Written by James Dickey

Directed by John Boorman



Theatrical:  Warner Bros. Pictures

Video: Warner Home Video


Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: VC-1

Disc Size: 21.58 GB

Feature Size: 18.12 GB

Bit Rate: 21.12 Mbps

Runtime: 109 minutes

Chapters: 30

Region: All


English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 1.0

Subtitles: English, French & Spanish

• Commentary by Director John Boorman

• 35th Anniversary Retrospective

• Vintage Featurette: The Dangerous World

of Deliverance

• Theatrical trailer


Blu-ray Amaray case 1 disc

Release Date: September 18, 2007


My list of nightmare-provoking movies is very short: The Thing From Another World (when I was still in single digits), Psycho, Ridley Scott's Alien, James Cameron's Titanic (honest!) and, most disturbing, John Boorman's Deliverance, which, starting with my first sight of its pained poster of men trapped in the dark, scared me half to death.  Based on the book by James Dickey, who also wrote the screenplay (and who makes a formidable appearance as Sheriff Bullard), John Boorman's dramatization of Jungian male archetypes probably did not intend to be one the most frightening movies ever made, but so it has become for me.


What horror movies have in common are, besides a scary ghost, demon, psycho or alien, is an innocent, often foolish and naive person who opens the door or goes up the stair, and someone of ordinary stuff who becomes the hero and destroys the monster.  What is particularly scary about Deliverance is the level of confidence assumed by Lewis (Burt Reynolds) as he enters the world he intends to conquer.  He scoffs, he demeans, he is the quintessential American juggernaut – though he sees himself as the ultimate naturalist.  As he races his jeep down a country road to the river, so very nearly out of control, Ed (Jon Voight) implores him to slow down.  But Lewis races on.  When he makes a wrong turn, he simply backs up and starts afresh.  His skills are consummate – and he does know his man.  When Lewis bargains with Griner to take his vehicles to the river terminus, we know better than to treat him with such disdain.  Ed the others know, too, and beg Lewis not to insult "these people."  The vehicles do, indeed, show up, but the trip turns out different from expected.


But for me, the moment of truth, of true horror, is what happens after Lewis comes upon the rape scene – and all that follows.  Later, when Lewis and Drew (Ronny Cox) are more or less wasted by events, and it is left to Ed to rise to the occasion: he hesitates, as he did earlier when he had a deer in the sights of his deadly bow and arrow.  Again, that horror, so primitive in me: Could I kill to protect?  Even if I know that I would be killed if I don't.  The question is dramatized in more movies than you can count – but here I found it spoke to my core.  It reached into my primitive rage as it did my weakness.  Damn him!


The Movie : 8

Lewis (Reynolds), outlines the adventure to his buddies at the outset: the Cahulawasee River will soon be no more, stopped up by a dam, placing hundreds of square miles under water.  Four guys, two canoes, fishing, camping, a guitar – what more could you ask?  But the threat comes not from the river, thrilling as its rapids are, but from a pair of mountain men who come upon Ed and Bobby (Ned Beatty) unexpectedly.  They tie Ed to a tree as he watches Bobby be raped.  To many, this scene is gratuitous or loathsome.  Roger Ebert wrote: "The scenes of violence and rape also work, it must be admitted, although in a disgusting way. The appeal to latent sadism is so crudely made that the audience is embarrassed."  Others may find the threat to their manhood so intense and direct, that such a scene would be repulsive in the extreme.  The fact that Beatty, Voight and Bill McKinney & Herbert Coward, the actors who played the mountain men, are so convincing makes the scene all the more harrowing.  At this point we're only a third into the movie, and the journey downstream has just begun.


Image : 5/6

Reviewers are fond of saying things like: the image looks pretty good, or better than I expected, for a film of this age.  Hooey!  It's not the age, but the materials employed and how they were preserved that counts. Deliverance is easily the weakest image that has yet been put out on Blu-ray.  But it was not all that strong to start with.  The colors are deliberately desaturated, a little, yes.  There is a considerable amount of what passes for film grain in color, yes.  There is a nagging vagueness of the image.  It looks like the result of extreme push-processing in order to get every possible amount of depth of field even in difficult conditions.  Worse yet is the blue bleeding that occurs in the night shots as Ed climbs the mountain and especially across his face once he gets there.  I don't recall seeing anything quite so egregious.  I have many an SD DVD that looks better – and some of those are in color, pre-1970.  That said, the Blu-ray picture seems to be free of blemishes and artifacts, and has never looked this good on video when projected large, as mine is.  One final note about the aspect ratio: It is listed as 2.20:1 on the IMDB but measures 2.39:1 on the Blu-ray.


Audio & Music : 7/9

Never designed to be a special effects sound design or anything remotely like it, Deliverance operates at a quite different level: it's the drama and performances that either reach you or turn your stomach.  Even the background music track is as subtle as it is a perfect outgrowth of the Dueling Banjos bit from the opening scene.


Operations : 8

As is usual with Warner, we get right to the movie shortly after loading. The menu is straightforward, simple, easy to understand. No HD tricks or symbols to decipher.  The slightly expanding thumbnails are not titled, but the images are so memorable that we generally know where we want to go from thumbnail.


Extras : 7

A new one-hour 35th anniversary docu-featurette that reunites all the principle actors, plus Bill McKinney; Boorman; Vilmos Zsigmond, his cinematographer; and Chris Dickey, son of the author tells the story; and in addition, a running commentary by Boorman.   The vintage featurette is mercifully short – I say that because it is so poor in terms of image – but worth a visit.


Recommendation: 7

If you want this movie, this is the way to get it, despite the caveats about the image, though I imagine it will look satisfactory on screens of less than 65” diagonal.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

September 30, 2007

Score CardScore_Card.html
About MeAbout_Me.html