I'd like to spank the Academy

Deliverance (1972)

deliverance_posterDirected by John Boorman

I don’t know a lot about most of the Oscar-nominated movies from the 70s and 80s. I was raised on movies from the 30s through the 60s; I became at least semi-aware of the movies in the early 90s. But the 70s and 80s are just kind of a big, unexplored wilderness to me. Sometimes that’s a good thing; it means that I don’t have any preconceived ideas about the movies. But sometimes it means I get a nasty shock when something traumatic happens that I am not at all prepared for. That’s what happened to me with Deliverance, and that is why there will be a couple spoilers in this post. Normally I hate spoilers, and I try very hard to keep my posts spoiler-free, but I really wish someone had spoiled certain points about Deliverance for me.

So what’s the story? A dam is about to be built on a river in Georgia, so four friends decide to go canoeing down the river before the natural beauty of the area is destroyed. Although they are prepared for the dangers of nature, they aren’t ready for the dangerous men they will encounter.

The Good: The men who play the four friends do a phenomenal job. Burt Reynolds plays Lewis, the tough outdoor man who convinces everyone else to go on the trip. John Voight is his best buddy Ed. Gentle, music-loving Drew is played by Ronny Cox. Ned Beatty perfectly captures the cocky braggart Bobby. All four actors were terrific. I think the best scene was right after the tragedy when all four are reacting to it and trying to make a decision. Their personalities really shone through.

The cinematography was beautiful. Beautiful scenery makes gorgeous cinematography easier, so they definitely had a leg up when filming this movie, but the scenery wasn’t all there was to the cinematography. There were interesting and clever shooting angles. It was really cool.

The Bad: There were a couple of times in the movie that I had to rewind and watch very, very carefully to figure out what had just happened because it wasn’t clear.

Also, this movie has an awesome scene with the song “Dueling Banjos,” but because this movie left such a bad impression on me overall, I don’t think I will ever be able to listen to that happy song without thinking of this horrifying movie.

The Ugly: Okay, here’s the spoiler. If you don’t like spoilers, skip this section. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I’m not a huge fan of violence. Deliverance has one of the most horribly violent scenes I have ever seen. A man gets raped by another man. It was a terribly uncomfortable scene to watch, and the sick feeling it gave me made it hard to concentrate on the rest of the movie. I just can’t handle stuff like that, and not knowing that it was going to happen made it so much worse. I know not everyone is as sensitive to violence as I am, so it might not bother you, but it really bothered me. So there is my public service announcement about Deliverance.

Oscars Won: None.

Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best director; best film editing.

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