September 2nd, 2007

Filmed in 1972, the movie Deliverance tells a story about four suburban professionals who endeavor on their final canoe journey down a river in rural Georgia that is scheduled to be flooded by real estate developers – imminently burying the valley, its provincial residents, and their culture along with it. By depicting the conflict between rival characters – city men and the country folk they encounter – the film addresses the deeper theme of urbanism versus rurality. It is not just a movie about survival, wit, and human nature; it is a movie about the rapidly disappearing countryside.

Based on a novel written in 1970, Deliverance illustrates the disparities between rural lifestyles and overpowering suburban culture. Suburbs became prevalent in the United States in the 1960s with the rise of Levittowns – mass-produced neighborhoods designed to supply affordable housing to veterans after World War II. This movie confirms that aversion to suburbs is not a recent phenomenon. As little as a decade after they became widespread, the threats that suburbs presented to the rural landscape were apparent and were being deliberated in film and literature. Why, then, were no efforts made to prevent reckless growth?

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