A cool and classic post-Halloween event in Los Angeles on November 1 is “The Wicker Man - The Final Cut.” In 1973, British filmmaker Robin Hardy directed this thriller starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, and Britt Ekland. Never receiving much press when the film premiered, the film has risen to cult status in recent years. That’s partially because of its creepy tale, and its troubled distribution history, which included various edited versions of the film in release and the search for the director's cut.
“The Wicker Man” tells of devoutly Christian cop Neil Howie (Woodward) who investigates the case of a missing girl on a remote Scottish Island. Eccentric villagers live on the island and care not for Howie and his Christian ways. Instead they follow the island’s Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) and his worship of pagan Gods. And these Gods demand a sacrifice.
Sadly, even with this strong cast of horror stalwarts, the film’s doomed and soon-to-be bankrupt U.K. distributor chopped up the print and shortened the film so it could play on double-bills. Director Hardy was devastated and always hoped for a restored version. He followed many leads trying to find his original cut.
Earlier this year, for the film’s 40th Anniversary, forward-thinking, worldwide rights distributor Studiocanal used social media to initiate a search for either missing footage or maybe even perhaps a missing 35mm print of “The Wicker Man.” This Facebook campaign resulted in finding a 92-minute, 35mm release print at the Harvard Film Archive.
83-year-old director, Robin Hardy, inspected the scanned print sent to him in London and confirmed that this was indeed the cut he had put together for the American distributors in 1979. “The Wicker Man” was found and a digital restoration was made to the delight of the director, cast and fans everywhere!
To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, the Nuart Theatre will exclusively screen in Los Angeles the digitally restored “The Wicker Man – The Final Cut” beginning November 1 for one week.
And, as a special bonus, acclaimed Swedish actress, Britt Ekland will appear in person to introduce and answer questions at the 7:30 p.m. show on Friday, November 1.
Don’t miss out on British horror cult favorite “The Wicker Man,” which today enjoys a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.