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Deliverance is the gold standard in hicksploitaton film-making, or so I thought going in. Truth is, it's more of a survival film, with four friends going down a dangerous river before the habitat is destroyed by a dam, but it's the bits with the "hillbillies" that are most memorable. And so even after all these years, the film still confounds expectations. First, the hero isn't the one you think. Second, it's less urbanite vs. hillbilly than it is man against nature, with the mountain men a manifestation of nature's ire. And third, despite it's seemingly simple action plot, Deliverance is really about something, or about many things. It's about extreme nature reverting men to their animal instincts. In some ways, about what it means to be a man, with all its gender-normative specificity. And it has a lot more psychological depth than you would expect, especially in the final act. Plus, no better banjo duel in the whole of cinematic history.
Very disturbing film, but great.
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In 14 official lists
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This movie ranks #15 in AFI's 100 years...100 thrills
This movie ranks #49 in Stanley Kubrick, Cinephile
This movie ranks #67 in Taschen 100 All-time favorite movies
This movie ranks #86 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #107 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #221 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #235 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #236 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #258 in They Shoot Zombies, Don't They?
This movie ranks #285 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #517 in National Film Registry
This movie ranks #540 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #559 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #739 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films