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Where Was Deliverance Filmed?

August 4, 2020
3 min read

‘Deliverance’, directed by John Boorman, is a thriller film that negotiates the theme of colonization while manifesting a fatalistic vision of the same. Four businessmen friends, Lewis, Ed, Bobby, and Drew (played by Burt Reynolds, John Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox respectively) decide to track the course of the Cahulawassee River. They are the aloof third-person onlookers who want to take a look at the river before it is destroyed by a hydroelectric project. The friends represent everything ‘civilized’, while the indigenous people around the river are ‘uncivilized’, or ‘the other’. The cultural anomaly of inbreeding is used to separate the latter from the former. There is a musical duel between a tribal boy and Drew, and the score sets the theme of the film.

The friends make the best of the trip by making canoeing through the heaving rapids on the river. During an adventure in the woods, the group is divided, and Ed and Bobby run into trouble with the locals. Bobby is raped by a tribal man, and Lewis arrives just in time to save Ed. In the process, Lewis kills one assaulter with an arrow. The group buries the body and continues its project of canoeing. Thereafter, the group is stalked and Drew is supposedly shot. Ed chases the stalker and manages to kill him. Later, both the dead men are buried before the group returns home.

Deliverance Filming Locations

The film was primarily filmed in Georgia and South Carolina. The fictional river of the film is actually shot at the Chattooga River, which forms Georgia’s border with South Carolina. There are a few famous rapids where the adventure scenes were shot, but the director chose the lesser-known ones. One location from the movie is now called the Deliverance Rock, and it is a tourist cynosure now. Some parts of the film were also shot in Sylva, North Carolina.

Georgia

The exact location of the film was north-western Georgia, at Clayton and Rabun Rock. The film is inspired by the 1970 flooding of the Coosawattee River, which is just 50 miles to the west of the shooting location. The crew could have shot at the original location, had not the woods around it been destroyed from the flooding. Since the pristine nature of the place had to be shown to emphasize the potential damage of natural habitat, the filming location was chosen differently. The famous chasing scene in which Ed kills the stalker was the cliff around Tallulah Falls. This place is a couple of miles from Lake Tugaloo, which can be reached by the Earl’s Ford Road that runs below Highway 76. While you cannot actually reach this place, you can actually make it to the Tallulah Point overlook through Highway 441.

South Carolina

The heaving waters shown at the end of the film is shot at the Jocassee Lake. In fact, the portentous turbulence of the rapids immediately connects the viewer with real events. To look back at history, the filming of Deliverance was a contemporaneous event with real-life flooding of the Jocassee Lake by a power holding company. Interestingly, this lake is only 30 miles to the east from Clayton, through Oconee County in South Carolina. Certain scenes are from Beaufort as well, which you might want to add to your bucket list!

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