What Is 'Deliverance's 'Squeal Like A Pig' Scene Really About?

By | April 4, 2019

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You've heard the line "squeal like a pig!" and you're probably aware that it's from the 1972 film Deliverance. What happens in the "squeal like a pig" scene is a brutal sexual violation, one that is shocking to watch even 47 years later. But while the scene is, on its surface, a lurid gothic thriller with horror elements that features an all-male cast, it's also making a strong point about sexual violence directed at women.

The tense 1972 film about four men attempting to survive in America’s backwoods has long been one of the best and most terrifying films about the nightmares that wait for us just outside the modern urban sprawl. The most famous scene in the film is when Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty) is forced to “squeal like a pig” while he's sexually assaulted by terrifying backwoods men, as his friend Ed Gentry (Jon Voight) watches, unable to help. Even if you haven’t seen this movie you know about this unforgettable movie moment, but what happens in the squeal like a pig scene?

The film is brooding look at the effects of modernization, machismo, and assault, and all of that is distilled into a haunting three and a half minute scene by director John Boorman. Everything about Deliverance is disturbing, but it’s such a thrill ride that it’s impossible to look away, so how did the filmmakers behind this scene capture something so real? 

Dueling Banjos Sets The Stage For The Horror To Come

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Source: (warnerbros.com)

Even now, nearly 50 years after its release in 1972, the twang of a banjo elicits the tense feeling of being lost in the middle of nowhere. The scene itself begins harmlessly enough, much like the journey of the film’s four main characters, with guitar-toting city slicker Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) engaging in a simple musical back and forth with a rural boy. However, by the end of the scene, the boy is tearing up the banjo and breaking away from the song’s rhythm, essentially overpowering Cox.

Until the final moments of the scene where Cox can be heard saying, “I’m lost,” it’s a fun watch. It’s clear by the final moments of “Dueling Banjos” that the four men from Atlanta, and the audience, are in for a bumpy ride. They're in a place where they don't belong, they've brought a condescending attitude and the locals aren't interested in being friendly.