StudioCanal Launch Appeal For Lost Wicker Man Materials

by Martyn Conterio on 13/05/2013

the wicker man

Robin Hardy’s chilling classic, The Wicker Man, is forty years young. To celebrate the occasion – and to mark the film as one of Britain’s greatest, and oddest, horror pictures – StudioCanal have launched an appeal to help recover lost material.

The Wicker Man was released in the UK with very little publicity and tagged on to a double bill with Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. (Now that is what you’d call a great time at the movies.) Since then the film has grown in reputation and now considered one of the best British films ever made. As the story goes, Hardy’s cut was trimmed for release (to 87 mins) and since then the original negative materials vanished from their home at Shepperton Studios. The Wicker Man myth tells us – according to director Alex Cox – that the reels were buried under pylons that ran along the M4.

The history of the film, and its various releases, is hugely complicated. Since its release in 1973, there have been re-cuts seen in various territories. Roger Corman had a copy of the original 99-minutes version which was used for the US release. Since then, Corman’s copy been lost. A telecine transfer exists, however, from which an ‘Extended Version’ was re-released in 2001. The dream remains to find the lost footage and give a correct digital restoration.

In 2007, during a film festival in Brussels, star Christopher Lee stated: “I still believe it exists somewhere, in cans, with no name. I still believe that. But nobody’s ever seen it since, so we couldn’t re-cut it, re-edit it, which was what I wanted to do. It would have been ten times as good.”

A Facebook page has been set up in order to get the message spread across social media networks. Please visit Facebook/WickerManAppeal .

StudioCanal have the intention of restoring The Wicker Man for its 40th anniversary and perhaps, if any extra material is discovered, the picture could be seen in a cut closer to Hardy’s original intent.

The Wicker Man is the story of a police officer from mainland Scotland visiting Summerisle in search of a missing school girl. What he uncovers is both an affront to his religion (Christianity) and puts him in the greatest peril. In 2006 the film was remade by Hollywood and starred Nicolas Cage.

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