DVD Snippets: 'Deliverance'


Deliverance still haunts.

Mention the 40-year-old backwoods drama and most everyone recalls the infamous "Squeal like a pig!" male rape scene. But it's the heavy psychological toll on the suburban Atlanta men who went into the deep forest of Georgia to challenge themselves on a canoe river trip that truly resonates after the film's credits.

This is a man vs. nature film, and nature wins.

Deliverance couldn't have been better cast, with Oscar nominee Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds as the headliners. Reynolds used Deliverance as a springboard to a successful film career for nearly two decades, and Voight would later win an Oscar for 1978's Coming Home. The other stars, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, quickly made names for themselves in Hollywood as well.

Each of their characters are reflections of Deliverance novelist and co-screenwriter James Dickey's personality: the macho outdoorsman Lewis (Reynolds), the creative artist Drew (Cox), the laidback Southerner Ed (Voight), and the funny and bumbling Bobby (Beatty). Dickey makes an appearance in the movie as the imposing sheriff, who delivers a warning to the men to stay out of his county and let the town die in peace.

Director and co-screenwriter John Borman creates a memorable and formidable world around them, with dangerous mountain men, a furious river, and the beauty of the forest muted into drab greens and browns.

Borman talks about all of this in an informative commentary, and the new Blu-ray/book-set release includes recent interviews with the four actors who have remained friends, bonded by their experience on the set.

There's the sense they were never the same after making Deliverance. And I'm not so certain anyone who's seen it isn't changed as well -- or at least given pause when they enter the deep dark woods at night. Despite its age, Deliverance looks terrific on Blu-ray, and if you haven't seen this classic, this book set is the definitive version. SRP: $34.99.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.