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John Boorman
Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Ed Ramey, Seamon Glass, Randall Deal, Bill McKinney, Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward
Writing Credits:
James Dickey (and novel)

Four men ride a wild river. A weekend turns into a nightmare.

Four ordinary men in two canoes navigated a river they only know as a line on a map, taking on a wilderness they only think they understand.

Deliverence, based by James Dickey on his novel, surges with the urgency of masterful storytelling, like Georgia's Chattooga River along which it was shot. Equally masterful is the portrayal of each man's change of character under stress, harrowingly enacted by award winners Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. Director John Boorman sets us on the knife-edge of survival - and draws us in with the irresistable force of a raging current.

Box Office:
$2 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Monaural
Latin Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0
Castillian Spanish Monaural
Italian Monaural
German Monaural
Castilian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castilian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 6/26/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director John Boorman
• Four-Part Documentary
• “The Dangerous World of Deliverance” Featurette
• “Deliverance: The Cast Remembers” Featurette
• Trailer
• Hardcover Book



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Deliverance [Blu-Ray Book] (1972)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 18, 2012)

I've never much cared for the great outdoors, and watching Deliverance reminded my why I feel that way. One minute you're paddling down the river, having a good ol' time, la la la - the next minute some hillbilly's giving you the salami as you squeal like a pig! That's not exactly my idea of a good time - I'll stay home and watch Blu-rays instead.

Blu-rays like Deliverance. It's a film that I'd managed not to see until its 1999 DVD release, but it's also a movie that I always felt as though I had watched it. Aspects of Deliverance have so permeated popular culture that it's difficult not to have some awareness of the picture. (My favorite reference? Seeing Martin Short spoof the banjo-playing inbred kid on SCTV - hilarious!)

As with other famous films like The Exorcist, one can definitely enjoy the movie, but the widespread fame of some scenes distorts them to my eyes. As horrific as it is, I simply couldn't help but laugh during Ned Beatty's "squeal like a pig" bit. That segment has inspired far too much satire over the last few decades for me to take it strictly on face value.

Nonetheless, Deliverance continues to be a powerful and provocative film. What it lacks in plot, it makes up with intensity. Much of the film brutally portrays the predicament in which these men find themselves. It's not the most harrowing film I've seen, but it makes for a pretty rough ride.

Director John Boorman uses the camera to make this so. The film starts with mostly wide shots, during which we see our main characters from a distance. However, as the movie progresses, he inches the camera closer and closer to them, which more strongly involves the viewer in the action. It's a nice technique that works well the ratchet up the movie's tension.

Throughout Deliverance, we find very good acting. His role as Lewis is largely credited as propelling Burt Reynolds to stardom, and he offers excellent work. While he's not very involved in the last third or so of the story, he makes a strong impression during the rest of the film. Jon Voight gives many layers to his performance as Ed, the character with whom the audience will most likely identify. He's the one through whom we view the danger, and he nicely brings those feelings home. Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox round out the main cast with smaller roles, but their work stands up nicely as well.

All these factors add up to a worthwhile flick. Deliverance never overdramatizes its events, as it prefers to let the material speak for itself. It functions as a tight, gripping piece.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

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.

The package also includes a hardcover book. It features an essay called “The Making of Deliverance”, biographies of the four lead actors and Boorman, production photos, ads and art. This becomes a useful addition to the set.

Although our cultural familiarity with it can create some distractions, Deliverance remains a very good film. It presents a simple, concise portrayal of a weekend trip gone very wrong and does so in a dramatic manner. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture and audio plus a few strong supplements. This release doesn’t blow away the prior DVD, but it’s a nice package that delivers the best version of the film to date.

To rate this film, visit the Deluxe Edition review of DELIVERANCE

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