Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Appeal of The Wicker Man

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the The Wicker Man's original release. In celebration of this and continuing its project to conserve, restore and release for future generations the best of Classic British cinema, STUDIOCANAL announced its intention to release the most complete version of the film possible. The now widely lauded film was released with minimal promotion in 1973 as second feature of a double bill with Don’t Look Now. The version exhibited to audiences was significantly shorter than director Robin Hardy's original vision. In what has now become an apocryphal episode in British film history, the negatives disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios, were then allegedly used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 motorway, and are considered lost forever.

STUDIOCANAL are now appealing worldwide to film collectors, historians, programmers and all-round fans to support the campaign and come forward with any information relating to the potential whereabouts of original materials.

Director Robin Hardy comments: "I never thought that, after forty years, they would still be finding lost fragments of my film, we thought all of The Wicker Man had gone up in flames, but fragments keep turning up and the hunt goes on!"

STUDIOCANAL General Manager UK Home Entertainment John Rodden adds: "The Wicker Man is not only a great horror film; it is a true classic that grows in stature as the years pass. We’re now appealing to the public to help us create the most definitive version possible.”

A special Facebook page has been created to serve as a forum for the search to continue. For further updates and to join the conversation with any news please visit: www.facebook.com/WickerManAppeal

More details about the history of the various cuts of the film are below.



The Wicker Man: A Short History:

In 1973, Robin Hardy’s debut film The Wicker Man fell victim to a boardroom takeover at distribution company British Lion, and had its release temporarily shelved. A finished version of the film that director Hardy was happy with had been delivered with a running time of 102 minutes.

When it did finally reach UK cinemas that year, with little fanfare or promotion, and as part of a double bill with Don't Look Now, 15 minutes had been cut, leaving the film’s running time a trim 88 minutes. Director Robin Hardy and the other filmmakers had not been involved and did not approve of this new version.

A few years later when Hardy tried to track down his original version, he was told that all the negative trims from it that had been stored at Shepperton Studios had been thrown away, and the only “original negative” was now the 88-minute version. He finally managed to ascertain that Cult US Director Roger Corman still had a print of the full-length version, and this was used for the US theatrical release. Corman’s print has been missing since the 1980’s and only poor quality 1” video material is known to exist of this version.


Also of interest:

My article on Paul Giovanni's provocative score for The Wicker Man

Review of Robin Hardy's belated thematic 'sequel' to The Wicker Man, The Wicker Tree

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To James Gracey (BEHIND THE COUCH BLOG)

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