Tonight marks the last night for one of the most famous — or infamous — movies in The Belcourt's "Visions of the South" series. In this week's Scene, Craig D. Lindsey digs into the reasons why John Boorman's film version of the James Dickey novel Deliverance traumatized a generation of moviegoers:
Deliverance's rape scene — an oft-referenced, oft-sampled, oft-parodied linchpin of popular culture — embodied a sort of PBS nightmare about the rabid underside of the old weird America. Not to mention that the movie's tourist-style gawking (play that banjo, you inbred-looking freak!) didn't exactly do wonders for the South's image. It was bad enough that Southerners were generally perceived as ignorant, racist rednecks. But after Deliverance, they were also seen as ignorant, racist redneck rapists.
So, um, why the hell is the Belcourt playing this movie as part of its "Visions of the South" series? ... Violation is a common thread in The Belcourt series, from the TVA forced-relocation drama Wild River to the hillbillies-from-hell gore movie Two Thousand Maniacs! It's a potent theme in the vanquished South, where in some quarters old times are still neither forgotten nor forgiven — but in Deliverance, it's more than metaphorical.