Deliverance (1972) Film Review

Deliverance (1972) Film Review
By Chongchen Saelee

Wow. That’s all I can say. I have never seen the movie in its entirety before. But now I don’t regret owning it on Blu-ray.

If this is a movie that establishes “hillbillies and rednecks” as bad people, then it deserves its place in film history and American culture. That’s not to say it isn’t balanced. The film depicts the full range of “hillbilly” folk. It shows the common folk, who are quite innocent but always get ridiculed by the entitled, snobby city folk. It shows the kind-hearted church-going elderly. It shows the overzealous police. But most people will remember it for the two most evil rednecks in film history.

The story is about 4 city dudes, office types in Georgia. They decide to travel into the deep woods to go wild rapids canoeing.

The first thing you might notice is how much of an ass the Ned Beatty character is. He plays Bobby, a rude, crude, condescending salesman, who ironically cannot take any berating himself. When the four friends arrive at a gas station, he is the first to start throwing around slurs about hillbillies. Eventually, he is the one who falls victim to a brutal molestation, sodomy, otherwise disturbing rape by one of the evil rednecks.

Jon Voight plays Ed, the everyman. He is the other friend who gets assaulted by the two redneck hillbillies. He is tied to a tree trunk by his neck with his own belt and is about to get raped in the mouth by a toothless redneck only to be rescued by his friend Lewis (played by Burt Reynolds).

Lewis is a survival expert. He is the “realist” archetype.

The other friend is Drew, played by Ronny Cox. Drew is the “idealist”.

I don’t want to spoil their fates, but you might be able to deduce it simply by pure archetype. If it’s predictable, it’s still isn’t something that isn’t shocking. Why is it shocking? Because, to me, personally, it isn’t an exaggeration. There are people I’ve met who are really like this. And I can’t imagine anyone who might have to go through what these guys went through. And this is just a fictional account.

So what is the moral of the story?

Lewis said it best when he was scolding Bobby for making a negative comment about how reliable “hillbillies” can be. Lewis said, “Don’t judge people by how they look.”

Yes. It takes all kinds of people to make the world happy. But it only takes a few to make it a really bad place.

Although, the title might have some religious meaning, I don’t think that is really necessary in the bigger message.

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