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Wicker Man sequel halts filming

CowboysforChrist.jpgThis is surprising news indeed, you would have thought that a sequel to The Wicker Man by the very man who directed Anthony Shaffer's original story would have been hot property, but no, it seems that the production has stopped filming in Scotland due to budgetary issues, and there's not word if it will continue.

Filming was set to start this month in Dumfries and Galloway, with casting about to begin for extras and accommodation booked for some ninety people for four weeks, however the local council announced that the plans had been cancelled.

Dumfries and Galloway is actually one of the locations where the original The Wicker Man film was shot in 1973, but local councillor Gill Dykes revealed that the production company had cancelled the shoot due to difficulties with financing and that they are looking to put alternative funding in place.

Councillor Dykes says that this is a big blow to local businesses and the Scottish region, as well as being bitterly disappointing for the film itself.

There's no word on if the production of Cowboys for Christ is going to be scrapped, but the word from the official council press release through the BBC is that the production company are trying to find alternative funding, and the council haven't yet been told that the production won't come to the region and still hold out some hope.

I know you're thinking that this is probably good news because the film is a remake of such a classic piece of cinema, but this is based on the story written by Robin Hardy called Cowboys of Christ, and Hardy himself was the original director. Not only that but the cast included Christopher Lee, from the original film, and Joan Collins. So for me there was definitely a lot more interest in this film than most remakes we hear of.

It is a shame and I really do hope that they find that additional funding to continue.



COWBOYS FOR CHRIST The second film in The Wicker Man Trilogy.

NEITHER a PREQUEL or a SEQUEL, nor a RE-MAKE, COWBOYS FOR CHRIST on May Day is to be the SECOND FILM in what may be called THE WICKER MAN TRILOGY.

Robin Hardy, author, screenwriter and film director designate of Cowboys for Christ and director of the original The Wicker Man film as well as co-author of the novel of the same name…. lays some media rumours and canards to rest :

Principally :Why is Robin Hardy remaking his own film, The Wicker Man ?

He is NOT remaking The Wicker Man. Who ever remade a film they have already directed? A re-make of The Wicker Man, however, written and directed by Neil LaBute, was released in 2006. Nicolas Cage starred in the role created by Edward Woodward in the original film. No-one involved in Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man was in any way involved in the ‘re-make’. At one point the Producers of the re-make had (or allowed) Robin Hardy’s name to appear next to that of Neil LaBute, as co-writer, in the Hollywood trade paper listings. It took a considerable number of e-mails from Robin and his lawyers to the re-make’s producers to ensure that his name was removed.

Relying on the box-office potency of Nicolas Cage’s name world-wide, the re-make of The Wicker Man did not actually lose money, but it was slaughtered by the critics both sides of the Atlantic. Some pointed out that it had been robbed of the humour, the sexiness and, most importantly, the beautiful music ( much of it based on Robert Burns’ songs ) of the original and as a result the horror, when it came, was pure bathos.

Robin Hardy’s Cowboys for Christ, a novel which Christopher Lee describes as “ Erotic, romantic, comic and horrific enough to loosen the bowels of a bronze statue,” was written partly to serve as the basis for the second film in a trilogy where The Wicker Man has led the way. The third film, “The Twilight of The Gods”, to be set in Burbank, California and Iceland
will close the trilogy with a sensational re-imagining of the last act of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”.

The Wicker Man, after its theatrical triumph in the USA in 1979-80, became a huge success in the English-speaking TV market and, in recent years , spectacularly profitable in video and, later, in DVD. So with a substantial fan base for The Wicker Man to which must be added Christopher Lee’s impressive following world-wide, there clearly exists a ready audience for films in this highly original genre – for Cowboys for Christ and, later on, for The Twilight of the Gods.

Some journalists who may not have read any of the relevant material have reported that Cowboys for Christ is a remake of The Wicker Man. This is incorrect. Is Bad Day at Black Rock a remake of Shane or High Noon or vice versa ? They are ALL excellent Cowboy Movies. So are dozens of other Cowboy films inhabiting the same territory. Theirs was a hugely successful genre of motion picture, complete with it’s own recognisable iconography. We believe that each film in our Wicker Man trilogy will confirm that the genre we have created is as beguiling as the inhabitants and landscape in the three films that make up The Lord of the Rings or the three films that are the ‘Godfather’ series. Hugely different obviously, but equally unique.

