New York-based distributor Rialto Pictures has announced the U.S. release of The Wicker Man – Final Cut, the definitive version of Robin Hardy’s thriller of pagan worshippers on a remote Scottish island. Seen for decades only in mutilated copies, the new Studiocanal restoration is the culmination of a long search (conducted via Facebook) for the complete director’s cut. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the cult classic.
Rialto will roll out the restored version beginning September 27 at IFC Center, New York City, with runs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and other cities throughout the fall!
“After receiving an anonymous letter about a missing 12-year-old girl, devoutly Christian cop Edward Woodward travels by seaplane to a remote Scottish island to investigate. But the islanders welcome neither his badge nor religious devotion, for laird of the isle Christopher Lee and his devoted followers worship only the pagan gods of old – and those gods demand a sacrifice. Woodward fears for the missing girl’s life and follows every possible lead to find her – despite the islanders’ interference – before she becomes a human sacrificial lamb.“
Starring Edward Woodward (Breaker Morant, TV’s “The Equalizer”), horror film legend Christopher Lee, stalwart Hammer vampiress Ingrid Pitt, and Swedish blonde bombshell/Bond Girl Britt Ekland (Man With The Golden Gun, After The Fox, Get Carter), Wicker Man is a quintessential 70s thriller, with the search for its integral version one of cinema history’s great detective hunts.
Butchered by its doomed UK distributor to fit on double bills, with its original camera negative apparently lost, The Wicker Man has gathered a devoted fan base over the past four decades, with the complete version their Holy Grail. Some missing scenes were recovered from an obsolete one-inch broadcast tape, but over the years there were rumors of complete 35mm prints floating around.
Earlier this year, the search intensified when worldwide rights holder Studiocanal initiated a Facebook campaign to recover the missing 35mm material, resulting in the discovery of a 92-minute 35mm release print at the Harvard Film Archive. This print was scanned and sent to London, where it was recently inspected by director Robin Hardy, who confirmed that it was the same cut he had put together for its American distributor in 1979. This culminated in a digital restoration of the complete U.S. theatrical version, which director Hardy recently anointed as “the final cut.”
Hardy, now 83, has said of this restored version, “It fulfills my vision.”