Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Film: "The Wicker Man" (1973)

This was recently back in the cinema, celebrating 40 years since its original release. It is another of those films that everyone in the world has seen by now. Like The Manchurian Candidate, it is one of those films that it is easy to take for granted, but seeing it again brings home what a great piece of work it is. And as this was my first time seeing the film since I got the the soundtrack album, it was nice being able to delight the IFI audience with my joining in with all the songs.

It strikes me, oddly, that one great 20th century artist to whom this film owes a considerable debt is Franz Kafka. Like the protagonists of The Trial or, perhaps even more so, The Castle, Sgt Howie finds himself in a world where everyone else knows what is going on and no one is willing to help him. He is increasingly baffled by the opaque rules that surround him and his attempts to treat things as he would in a normal situation lead him deeper and deeper into the morass.

The version of the film being shown was supposedly based on some more complete print conveniently rediscovered just in time for the 40th anniversary re-release. Pre-publicity said that this would finally allow the film to be shown as originally intended or something. But it looked more or less identical to the long version of the film on the DVD I borrowed from Laser a few years ago. It has Howie in church on the mainland at the start and then he spends the full two nights on the island. Like the DVD release, you can see the film stock change where they switch to the scenes copied from an inferior print. And there were none of the extra episodes I have since read about (which is probably just as well as many of them sound completely superfluous). So does anyone know whether there is actually anything new in the version recently shown in the cinema?

See also:

website discussing various Wicker Man versions and extra scenes etc.

image source

An inuit panda production

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