DVD Review: Deliverance

Movie •••• Picture •••• Sound ••• Extras •••½

Ah, the 1970s, when visionary directors made one-of-a-kind films without interference from studios or test audiences. Director John Boorman's harrowing tale of a canoe trip gone awry is a prime example, and its power, 35 years on, remains undiminished.

Deliverance is all about the forces of nature, and with this relentlessly sharp transfer, you almost feel the white water as it swallows up those would-be sportsmen. (It's especially impressive compared with the infamously weak picture on the initial DVD release in 2004.) Rendered with great detail, the wild Southern landscape now appears appropriately menacing. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, reprocessed from the mono original, lacks the punch and imaging of today's soundtracks, but it does a respectable job of conveying the roar of the river.

An hour-long documentary rises above the norm, thanks to new interviews with the cast and crew; 35 years can lead to a lot of 20/20 hindsight. In his thoughtful commentary, Boorman tells of a difficult location shoot with the then-unknown actors Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, both of whom had something to prove. And there's a vintage featurette with a big helping of period charm.

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