Unearthed! THE WICKER MAN: THE FINAL CUT Promises Robin Hardy's Original Vision

Peter Martin, Managing Editor

Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man has become an unwavering classic that is still capable of chilling modern audiences. Yet, when the director spoke with Twitch's Kurt Halfyard and Michael Guillen back in 2011, he ruefully observed, "The actual cut of the film which I consider to be my cut, as the director, was never shown in the UK at all. They only showed a sort of butchered cut which for some reason became quite popular."

Good news: Hardy's cut has been unearthed! Screen Daily has the story, in Hardy's own words:

"StudioCanal contacted me last year in their search for the original materials that have been missing.

"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.

"They plan, and this is the exciting bit, to actually release it. This version has never been restored before, has never been shown in UK theatres before, has never been converted to Blu-ray before.

"This version will - optimistically - be known as the Final Cut."


The Wicker Man: The Final Cut will be released in the UK in select theatres on September 27, and then be made available on Blu-ray and DVD on October 14. It's all timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the film, which stars Edward Woodward as a police officer investigating the disappearance of a little girl on an island inhabited by people who have developed their own system of beliefs. Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland also star.

It's a great film that stands the test of time, and I've bought a couple of different versions on DVD; the latest was a two-disc set that included information on the footage that was excised back in 1973. The original cut should be fascinating to see for those who are already familiar with the film, and perhaps a revelation to those who have never seen it before.

Around the Internet:
  • Kemetic Wanderer

    No idea why people find the movie to be frightening. Paganism saturated, yes. Scary, no. But happy to hear of another version.

  • Frank Dupont

    I'm curious as to how this cut will be different from the one used by Anchor Bay in 2001 for their special edition? That "directors cut" was found in the possession of Roger Corman. The source was a telecine master, so, for starters, this new version should at least have much better video and sound quality for the extended bits.

    However the Corman cut was only 99 minutes long - I just confirmed it by popping in the disc - and the article linked above mentions a running time of 102 minutes. So will this cut be even longer? Maybe not since for mysterious reasons, the 99'-cut is often quoted to be 102 minutes long. Still that may suggest Hardy had an even longer cut in mind than the one he send Roger Corman.

    Regardless, I'm not sure the movie benefits from being longer. While there are scenes, like the Christoper Lee apple-monologue and many of the folk songs, that should never have been excised from the massacred 87' cut, in other parts the extended cut drags. For instance, it starts for no good reason on the mainland where sergeant Howie is given his assignment to find the missing Rowan Morrison, only to repeat that exact same information the moment he lands on Summerisle.
    The best scenario would be for Hardy to revisit his cut one more time and deliver something more complete but also more tightly paced.

  • John

    I'm wondering if this is a third version? I recall that I first saw the film in the 1990s on VHS, and it wasn't the theatrical version...it was the long cut with the Sergeant Howie intro. I didn't see the theatrical version until the Anchor Bay special edition.

    I love the Howie mainland intro...I think it really establishes the kind of man he is, and why Summerisle would have chosen him.

    This might help...I think we're getting the "middle version" which we've already seen but is certainly preferable to the theatrical version:

    http://www.steve-p.org/wm/

  • Omar Hauksson

    Could it be the time difference between PAL and NTSC? There is usually about 4 minute time difference between the two regions on a 90 minute movie.

  • Frank Dupont

    I doubt it. The disc I used is an american import - should be NTSC and thus have the longer running time.

  • J Hurtado

    I adore this film, and the thought of a proper restoration makes me uncontrollably giddy. The DVD editions have been pretty ugly, I pre-ordered this about a month ago when, presumably, Studio Canal still weren't sure which version they'd be presenting.

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