I had stumbled upon the movie on TV one Saturday or Sunday afternoon but I barely remembered seeing it, probably too caught up in pretending to play left field for the Boston Red Sox or sinking a last second half court shot for the Boston Celtics or diving over the goal line for a decisive touchdown. Or winning Wimbledon. You get the picture.
I somehow knew that Dickey was a poet first and that this was his only novel. I was intrigued by that, by someone clawing their way to the top of an arcane outdated field and then jumping genres to produce an enduring masterpiece. Plus a movie still famous for anal rape. Right on.
First the novel. I began reading it on a weekend night or summer night. Point being I did not have to be up the next morning. I read through until dawn and finished it.
A more harrowing night of entertainment you could not imagine. Dickey masterfully leads us into a savage unknowable landscape which is almost supernatural in essence. The men set out on what is designed to be some sort of back to nature back in touch with your testosterone trip and wind up fighting for their lives with the creatures who actually inhabit that world all the time.
After a terrifying sequence of events that you most likely remember from the movie, the main character is climbing a rock face in hopes of getting one clear shot at murder. I felt as if my fingernails were digging into the rock along with him. I was exhausted. I'd been reading for almost 8 hours straight but I couldn't stop. This mirrored the main character's experience to such a perfect degree that each word felt like a drop of sweat on my own forehead.
I closed the last page feeling as if I'd never be the same, as if I could never quite trust anything again. I don't know if any other novel I've ever read more directly imparts the central theme contained therein.
Now, the movie.
More specifically Burt Motherfucking Reynolds.
Anyone who only associates Burt Motherfucking Reynolds with Dom Deluise, stupid Camaro movies or even 'Boogie Nights' which is fantastic, needs to drop everything, infant babies included and watch 'Deliverance' right the fuck now.
Excuse the swearing but merely thinking about 'Deliverance' (movie or book) will cause a major uptick in bullshit male behavior.
Burt Motherfucking Reynolds swaggers all over this movie like a grizzly staring down another grizzly who thinks he can have a piece of Burt Motherfucking Reynolds' grizzly bitch pussy. Guess what? Burt Motherfucking Reynolds ain't gonna let you anywhere near that sweet grizzly pussy. Because he is Burt Motherfucking Reynolds.
All testosterone fueled language innapropriateness aside, Burt Motherfucking Reynolds pretty much defines 'movie star' in this film. He doesn't seem to be an actor. He is THAT guy in THAT situation. Seems easy, right? Well it ain't. Just because you are as tough as Burt Motherfucking Reynolds doesn't mean you can ACT as tough as Burt Motherfucking Reynolds.
Ask Jean Claude Van Damme. He could kick just about any ass in real life. He'd have seemed RIDICULOUS in this movie.
'Deliverance'. Check out film and book. Not necessarily in that order but it don't matter.