The originality of The Wicker Man, it’s occasional use of songs to virtually narrate the story, but well short of making the film a ‘musical’, its use of eroticism and humour, it’s avoidance of blood or gruesome detail, but reliance on the audience’s imagination to convey horror – all these elements defied accepted formulae making every studio ‘pass’ on the screenplay in the nineteen seventies. It was left to Christopher Lee and Robin Hardy to arrange the highly successful distribution of the film in America. ‘ What is it ?’ the Sales and Marketing departments of the Studios asked. “ How can it be a horror film with all those jokes ? Where is the blood ? Why is there no scary music instead of those cute folk songs ?” But after Cinefantastique, a leading Hollywood film magazine, called it The Citizen Kane of Horror Films and devoted a whole issue to it, the film started to break cinema ‘house’ records from Boston to San Francisco. People started to ‘get it’ and critics and audiences have been ‘getting it’ ever since. They will ‘get it’ with Cowboys for Christ; we just have to be persistent and make the film. Then the audience will laugh and cry and, many of them, find themselves still shuddering as they leave the cinema

Our current experience with Cowboys for Christ has been similar to that which confronted us with The Wicker Man in the seventies. Plus - it has been necessary to finance the film with disparate equity investments. One of these investors, putting up £750,000 ( $ 1.5m ), appears to have been wiped out by the current Credit Crunch leaving us, within two weeks of starting to shoot, to replace his investment. This naturally led to our producers ( Peter Watson-Wood and Alastair Gourlay ) to postpone the production till we have closed the gap. Replacing this money in the current financial climate will not be easy but investors are trickling in from both sides of the Atlantic. We are determined to make Cowboys for Christ – very soon.

An Open Letter to Robin Hardy -

First off, I'd like to say I enjoyed your film, "The Wicker Man". The plot was well constructed and in general, the film was well written and directed.
My main criticism comes in however, in regards to your persistent misrepresentation of pagan beliefs. While I understand that much of your sources came from Frazer's Golden Bough - both a classical sourcebook, and more lately found to contain gross generalizations and fictionalizations of historic pagan folk beliefs and practices - and many statements contained within the Wicker Man are truly in line with actual Pagan beliefs, the actual and real sacrifice of humans, or for that matter, even animals, in modern pagan ritual is completely untrue.
I am a Pagan. As a Wiccan, I believe that the nature is sacred and interacts with man in the forms of the god and goddess. Our sacrifices are ones of thanks - incense, libations of wine or ale or water, offerings of cakes or the fruits of the harvest, Even the Wicker man himself as a straw effigy. In ancient times, Julius Cesar (hardly an unbiased source on British culture) tells of the druids burning condemned criminals in a wicker man - an assertion that has little other evidence to confirm it. Modern Pagans however, do not, and have never practiced human sacrifice in their rituals. To do so is against the very tenants of our faith: that all of life is sacred. Thus we "harm none" as it says in the Wiccan Rede.
Because of the richness of many details in your original film, I and many other Pagans overlook the misrepresentation and enjoy the film for its other thematic elements. However, I begin to question your motives when I find that your sequel film, "Cowboys for Christ" rehashes the theme of murderous heathens killing Christians, apparently without even the semi-sympathetic treatment given in the first movie.
Pagans have labored over the past 60 years against ingrained prejudice and open hostility from "mainstream" society due to misconceptions of our beliefs, often perpetrated by popular media. Our rights to openly hold and practice our beliefs have been hard-fought. Though Wicca has been recognized as an official religion in the United States in 1986, we continue to struggle even for the most basic rights granted to any other religion. Certainly, movies that portray members of our faith as insane murderous fanatics does nothing to advance an open and honest discussion of our rights in the public forum.
Please consider the repercussions of your fiction before you make the film. Certainly the Christian religion is not blameless on the score of murdering others in the name of their religion. See also: The Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Burning Times.


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