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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Deliverance (1972) | Spoiler Review

First and foremost, thank you to Archer creator Adam Reed, and his writers and directors on the show, for potentially introducing people to this film. Second, I'm not very knowledgable about the subject matter explored in this film, but I felt like it's not brought up as often as it should be.

Some films are timeless, like Heathers and Natural Born Killers, and the themes they depict will never change. Some are dated, like bad kids movies that rely too heavily on pop-culture and slang from the year they're made. And some films, like Deliverance, have to be re-examined and re-interpreted every five to ten years to see how society has changed.

Deliverance is about a canoeing trip four friends take on the Chattooga River (or at least that's the river they filmed) that turns into short bout for survival when two locals decide to threaten and sexually assault two of the friends. What's unexpected about this film is the assault occurs and is handled as you would expect, especially for 1972. Ed (Jon Voight) is bound to a tree and forced to watch Bobby's (Ned Beatty) attack. The violence of the scene is nothing compared to the psychological trauma shown by the actors and imagined by the audience. However, we're given some insight when the four decide that the best way to handle things after killing the two locals in self-defense is to bury the bodies and never speak of what happened again. There's an instant belief and acceptance that the police would never buy their story, and while we've made significant progress since then, as far as the police being able to gather evidence and piece together an accurate narrative, that belief and stigma still lingers.

So, the question is can men who have suffered similar trauma talk about it more openly today? Well, forty-four years later, things have gotten better, but not everyone is aware of that. We talk a lot about feminism and equal representation for women in media because they're still fighting for what they deserve, but what about equal representation for every kind of man? Basically for all the progress that's been made, all the extremes have gotten more divided, and that's because not everyone is aware of a situation like what's depicted in Deliverance or that a piece of popular fiction even tried to educate people on male rape and the worst way to handle it. According to Tony Porter, who works with men on issues of, basically, what it means to be a man, the best way to tackle this issue is to teach men how to express themselves constructively after a traumatic experience. In the age of social justice, not every group that needs help is getting it, and it's partly because of a lack of popular representation in the media, so can we change that?

Getting back to the film itself, it's incredible. It's well-acted, beautifully shot, and the characters are, unfortunately because of what happens to them, a breath of fresh air from the usual stock characters who would normally be in a movie like this. They're incredibly well-rounded individuals, even though they basically all hold the same beliefs on what masculinity is. If you can put yourself through Deliverance, I highly recommend you watch it.