Deliverance lets us know that just because we have a wild hair up our ass to go canoeing and thrive in nature instead of playing golf and getting sick of our aging wives for a weekend, it doesn't mean that we are fit for it. Eventually, mankind does "beat" nature in Deliverance, as the valley is flooded to make a reservoir. But for the most part, despite all of our book-learnin' and highfalutin displays of mental superiority when faced with mountain men, we are powerless. We survive, but only because we push ourselves past the limit of "civility." To put it simply, you can't handshake your way out of an arrow in the side. That will be engraved on my tombstone.
Well, either that or my last words, "Shake on this, motherfuckers!"
Now, I totally understand that "Paddle faster. I hear banjo music!" looks ways better on a whitewater rafting gift shop t-shirt than "You've gotten soft, old man. You are no conqueror." But the parts of Deliverance that deal heavily in stringed instruments and sodomy have overtaken any importance that the driving themes might have in the lexicon of pop culture. Thanks to ceaseless parody and overexposure, Deliverance has transformed into a kind of gentler version of The Hills Have Eyes. And the only thing that's ever longed for that position was called The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. Oooh, need some aloe vera for that burn, 1985 Wes Craven?
This guy knows what I'm talking about. Now stop talking about this guy.