There will be a retrospective of nine of John Boorman’s works at the Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre from Friday, Feb. 20, through Thursday, Feb. 26. On Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m., Boorman himself makes a rare appearance at the screening of his new film, “Queen and Country.”

Movies are a central part of modern literature. The works of this legendary director are some of its classics. His works are not box office blockbusters, yet they are beloved by audiences and his work is true to his vision. Early in his career, Boorman felt the frustration of having a studio force changes on him. So he started producing his own films. The result is a body of work that is clearly his style — he has followed his own creative inspiration, which is colorful, intense, thought provoking and imaginative.

Probably Boorman’s best-known film is “Deliverance,” screening Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. In early 1971, the young director hand-picked a cast of talented actors, relatively unknown at the time, to work with him on a film rendition of the best-selling novel by James Dickey. The tale begins when four friends from Atlanta decide to take a break from the monotony of their city lives with a canoe trip down a river deep in the north Georgia mountains. Boorman chose not to shoot in a safer location. He took his cast and crew into the actual isolated mountains described in the book, on an adventure that mirrored the story itself. Probably the only person on the crew who had previously experienced anything like the wild shoot that followed, was cinematographer Wilmos Zsigmond, who had dodged bullets climbing a wall to escape communist Hungary in 1956. Boorman truly inspired everyone to put fears on hold and go for it.

Examples: In charge of opening and closing a dam upriver to create whitewater scenes was a local guy who liked a few beers in the afternoon. More than once, he slipped up on the controls. A huge deluge would surge downstream causing the cast and crew to believe they were about plummet over the falls. Burt Reynolds did most of his own daredevil stunts. John Voight really was hanging onto a rocky cliff. I had the privilege of being on set with a Super 8 camera filming the adventure of the shoot, so I am a witness.

The resulting film is a visually rich roller coaster of a story. It draws you in and never lets go. It illuminates the deep chasm that exists between divergent cultures inhabiting close territories. Since its release in 1972, “Deliverance” has become an icon of film history and a social catalyst for the north Georgia mountain communities where it took place. Boorman knew how to set the wheels rolling and let the story move itself through a rich and fascinating emotional and physical landscape. You too can take a trip down this raging river of primal human emotion — just go see “Deliverance” at the Aero.

Rated R. 110 minutes.

For tickets to the John Boorman retrospective, visit www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/movie-alchemist-the-films-of-john-boorman.

Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her at kwboole@gmail.com.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *