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Tomatometer®reviews counted: 10see all Deliverance reviews
Top Critic Reviews
Fresh: John Boorman's 1972 film of the James Dickey novel has a beautiful visual style that balances the film's machismo message.
- Don Druker, Chicago Reader, Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Fresh: Highlight of New American Cinema, this ultra-violent powerful adventure offers some serious, metaphysical issues of survival and civilization vs. wilderness. Boasting eerie images and awesome sounds, the film is credited with making Burt Reynolds a star
- Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com, Thursday, June 24, 2010
An excellent and brutal thriller from John Boorman. It?s a classic, all that?s missing is Burt Reynolds?s moustache! 'Squeal like a piggy boy'!
- SirPant, Thursday, September 24, 2009
holy freaking crap this is scary. squeal like a pig just became the most spine chilling phrase on earth for me
- TomBowler, Saturday, September 5, 2009
"We killed a man, Drew. Shot him in the back. A mountain man. A cracker." Based on James Dickey's best-selling 1970 novel, John Boorman's Deliverance is a fateful tour of rugged Georgia terrain which functions as a potent reminder that we can always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shot on a shoestring budget on location in northern Georgia, Boorman's most arresting picture is a straightforward tale told with passion, heart and urgency. Deliverance is a compelling, deeply disturbing film which hasn't lost its bite or thrill all these decades later. "He's got a real purty mouth, ain't he?" and "I bet you can squeal like a pig" are two quotes capable of sending shivers down a man's spine if they're familiar with this remarkable film. With its superb Oscar-nominated direction, enthralling cinematography, an evocative score and challenging adult themes; Deliverance is a taut, tense, hauntingly disconcerting thriller that remains one of the decade's most visceral adventures. Four ordinary city slickers (or at least three since one fancies himself a steely outdoorsman) agree to take a camping/canoeing trip as they're intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's turned into one huge lake. Ed (Voight), Lewis (Reynolds), Bobby (Beatty) and Drew (Cox) plan to indulge in a tranquil journey packed with male bonding and sheer exhilarating adventure. As the men navigate the wilderness they think they understand, disaster befalls their adventure and they descend into an unimaginable nightmare. Both nature and mankind conspire to propel them through a crucible of peril and degradation during which their lives and possibly even their souls are put in staggering danger. At its most fundamental level, Deliverance is a tale of endurance and survival. But the film doesn't merely concern surviving the hazards of the wilderness or of human threats; it's about surviving one's own heart of darkness, about confronting one's basest needs and accepting or declining them. The relatively straightforward boating venture turns into a multifaceted story of existence, with each of the four buddies compelled to reach deep within themselves to unearth a new meaning for courage. Deliverance is simultaneously a story of outer destitution and fortitude, and inner endurance and integrity. Furthermore, Boorman has the directorial audacity to pace the film at a more relaxed tempo as opposed to the breakneck speed of contemporary action films. By doing this, the director allots time to develop the characters and establish the conflicts. In this fashion Boorman amplifies the mood of apprehension and trepidation by permitting these elements to evolve naturally and logically. Make no mistake: the pacing is ponderous and careful. Shots are generally lengthy and wide. The film gently ensnares you in its gripping atmosphere as a result of the masterful storytelling. To some this approach may appear "boring" as their attention spans are limited. To this reviewer it's effective and subversive. If there's anything to criticise, it's the sporadic substance deficiency. Perhaps it does tend to drag on a smidgen, but there's no denying the power of this movie. The images and noises conveyed throughout the rape scene...are unforgettable. "Goddamn, you play a mean banjo." Most entertaining is the legendary "duelling banjos" sequence towards the beginning of the film. Incidentally, the famous tune isn't two banjos at all - but a banjo and a guitar (performed behind-the-scenes by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel). The director reportedly chose young Billy Redden as the banjo player due to his bizarre outward show, but the boy had never appeared in a movie beforehand and was unable play the banjo. To solve the problem, Boorman found another boy capable of playing the instrument. For filming, the boy was hidden behind Redden with just his arm and hand visible for the banjo fingering. How novel. Luckily, Deliverance is far more than duelling banjos and...well, squealin' like a pig. Immediately it's possible to identify with the characters as the screenwriter (Dickey, who wrote the original novel, acted as the screenwriter here) bestows them with three-dimensional qualities. Each possesses different ideals, ambitions and moral codes. In the acting department, faults are scarce. Deliverance offers harrowing, natural performances that anchor the occasionally over-the-top story with logic and believability. Burt Reynolds' tough-guy persona (established at the beginning of the film) is soon reduced to a shell of himself; crying and complaining following a bitter injury at some point throughout the journey. Before defiling his CV with tosh such as 2008's woeful In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Reynolds was a gifted actor and his talent is omnipresent during every scene in which he features. Jon Voight as Ed provides a reluctant yet poised centre, virtually becoming the group's leader towards the film's conclusion. Ed is a well-written character who's stunningly realised by Voight, and he's a man most of us can sympathise with. Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox made their film debuts here. Cox provides the team's moral core, bringing his love for music and a sturdy conscience even in critical circumstances. Beatty plays the unlucky victim during the film's most chilling and heartbreaking sequence, emphasising the group's doggedness through innocence lost. Since not all return from the expedition (none return completely intact, for that matter), the tragic proceedings are far more affecting when told in such a linear manner. All the actors performed their own stunts to conserve costs (Voight even had to climb the rock formation without any safety measures!) and had no form of health insurance. Deliverance remains a gripping tale of morality and mortality, as effective and brawny now as it was when it first debuted decades ago. You'll seldom find an adventure film with as many thoughtful subtexts as Deliverance. It is an unflinching and absorbing examination of mankind's dark disposition and violent propensities in the face of danger. It laudably paints a picture depicting the protagonists as antagonists. Brutal and unwavering, Deliverance doesn't pull any punches in its depiction of a fairly shocking story. Author James Dickey's imagination spawned this disturbing tale of violation, murder and endurance, but the visualisation by director Boorman and co raises the stakes even higher. The film surges with masterful storytelling, and draws in a viewer with the indomitable force of a raging current. It's simply a haunting, nightmarish vision and a landmark piece of classic filmmaking. Nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture (lost to The Godfather), Best Editing for Tom Priestley (lost to David Bretherton for Cabaret) and Best Directing for John Boorman (lost to Bob Fosse for Cabaret). "Sometimes you have to lose yourself 'fore you can find anything."
- PvtCaboose91, Monday, May 4, 2009