Deliverance appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Don’t expect to find many problems from this transfer, as it looked pretty good for a 40-year-old movie.
Sharpness seemed mostly positive. The movie usually exhibited nice delineation and definition, though a bit of softness made some wider shots a bit ill-defined. Those weren’t frequent, but I thought the movie wasn’t always as crisp as it could – or should – be. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I noticed no edge enhancement. In addition, source flaws were virtually absent. I saw a speck or two at most, as the flick was quite clean.
Colors looked good. The film tended toward a green, earthy palette, and these hues appeared full and natural. Black levels seemed solid, and shadows were smooth and clear for the most part; a few low-light shots seemed a bit opaque, but not to a huge degree All of this meant we ended up with a “B“ transfer that seemed generally pleasing.
The remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 track for Deliverance performed fine for its age but didn’t excel. The main positive attribute of this remix came from the added depth of the soundstage. This track did a nice job of surrounding and enveloping the listener. Audio panned well between the front channels, and the rear speakers offered some effective ambient noises.
However, the addition of localized speech worked less well. The lines popped up from the sides in an awkward manner, as they failed to mesh with the rest of the track.
Audio quality was positive though inconsistent. Speech was the weakest link, as the lines tended to sound somewhat hollow and distant. They were intelligible but not particularly natural. The sporadic examples of music sounded decent but unexceptional, while effects showed acceptable good delineation. They could be slightly tinny at times, but they seemed fairly good in general. Though the soundfield was wide, the moderate thinness of the audio left this as a “B-“ soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the Deluxe Edition DVD from 2007? Audio was a wash, as the lossless DTS track couldn’t really do much to improve the 40-year-old source material. As for the visuals, they showed a decent step up. Actually, the increased resolution of Blu-ray made the softness more apparent – the DVD hid those instances better – but the Blu-ray still came across as clearer and better defined. I wouldn’t call this a night and day difference, though.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras. We begin with an audio commentary from director John Boorman, as he offers a running, screen-specific chat. The director goes over casting and the project’s development, music, working with novelist James Dickey and adapting the book, locations and shoot specifics, shooting on the river, cinematography, visual design, costumes, and a mix of other production details.
Boorman provides an excellent look at his film. He offers an honest appraisal of the various issues and doesn’t sugarcoat the proceedings. Boorman brings us a wealth of fine info about the flick. Want to know how alterations for TV broadcasts helped inspire an iconic line? You’ll find that and lots more in this entertaining and informative track.
Next we get a four-part documentary that runs a total of 54 minutes, 57 seconds. This breaks into “The Beginning” (16:44), “The Journey” (13:04), “Betraying the River” (14:37) and “Delivered” (10:37). This mixes movie clips, archival elements, and interviews. We find notes from Boorman, author’s son Christopher Dickey, director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, and actors Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox and Bill McKinney.
The documentary examines the novel on which the film was based and its path to the screen, casting, characters and performances, and author James Dickey’s involvement during the shoot. From there we hear about cinematography, locations and shooting on the river, post-production, the film’s reception, and a mix of scene specifics, including details of the notorious rape sequence.
Since Boorman’s commentary provided so much good material, I feared that there’d be little left to cover in these featurettes. Happily, I found plenty more nice information along the way. Sure, occasional tidbits repeat from Boorman’s chat, but the additional participants provide many different takes on the production. I especially like Reynolds’ stories about Voight and Dickey. These featurettes succeed and give us a fine glimpse of Deliverance.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate The Dangerous World of Deliverance, a 10-minute, 13-second “vintage” featurette. We hear from director John Boorman and author James Dickey. The show offers some background for the original novel and gets into the shooting of the film. It's pretty good, though so brief that it obviously doesn't go into any depth. I liked it, but didn't find it to be terribly special.
Two new additions pop up here. We locate a featurette called Deliverance: The Cast Remembers. This show runs 29 minutes, 52 seconds and includes notes from Reynolds, Voight, Cox and Beatty. All four chat together about how they came onto the project, other cast and performances, experiences during the shoot, reactions to the final film and its legacy. I like the ability to see all four main cast members gathered in the same place; they interact well and deliver a nice collection of memories.