Deliverance & Archetypes

I’m reading a book from John Boorman, English director known for Excalibur or The Emerald Forest.

Deliverance is a survival movie, a very disturbing piece of. Here’s the plot I found on IMDB :

On a weekend canoeing trip down a river in the Georgia back country, four urban businessmen enter a nightmare in which both nature and mankind conspire to send them through a crucible of danger and degradation in which their lives and perhaps even their souls are put at horrendous risk.

I had a friend a long time ago who explained me the beginning of the movie after he assisted a masterclass about it. What I found in the book confirms it, and goes even further. Here we go :

The four guys are obviously Archetypes, and Boorman says that they’re all a part of the novel writer.

  1. Drew is clever, an introvert, scrupulous and gentle.
  2. Lewis is mister muscle and macho, taking decisions and full of contempt.
  3. Bobby is the fat guy, trying jokes all the time, not at ease with anything.
  4. Ed is timorous. He’s the guitar player and wears spectacles. The artist, the idealist.


Of course, the movie is pushing all these men into turmoil. Of course, the “men living in the forest” are not impressed at all by the city boys, and will become aggressive. Of course, mother nature is not spread all around for the pleasure of smart-asses from the city, the river is unintelligible and dangerous. And of course, macho man won’t handle this situation at all (and other lessons you’ll discover if you watch this disturbing movie).


I have much pleasure reading the book, because Boorman explains that the actors were also like Archetypes. Voight was really always thinking and full of doubts, and Reynolds acting directly, finding his role in “action”. And, says Boorman, helping Voight to use his instincts instead of his strong brain.


Tools :

Archetypes. They are always accurate to watch people, right? Astrology or MBTI too (but aren’t they archetypes, in a way?). You can also think about patterns you find in people. Personality traits. It helps to understand, to take a picture of a group.


It also shows a lesson : human beings are full of surprises. Full of “as ifs”. They lie to themselves. They don’t act accordingly. And in action, they can evolve… amazingly!

Maybe one lesson of life is to see that Archetypes don’t work.


Thanks for reading!






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