Welcome to Film Swappers, where Chris and Branden force the other person to watch any movie of their choosing. The only rules are that the films chosen have to be one that the other person hasn’t already seen, and they must be watched and reviewed.
Film Swappers #4: Collector’s Edition
Chris and I not only share a love for movies, but we also share a passion for collecting movies. With buying comes blind buying, and that is the inspiration for today’s Film Swappers. One movie that both of us purchased on Blu-ray recently was Deliverance. The thing is, neither of us had seen this so-called classic. Because of that, we thought it would be a great opportunity for each of us to visit the film for the first time together – though hundreds of miles apart – and share our thoughts on a Collector’s Edition of Film Swappers! (Note that neither of us read each other’s thoughts on the movie before writing our own opinions.)
Title: Deliverance (1972)
Director: John Boorman
Runtime: 110 minutes
Chris’ Pre-Viewing Thoughts
Deliverance was the butt of all jokes in middle school. I obviously knew the “twist” before seeing it and I actually saw a few moments of it years ago on cable, but changed the channel because it felt too edited. I was super excited to watch this film as I had recently bought the Blu-ray.
Branden’s Pre-Viewing Thoughts
I was really excited to finally see Deliverance. One can’t help but hear the hype surrounding this film, and that hype is what made me drop money on the Blu-ray before even seeing the film. I was able to avoid any and all spoilers for the movie coming in, which is a feat in itself, and I honestly thought I was going to be watching a traditional backwoods horror film. Turns out I was wrong.
Summary of Film
Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
This is one of those films that has probably been ruined for everyone (ie. The Sixth Sense). But the “twist” happens rather early and sets up one of the most intense films out there.
The film starts nice and slow, building the characters up just enough to break them down right before your eyes. Burt Reynolds plays the very macho, man’s man, Lewis, who has taken some friends out of the city to experience the great outdoors. Jon Voight, an actor I don’t usually like, isn’t even recognizable in his meek role here and I actually liked him in this. The acting is perfect from the four-man cast and the choice to use real-life locals for the rest of the characters was a great idea.
The Blu-ray looks amazing, aside from one dark mountain shot, which sticks out like a sore thumb. The cinematography is great. There are lots of nature shots and sounds and it just pulls you further into the film.
I was glued to Deliverance from the first 10-minutes, and the other 100-minutes flew by. I wanted to see what happened, no matter how nasty. I really can’t pinpoint a single flaw. The script is as solid as they get for such a simple idea. Outside of the “twist”, this film stands out as a huge influence on other films (one recent film that comes to mind is The Descent). The tension and the structure flow is pitch perfect.
I totally recommend watching this film. I know you can find it for dirt cheap everywhere and it airs on AMC every now and then. The best thing is that just about anyone can enjoy it: it isn’t a “snobby” art film, but it has enough style to keep even those viewers happy.
It turns out that Deliverance isn’t exactly the backwoods horror classic that I thought it would be. In fact, I wouldn’t even put this movie in the horror category. Sure, there are some – two, to be exact – horrific things that occur in the movie, but that alone doesn’t make it a horror film. Instead, Deliverance creates a sort of odd, hybrid, rape and revenge/backwoods/adventure/survival combo film that only works some of the time.
(To save from argument, I would put, for example, The Last House on the Left, and I Spit On Your Grave into the horror category because of the overall tone of depravity, which Deliverance doesn’t have, nor does it try to have.)
A lot of time – much more than is needed – is spent watching these four men canoeing down a river. There is a severe lack of tension in these scenes, and really the whole movie, and it makes the film drag. The inciting incident of the second act happens in a matter of minutes. Given its content, that isn’t the problem. The problem lies in the characters themselves. I never genuinely care if they live or die, nor do I really care if they find this one person who may or not be up at the top of a mountain with a gun trying to kill them. Tension is an important element in any survival film, and Deliverance just doesn’t have that much, hurting it in the long run.
The best part of Deliverance is Burt Reynolds. His character is a man’s man; a gun loving, nature needing, steady shooting man’s man. That is, until he hurts his leg in an accident, and becomes practically non-existent. If more happened during the second act of Deliverance, it may be a much more memorable flick. Instead, the second act drags, and the third act is much too pointless to be considered a classic in my book. There isn’t much to hate, but there’s virtually nothing to love about Deliverance either. It is an okay movie that may be a victim of its own “classic” status.
Clearly Chris and I had much different experiences with Deliverance, but that’s what makes the world go ’round. Who do you side with? Is Deliverance a classic, or is it a bit of a bore? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading Film Swappers! You can follow Chris on Twitter @Wolverinefactor.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.