The Wicker Man Final Cut trailer
Who would have imagined that a film from 1973 would remain known as, some forty years after its release, the best British horror film ever made? Some might argue the best psychological horror film ever made although I think that's a little bit of a stretch, certainly it's up there with the best of them.
The Wicker Man written by Anthony Shaffer and directed by Robin Hardy is celebrating forty years since its release with a new restored version from an original print which was recently discovered and was based on Hardy's first cut of the film.
This new restoration of The Wicker Man is approved by the original director and looks fantastic in the trailer that has just been released for it.
Speaking back in July through Screen Daily, Robin Hardy had this to say about this new version:
"I'm very pleased to announce that StudioCanal have been able to find an actual print of The Wicker Man, which is based on my original cut working with Abraxas, the American distributors, all those years ago…
…StudioCanal contacted me last year in their search for the original materials that have been missing…
…This version will - optimistically - be known as the Final Cut."
I think it will be the final cut, after all restored from an original print, brought together with the blessing of the original director who says that this is close to his original cut and idea for the film, and converted to Blu-ray as well as a limited theatrical release - how could it get better than that?
The article tells us that after StudioCanal put out a call for missing materials from the film Harvard Film Archives revealed they had an original 35mm print. Robin Hardy viewed it and confirmed that this was the version he had edited together with Abraxas in 1979 for the American release, and that edit was based on the original version that was edited together and never released.
That original edit is known imaginatively as the "Long Version" with this rediscovered print known as the "Middle Version", sadly it looks as though that original edit will never be released, although that is perhaps why there's a glimmer of hope for another release.
You may be wondering what the need is for another version of the film to be released, after all we've seen it a number of times before and apart from releasing it on 4k Blu-ray, what's the real point? Well the version that most have seen, referred to as the "Short Version", is the one that Hardy believes is the worst narratively speaking.
"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."
The article at Screen Daily points out some of these restorations to the story however I will just say that the story structure and timing of key events would appear to change and give a different story structure and a somewhat different timeline.
Whether this will change things for the audience that much remains to be seen, but the trailer does look fantastic and the promise of a genuinely new edit of a film is always an enticing one, especially when created from a previously lost print.
A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there.
Here's the trailer through TrailerAddict for The Wicker Man Final Cut:
I would have been sold on the Blu-ray release alone.