USA, 1972, 109 mins. Director: John Boorman. Stars: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox.

Here's one film worth coming back to uni a couple of days early for. Deliverance is a classic: hair-raising and haunting, it's full of scenes which will stay with you for a long time. Its subject—a white-water rafting trip undertaken by four Atlanta businessmen in the backwoods of the South—provides us with plenty of scenic vistas, lulling the enchanted viewer into a false sense of security. A brutal confrontation which follows, between the four civilised adventurers and two terrifying mountain men, shatters the illusion. The people of the hills are as wild as the landscape, and suddenly the land's desolate beauty offers the rafters no comfort or relief: their escapist journey turns into a desperate attempt to escape. The suspense is uncontrived and almost unbearable: this is one film where again and again you won't know what happens next.

Jon Voight (where is he now?) gives a great performance, as do Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty (in his first role) and Ronny Cox. Twenty-two years on, Deliverance remains as chilling as on the day it was released. And it features the added bonus of the now-legendary "duelling banjos" sequence (you'll recognise the music even if you don't recognise the scene).


First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1994, 2000 Rory Ewins