As the events of Deliverance unfold, it becomes painfully obvious that the four main characters are completely out of their element, not to mention utter fools for having taken this dangerous trip in the first place.
Bobby (Ned Beatty), who’s an admitted novice when it comes to surviving in the wilderness, brings an air mattress to sleep on, and has difficulty navigating the canoe their first day out. Lewis (Burt Reynolds), the only one of the group who seems at home in the great outdoors, scoffs at Bobby, and worries that Bobby’s inexperience will be a burden on the rest of them. But then Lewis himself may be more hot air than anything. He talks a lot about becoming one with nature, yet when they first arrive he has a hard time just finding the river. Lewis does have some experience as an outdoorsman, but it’s probably not nearly as extensive as he’d like his friends to believe. When Ed (Jon Voight) tells the others that Lewis knows the woods, Drew (Ronny Cox) disagrees. “Lewis learned the woods”, Drew says, “but he doesn’t feel them. He wants to be one with nature, but he can’t hack it”. And all four will learn the hard way that these particular woods are no place for anyone who can’t “hack it”.
Deliverance is a brutal, savage film, a tale of foolishness set against an impressively scenic backdrop. Yes, the river is beautiful, but there’s an inherent duality in this particular corner of nature, and what’s beautiful one minute can turn deadly the next.
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