The Wicker Man

1973

Directed By

Robin Hardy

Synopsis

The Wicker Man, frequently voted the Best Horror Film of all time was brilliantly scripted by Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth, Frenzy) and features a career-best performance by the legendary Christopher Lee. Director Robin Hardy’s atmospheric use of location, unsettling imagery and haunting soundtrack gradually builds to one of the most terrifying and iconic climaxes in modern cinema.

When a young girl mysteriously disappears on a remote Scottish island, devout Christian Police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) travels there to investigate. He finds a close-knit and secretive pastoral community living on an island paradise, ruled over by mysterious Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), with beliefs very much at odds with his own puritanism. The islanders mock Howie’s attempts to question them about the girl’s disappearance, and put the very foundations of his faith to the test. He begins to fear that the fate of the girl could be linked to the islanders’ failing crops and their belief that only a sacrifice of the highest order will change their luck. As May Day festivities intensify and the islanders’ behaviour becomes more frenzied, Howie’s quest to save the girl becomes a race against time…

For this release, STUDIOCANAL conducted an extensive worldwide search for film materials for The Wicker Man, including a public appeal to fans for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing original cut. Eventually a 35mm release print was found at Harvard Film Archives which director Robin Hardy confirmed is the cut he had put together with distributors Abraxas in 1979 for the US release.Robin accepted that film materials for the fabled Long Version or “Director’s Cut” will probably now never be found. “Sadly, it seems as though this has been lost forever. However, I am delighted that a 1979 Abraxas print has been found as I also put together this cut myself, and it crucially restores the story order to that which I had originally intended. This version of The Wicker Man will (optimistically!) be known as The Final Cut.” Of paramount importance to Hardy is that the events on the island take place over a 72-hour period and that Lord Summerisle is established as a character far earlier than in the Short Version (the only version to ever have been previously shown in UK cinemas). Another important inclusion in The Final Cut is the performance of the song Gently Johnny, which is key in signaling both the strange and unusual community into which Sergeant Howie is intruding, and its complicity in events on the island.

When asked whether this cut measures up to the fabled original, long version, Robin Hardy put it most succinctly: “The film as I saw it in the editing suite the other day fulfills my vision of what it was intended to convey to the audience.“

Cast
Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento & Ingrid Pitt
Other Credits

Screenplay By Antony Shaffer

Release Date
14 October 2013
extras
  • New Worshipping the Wicker Man – Famous Fans featurette including interviews with Ben Wheatley, James Watkins and Eli Roth
  • New Interview with Robin Hardy (new)
  • New Featurette on the Cult of the Soundtrack
  • New The Wicker Man: 40 years on Featurette
  • New Restoration comparison
  • The Final Cut
  • UK Theatrical Cut
  • The Director’s Cut (seamless branching on BD only)
  • Audio Commentary
  • Making of the Audio Commentary
  • Burnt Offering: The Cult of The Wicker Man, written by Mark Kermode
  • Interview with Christopher Lee & Robin Hardy (1979)
  • Original Soundtrack
  • Booklet
  • New Trailer
  • Original Trailer
  • English SDH
Restoration Details

STUDIOCANAL conducted an extensive worldwide search for film materials for this 2k restoration of The Wicker Man, including a public appeal to fans for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing original cut. Eventually a 35mm release print was found at Harvard Film Archives which director Robin Hardy has confirmed is the cut he had put together with distributors Abraxas in 1979 for the US release.

Robin accepts that film materials for the fabled Long Version or “Director’s Cut” will probably now never be found. “Sadly, it seems as though this has been lost forever. However, I am delighted that a 1979 Abraxas print has been found as I also put together this cut myself, and it crucially restores the story order to that which I had originally intended. This version of The Wicker Man will (optimistically!) be known as The Final Cut.” Of paramount importance to Hardy is that the events on the island take place over a 72-hour period and that Lord Summerisle is established as a character far earlier than in the Short Version (the only version to ever have been previously shown in UK cinemas). Another important inclusion in The Final Cut is the performance of the song Gently Johnny, which is key in signaling both the strange and unusual community into which Sergeant Howie is intruding, and its complicity in events on the island.

Pressbook

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