Saturday, 30 June 2012
FILM: Deliverance (8/10)
John Boorman's 1972 classic, Deliverance, stars Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox as four city slickers who decide to take a canoeing trip in the remote wilderness of Georgia.
The foursome, Reynolds and Beatty in particular, approach the trip with a naive view of the dangers they face and patronising attitude to the country locals.
The sinister nature of the film is providing early on during the famous 'duelling banjo's' scene. Stumbling across a remote petrol station, the locals show hostility to the arrogant foursome and Boorman ensures that the banjo scene where the local inbred boy plays the banjo in almost savant manner is creepy enough so as to be able to use the simple banjo tune throughout the rest of the film as a soundtrack of tension and unease.
Already aware of some of the details of the most harrowing moment of the film, I watched Deliverance with an uneasy tension. The foursome face danger from their surroundings as well as the locals, however it is the locals who strike first in a scene which I can imagine in the early 70's was incredibly shocking to watch. After the male rape scene, the city boys realise the danger and isolation they face and as paranoia begins to set in they take desperate action to survive.
Perhaps unusual in today's cinema, Boorman was certainly not afraid to use long scenes of the actors canoeing down the river to patiently bridge the key scenes.
40 years on, the story remains remarkably simply, but is told in a bold and powerful manner. Each of the four characters are different and all are changed men as the story ends differently for each of them. The acting is fantastic, in particular Voight and Reynolds, although looking back Reynold's character Lewis now perhaps comes across as a bit too macho as the Bear Grylls wannabe.
The hopeless sense of claustrophobic wilderness and isolation portrayed may well have been the inspiration for later films such as Predator and The Edge.
Nowadays the film suffers from some very dated editing but has largely aged well and is a 70's classic well worth a watch.