…and the quest to see everything

Archive for April 11, 2011

Confessions, Deliverance

ph. Warner

1. What was Burt Reynolds‘ mustache doing in Jon Voight‘s face?

This unobstructed view of young Reynolds showed that he was pretty hot and he reminds me of Marlon Brando. The facial structure, the raw masculinity. Him with a bow and arrow is sexuality in cinema. Lewis is also probably Reynolds at his most subtle.

Bringing me to the alternate universes I was conjuring while watching Deliverance, which some people might consider as Reynolds’ silver medal instead of getting to star in The Godfather, Brando refusing to work with him because he was then a TV star. Which is funny because Brando, Reynolds and Voight relatively share the same facial structure while the Corleone brothers we have today, although arguably the greatest young cast of that time, look nothing like each other. But it seems more fitting to see him in out in the country than wearing 1950’s suits.

2. They put that in the middle?

This film seems revolutionary even in contrast to films after it, where the first two acts of the latter would be fillers when the main characters bicker or whatnot – and yes that does happen, Lewis telling Ed (Voight) tells him something foreshadowing – and the trauma happens in be the last one. Ed keeps noticing someone hiding behind the woods, he and Bobby (Ned Beatty) meeting them before the 40-minute mark, way earlier than I expected.

I want to talk about the urban-rural binary now. Bobby talks about the ‘hicks’ whereas I can imagine someone from Cape Cod using that term towards the road buddies. It’s also weird that out of the four of them, Beatty is the one cast as the urban elitist, and that the one who despises the backwoods the most is the one who’s arguably on the wrong end of this class war. I think of Beatty as the guy with the great soliloquy in Network while my friend Sarah sees him in this more notorious scene, film presences we can’t erase for another despite of his long CV.

The strangers intimidate them for more than five minutes, making me wonder what’s going to happen for the rest of the film? The rape scene is a big part of this film’s reputation, but instead of sadism it’s as if it’s more important for these characters to survive the journey.

3. Michael Barrett said ‘ in 1972…there was…garbage… [in] theatres between The Godfather and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.’ Correct, but this movie is one of two exceptions.

4. Deliverance is pretty. Yes, the film dips into the Gothic grotesque, like the mountain man biting a small tree trunk, the toothless man’s body hanging at the end of a cliff, Drew’s dislocated arm. Or the hand slowly rising up from the river, a staple from many horror films. But there are some scenes where the travelers are microscopic compared to the trees almost obscuring the view, just like it should in a place like that. Or the aftermath of the rape scene where small tree trunks cross the frame like intricate vines. Or a big rock formation looming as they become more defenseless against the strong rapids, reminding me of Hokusai. This movie is just so lush and green. Again, this movie has its reputation, but it’s also visually poetic, and I see it as a thing of beauty.