Deliverance Blu-ray Review

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by AVForums Sep 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review

    Deliverance Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £17.09


    Presented at 2.40:1 1080p Deliverance unusually for a BluRay disc uses the VC-1 codec. Normally found on HD-DVD, earlier BluRay using MPEG-2 and later AVC/MPEG-4, this is an OK enough transfer, but not much more. The original print from which this comes has been cleaned up a little but it's still showing it's age somewhat. Early shots of them driving to the river fluctuate in brightness. Although the majority of the dirt has been removed, still the odd piece flashes up and grain is always there in the background. There's no artefacts to speak of, no blocking nor enhancement and as I always find these a little distracting then I was glad to see their omission here.

    Detail is more than suitable with the close up facials revealing pore and hair structure, or bad teeth in the case of one hillbilly. Skins tones spot on. Boorman shot this using a limited earthy palette. Greens, dark mustard yellows and browns being the order of the game. This of course suits the film and it's nature overtones perfectly well. He admits in his commentary that the river itself looked too pristine and de-saturated the colours during these shots to make it a little more imposing. Even with all of this the rocks, canyons and water itself come across beautifully in the fast moving shots down river.

    Whites are rarely blown out with wispy cloud definition still apparent in the very light sky. It's the blacks which fail us here a little. Dark areas, around campfires or cliff walls show some detail but not as much as you would expect. With the blacks themselves a little crushed and never really that dark inky matter, some have a grey or dark blue overtone to them. One scene where Voight scales a cliff face the post production on the film, changing daylight filmed shots into night, is more than apparent.

    So in the end, with a cleaned up print, limited but perfectly chosen colour palette and lack of definition during the darker scenes Deliverance is not a great picture but it's good enough not to distract you from the movie itself.
    Deliverance Picture


    On offer for the English speaking amongst us we have Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 at 640kbps. When originally released Deliverance was a mono track. In all honesty not much has been done to the track to boost it's width and for that I'm somewhat glad. A good enough sound engineer I suppose could have added a wider front stage or contrived some additional effects on the rears but what we have here is what ultimately the director and sound engineer had available to them at the time.

    It's the front stage that is mainly in use, panning between left and right is seldom but effective as needed with trucks and cars. Water effects can be heard here also. The haunting ever present Duelling Banjos theme runs through the movie; presenting a underlying feeling of uneasiness, the score almost haunts the fronts. During the battle between Drew's guitar and Lonnie's banjo at the start the track comes alive, each note on each instrument easily distinguished.

    Dialogue is, in the main, presentable. Always through the centre channel most of what is being spoken can be picked up quite well, even above the roar of the rapids. Much of the dialogue was overdubbed though in post production due to the sound recording constraints and this is quite noticeable, it just doesn't quite fit in with the general ambiance of the surrounding. Some dialogue is muffled and I found I was reaching for my remote on a couple of occasions to find out what was said. LFE is minimal with I think one occasion where it kicks into life.

    Much like the video this is far from an ideal sound transfer. It suits it's purpose well enough but could have been presented a little better, especially some of the areas where the dialogue is not quite as crisp as you would have liked.
    Deliverance Sound


    For 35 years Deliverance has raised many questions. Ned Beatty for one has almost refused in that time to discuss the rape scene. Was Drew shot, did he fall, or did he jump? When presented on this anniversary disc though an aficionado can only hope that the extras offer an insight into a classic. do they?

    • 4-part Documentary - The Beginning, The Journey, Betraying the River and Delivered

      Presented as 4 short documentaries, ranging from 10 to 16 minutes, these really encompass what can only be described as the video reference material for Deliverance. There are interviews with Boorman, all the 4 main members of the cast and the hillbilly (Bill McKinney) responsible for the rape of Bobby, the director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, and importantly Christopher Dickey - James Dickey's son and author of Summer of Deliverance. All have their own input into how Deliverance was brought to the screen.

    • Commentary with John Boorman

      Boorman comes across in this commentary, and the documentaries listed earlier, as an affable guy. He understands, now, the importance of Deliverance in US cinema history. Here he discusses, amongst others things, character development, filming, the trouble with sound recording and always James Dickey. A worthwhile commentary which, for fans I am sure, will be viewed more than once.

    • Dangerous World of Deliverance

      An original 10-minute documentary, no more than an extended trailer for the film. The usual discussion of actors and director and location takes place.

    • Trailer

      The original trailer for Deliverance. From an historical point of view quite quaint. None of the throaty voice over, it just tells it as it is.

    Essentially here we have the commentary and the 35th anniversary retrospective. Both of these do great justice to the film itself and enhance it because of that. What becomes apparent from watching and listening to these is the character James Dickey was. The original author and writer of the screenplay it's apparent that he wanted to impose his will on all aspects of filmmaking. The actors themselves found him imposing always referring to them by their character names as opposed to their real names. Eventually he was asked to leave the set, returning later in a cameo role.

    A lot of the time the documentaries and commentary on disc of any format tend to be vacuous or self appreciating only there to take up space. These are anything but that and enhance this presentation. Definitely recommended viewing.
    Deliverance Extras


    Deliverance is one of those true great films. The director (John Boorman), the 4 main actors ( Reynolds, Voight, Beatty and Cox) will always have a place a place in history because of it and all should be proud of the work they have offered us here. Excellent casting, Reynolds and Beatty never again better. Superb supporting cast members, many of whom were just normal Joe's from the street. Dickey himself giving a more than credible performance as the imposing town sheriff near the end of the film.

    A film which shaped the view of the Deep South for many people, and not for the better. Labelled as a thriller it also falls into the horror category and if re-imagined today would fall short by overemphasising the gore and not the subtle emotional aspects which all our main characters are dragged through here. Horror in the mind, in the soul and staying in the soul long after the journey has ended.

    The video quality is a mixed bag and the sound will never have you looking around your shoulder when a twig breaks in your right surround, but these pale into insignificance beside the story itself. The extras included on this disc more than make up for any failing there. Offering up an insight into the film and then men who made it come alive.

    A right of passage, a realisation of greater things, a haunting memory; Deliverance has been one of my favourite films since I saw it some 30 years ago. It still is!
    Deliverance Verdict

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.09

    The Rundown



    Picture Quality


    Sound Quality






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