Deliverance (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

A group of friends seeks to have a great adventure together, through some of nature’s wilderness. As a dam is about open and leave the Cahulawassee River changed in the process, the group decides to go now, while the trip is still possible. After all, how many chances to enjoy nature’s untouched bounty will they have? Lewis (Burt Reynolds) is the outdoorsman of the group, though not an expert one, while Ed (Jon Voight) is a successful, but bored man. Bobby (Ned Beatty) took a break from his insurance sales to come, while Drew (Ronny Cox) is up for whatever lies ahead. The group pays some locals to drive their cars to the eventual destination, which will be reached by canoe. The trip starts off well enough, but as things take a turn for the worse, these four men will be forced to do whatever they can just to survive…

I think more people know about Deliverance from Dueling Banjos or the “squeal like a pig” line than have actually seen it, which is a shame. This is a tense, well crafted movie that is survival horror at its best, but with a naturalist approach. The idea of inbred fiends lurking in the woods has been used in countless movies, but rarely this well. These are not mutants or over the top creations, the villains here are just sadistic, backwards people. Take a wrong turn off the main road, take your canoe deep into a rural locale, or visit remote sections of mountains in some regions, you’re bound to see folks just the ones in Deliverance. Not killers or sadists in most cases, but the environment within Deliverance is realistic and by turn, quite effective. The performances are superb across the board, the direction is tight, and the photography is excellent. You will feel like you’re in those woods yourself, as every part of the movie clicks into the place just right. This is an excellent movie and without question, earns a high recommendation.

Video: How does it look?

“Deliverance” is now thirty years old and, as such, the film does show its age a little bit. All things considered, though, I have to say that I was rather impressed with how sharp some of the scenes looked. Color saturation is bumped up a few notches compared with the older, standard DVD and much of the grain that plagued the older transfer has been cleaned up giving us a much more clean appearance. I did still notice some grain, however, but for the most part this 2.35:1 VC-1 HD transfer is so much more of an improvement that I should use my standard DVD as a coaster.

Audio: How does it sound?

The disc sports a nice Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track that sounds adequate, but there’s not a whole lot that can be done to make the original mono track sound that robust. I was rather impressed by the “Dueling Banjos” sequence, probably one of the key things the movie is remembered for. Dialogue is fairly clean as well, we don’t get that muddled sounding track that instantly dates a movie. Ambient effects are few and far between, but the surrounds do kick in on occasion to give some added extra “oomph”. Again, this movie is thirty years old so take that with a grain of salt.

Supplements: What are the extras?

John Boorman provides a director’s commentary track, which is more than solid, but not as insightful as I had hoped. He tends to sit in silence often, so between comments there can be substantial pauses. When he does talk however, he has good information and for fans of the movie, the track is worth a spin. The 35th Anniversary Retrospective is divided into four featurettes and all told, there is about an hour of footage to check out. This is a comprehensive look at Deliverance, from the book to the casting process to the production itself. A host of insightful interviews populate the featurettes, as the entire process is covered and memories from the shoot are shared. This disc also includes a vintage featurette, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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