John Boorman’s film about four city-dwellers getting their comeuppance while canoeing down a doomed river through inbred-land, exercised strict authenticity through a virtual absence of incidental music. So the idea of a soundtrack seems a bit “spooky” to say the least. The film’s mere handful of music cues are all variations of the innocent-turned-demonic “Banjo Duel”. The heartstopping rushes down the murderous Appalachian river needed no accompaniment, but the banjo theme proves a simple, effective tool in psychologising the countryside. It expresses the ominous “something” in the river, it shows up the city dwellers’ short-lived oblivion, and “mickey-mouses” Jon Voight’s desperate slide off the cliff. Once again John Boorman showed audiences that less is more. In the case of Deliverance, buying the soundtrack will ironically hold the opposite experience to watching the video. You’re not buying a movie soundtrack at all, but some nice country “geetar” and banjo tunes that have nothing to do with the film–the only way to relive the movie experience is playing “spot the evil” during the title track, “Duelling Banjos”. Deliverance the album will be the quirky item in your Bluegrass collection.
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