Deliverance: 40th Year Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

40 years later, one of the most talked about films in history, with regards to the outdoors and male bonding, makes its way to the Blu-ray format in a deluxe Blu-ray book for all of you Blu-ray book collectors out there. It’s a mighty fine one at that. In addition to the book package; special features and a brand new retrospective roundtable interview with the stars is also included. Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox, and Ned Beatty star in the film that shocked audiences worldwide and made you think twice about going into the woods into unfamiliar territory. Does Deliverance still hold true like it once did or has the passage of time made it not so threatening of a movie anymore? Keep reading to find out. 


Deliverance is the story of four friends from the city who decide to go out to the woods for some hunting, fishing, and canoeing through an area that is fit for demolition once the weekend is over. It’s the last chance they have to come face-to-face with nature before the gears of industry wipe out the entire habitat. Ed (Jon Voight), Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Bobby (Ned Beatty), and Drew (Ronny Cox) fancy themselves of superior intellect and condescend their way through a backwoods area of unfamiliarity. When they make a pit-stop and begin interacting with the locals they seem to have a rather snobby tone in doing so. People always seem to forget the golden rule when dealing with unfamiliar people in surroundings. When in Rome…do as the Romans do.

Lewis seems to be the alpha male of the group, so he takes command of the trek as he hires a couple of locals to drive their vehicles to the rendezvouz point. Driving through the winding roads and thick brush in these unfamiliar surroundings will be the least of their problems. As the men settle in, fish, canoe, and tell tales of the city left behind, they don’t realize that they’re being tracked by some very unsavory characters in those woods. The boys will have to put their collective heads together in order to try and stay alive. They’ve got two problems going for them, though. One: They’re being hunted. Two: Nature is very unforgiving.

I had always heard about Deliverance, but never got around to watching the film. From the classic quotes and classic dueling banjo scenes, etc., I just never got around to watching the film, but always knew what it was about. Good thing I was given the opportunity to watch it in this special 40-year anniversary Blu-ray set, because the film is very hardcore in its subject matter and the execution of the subject matter, with subtle subjective nuances that creep up here and there.

The first comparison I made when I saw what was going down in the beginning when the boys arrived at the pit-stop was to The Hills Have Eyes. Deliverance is The Hills Have Eyes without mutants, which makes it even scarier due to it being a more “real” type of film. Homo-eroticism also comes into play, but is never really focused on in Burt Reynold’s character. Lewis is the tough-as-nails “survivor” character who is pretty much waiting for civilization to consume itself, so that it can start all over again. He wants to be a part of that. Nevermind he’s decked out in a skin tight leather vest of sorts with leather wristbands. Bondage? I don’t know, but it makes a statement alright.

The rest of the cast does great with what they have to work with, especially Jon Voight, who I would never have pictured in the “hero” role – especially next to the burly Burt Reynolds. It’s the writing and direction along with the acting by everyone involved that elevates Deliverance as a great film. I can see how those that saw this film back in day called it the Jaws of the woods. Deliverance is a powerful thriller with some horror elements thrown in for good measure. Give it a go.


Deliverance is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen. I can’t comment as to whether this edition of Deliverance is the same one from the previous edition, because I’ve never seen that edition. I can say that this edition looks pretty stunning in of itself. Flesh tones appear natural, contrast is a little on the bright side due to the many outdoor scenes, black levels are inky and consistent without crushing, and color levels are just right. There are a few instances of dirt and debris that crop up here and there, but those are usually few and very far between. For a 40-year old film, Warner Bros. gave Deliverance the TLC it deserved. It’s a winner.


Deliverance is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. The sound quality on this Blu-ray may be a bit on the dated side, but that’s the inherent source of the foley effects and not the actual quality of the lossless track. Dialogue does sound crystal clear and is heavily fronted. The rear-channels do house the many ambient effects the great outdoors have to offer along with the occasional critter rustling about. It’s during the scenes of despair that feature our heroes plunging through the rapids at high speed that the sound quality takes a nose dive. The sound level sounds too bright and harsh in those scenes – it’s as if they had the microphones dipped in the water all the way through. Good thing it clears up as soon as they come out of the water. Other than the minor rafting quibble, the sound quality remains above average.


Deliverance comes packed with the same features from the past reissued Blu-ray, but this version includes the awesome Blu-ray book packaging along with a book filled with observations from the set and a brand-new round-table discussion featuring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox, and Ned Beatty as they reminisce about the film from 40 years ago. It’s a fun discussion, but Reynolds looks a little subdued, so Voight takes charge in leading the conversation. That feature is presented in HD and the rest of the features are presented in SD.

  • Deliverance: The Cast Remembers (HD)
  • Commentary by Director John Boorman
  • Deliverance: The Beginning (SD)
  • Deliverance: The Journey (SD)
  • Deliverance: Betraying the River (SD)
  • Deliverance: Delivered  (SD)
  • The Dangerous World of Deliverance (SD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD)


Everything you ever heard of Deliverance is absolutely true. It’s a harrowing journey into the depraved belly of the human condition. It’s graphic in its depictions of violence and terror. Hell, it was nominated for three Oscars, too. The Blu-ray collector’s book features outstanding video and above average audio with a more than adequate special features package. The roundtable discussion seals the deal on that front. If you’re just getting into the film or want to add another handsome Blu-ray book to your collection then this version of Deliverance on Blu-ray is what you’re looking for.


Order Deliverance: 40th Year Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray!


1 Response to “Deliverance: 40th Year Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Burt Reynolds is bad ass in this one.