Michael R. Meadows
Adapted by James Dickey from his 1970 best-selling novel and directed by John Boorman, Deliverance (1972) follows the ordeal of four middle-aged men who must fight for their survival against a series of assaults by a group of mountain dwellers during a weekend canoeing trip. Testing the men both physically and psychologically, the adventure epitomizes the male bonding central to the emerging buddy film genre. Paralleling concerns about dominant masculinity expressed by the women's and gay liberation movements, the film examines the troubled state of traditional white, heterosexual masculinity in the United States. Alienated by urban stress and demoralized by emasculating managerial jobs, the men are experiencing a crisis in masculine identity at the beginning of the movie. As white southerners, the loss of power engendered by the recent civil rights movement further exacerbates their uncertainty about the traditional male role. In this context, the decision to return to nature ...