Friday, December 29, 2006

The real reason why guys won't stop and ask for directions...

Went over to mom&pop's tonight for dinner. We watched Deliverance, which I suppose I've never watched straight through. It's actually a very well-done film - very interesting.

It's funny to think about modern life, the 70s and the advent of a kind of dissociation people have from the natural environment that makes them eager to go out and test themselves against the elements. Such challenges range from climbing vertical faces of rock with no ropes, to hiking into remote locales with poor-to-no cell signal, to roughing it amongst backwoods rustics with nary a full set of teeth amongst them. In every case - the deck is stacked against you, and sometimes you're gonna lose.

Psychologically speaking, this is a brilliant film. The way they are occasionally filmed by a moving camera from a slight distance serves to give the feeling we are seeing them from the perspective of a creepy hick who wants to treat them like swine/rape/kill them. The city man who has the film-launching musical interlude with the backwood-mutant-banjo-boy thinks their harmony indicates some kind of dialogue has been struck, that he has achieved some sort of understanding with the brave old world he is confronting. Yet when the banjo duel is over, the boy turns away, autistic or simply acutely uncommunicative, not willing to go along for the ride, in any case. The Hallmark moment was just an illusion. This abrupt non-response foreshadows the urban men entering into an environment which they don't understand and for which they are ill-prepared--one that functions on some primordial code to which they have no translation device.

They were gonna need a bigger canoe.

Then consider Burt Reynolds' excessive rudeness and condescension to the locals - I commented to my folks that they were obviously setting this up so we don't feel what happened to them was entirely undeserved. BTW, I LOVED the shit out of that injury on BR's leg that looked like they's cobbled a raw slab of chicken onto his thigh - nice touch!

Good movie. Shocking to think what Burt Reynolds was then and the be-wigged, tanned-leather Vegas attraction he has become. [Hmm, who is aging nicely? Robert Duvall.]

John Voight and Ned Beatty did a great job in this film. Deliverance gets the Phlegmmy Seal of Approval™.


Zelda said...

Any movie that can work in the Dueling Banjos is good for me. But seriously, I'd have a hard time looking Ned Beatty in the eye if I ever met him (and a harder time refraining from asking him to squeal like a pig).

Anonymous said...

I think that movie was the high point in the careers for Beatty and Reynolds. It was the best work they ever did, Visceral, creepy, powerful, a bit over the top at times, but in keeping with the characters they were playing. And Ronnie Howard, man, what a performance. Even if he was faking the guitar playin'.
Even knowing what's coming, it's still a powerful movie, but only every 7-8 years.

Becky said...

What I found interesting when I watched this film for the first time last year is that I actually expected it to be "worse" than it really was, but then I thought it might be because of all the violence that's on today. If it doesn't scare the crap out of me as much as Silence of the Lambs, it's "not that bad." Of course, would I want that to actually happen to me? Hell no!

Anonymous said...

Excellent film. As a canoer, I can't help but think as I watch it today how they could possibly try to run that river in an aluminum boat. Those things were horrible. You'd hit a rock going through rapids and stick right to it, rather than bouncing off like you do with the newer stuff. Started out in the late 70s, early 80s with gear that looked just like that. Did you know that the author of the book that the movie is based on plays the sheriff, who's brother they killed, mistaking him for one of the rapist hillbillies? If memory serves correctly.

And Becky, remember how old that flick is. It was completely shocking, on many levels, in it's day. Makes me squeamish even now. Poor Ned. They must have hid a few pages of script from him till the right moment.

Anonymous said...

Wow, just watched that clip. Such a snapshot of that time. Both of those canoes are lake canoes nowadays. No serious person would run a river like that in ether. And a wooden boat like that is worth about $3000 to $10000 today, depending on age and condition. The aluminum, maybe $200, if it's in good shape. They filmed it on the Chatooga river in Arkansas, which you can still run today. The Buffalo, in the Ozarks, is enough fun for me though.

:P fuzzbox said...

He might look strange but he is soo good in the man law commercials.