12 October 2013

The Wicker Man – The Final Cut Review


Certificate:
15 (UK)
Release:
11th October (Cinemas) and  14th October (DVD & BR)
Director:
Robin Hardy
Stars:
Edward Woodward, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Britt Ekland, Christopher Lee

Buy The Wicker Man 40th Anniversary Edition: [DVD]/ [Blu-ray]

The Wicker Man is now considered by many to be the greatest British horror film ever made. It originally was released as support feature to Nicolas Roeg’s great Don’t Look Now. It faded into obscurity for a few years till the film magazine Cinefantastique called it “the Citizen Kane of horror movies”. I wouldn’t go that far but it is film from the get go that has such an atmosphere that is so off kilter and menacing. The closes I can compare it to something like Seconds or David Lynch even though it’s radically different in almost every way.

The film concerns Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward). He receives an anonymous letter that young Rowan Morrison is missing. Sergeant Howie travels to the remote Hebridean island. The local seems to have an ulterior motive from the get go, they keep saying they haven’t seen him for the bulk of the film. The film unsettling nature is certainly helped by the bizarre musical numbers that are sung by the locals. The film also has one of the most iconic endings in British film history, which is as bleak as you can get.

The film has a very interesting pro-Christian message through the film which very atypical of most films. The film Neil Howie is a devout Christian so much so he is still a Virgin and the villagers are all creepy and evil Celtic Pagans. The Pagans are lead by a deliciously creepy performance by Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle and gives one of his career best performances and it’s much better than his performances in those extremely overrated Hammer films.

The film over the years has developed a rabid cult following. Mark Kermode made a documentary on the film in 2001 that is also included on this Blu-ray. It is now considered one of the finest British films of all-time and along with the film it supported Don’t Look Now is cited as one of the truly great British horror films. The film was originally cut by about 8 minutes in it’s original release. It was restored to a 92-minute cut (which is called the Final Cut on this disc) and a later even longer “Director’s Cut”. The director Robin Hardy now considered the 92-minute cut to be “the final cut”. The disc is absolutely packed with tons of documentaries, interviews, commentaries and the 3 aforementioned cuts. The release also includes a soundtrack cd of those creepy folk songs.

★★★★½

Ian Schultz


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