It’s time to take a look at a true British horror classic; I’m talking The Wicker Man (1973) starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. There have been several versions of the film released over the years but it’s the “Final Cut” that I’m interested in today. This is supposed to be the definitive version, let’s take a closer look so without further ado here’s my The Wicker Man (1973): The Final Cut blu-ray Review.
- The Wicker Man (1973) The Final Cut
- Genre: Horror
- Directed by Robin Hardy
- UK Rating 15
- Discs: 3
- Released By Studiocanal
- Blu-ray Released: 14 October 2013
When a young girl is reported missing on a remote island off Scotland, Sgt. Neil Howie is sent from the mainland to investigate. He arrives by seaplane alone and begins his investigation. However the locals initially deny knowing the missing girl and seem unconcerned about her welfare. This leads the police sergeant to speak with Lord Summerisle the islands leader of sorts, again he is far from helpful. Clearly there is more going on and Sgt Howie is determined to expose any wrongdoing. But has the sergeant merely been misled or is there something far more sinister at work?
Style / Direction
The film was directed by Robin Hardy with the cinematography handled by Harry Waxman. Often referred to as “Britain’s Greatest Horror Film” The Wicker Man manages to create an incredibly sinister feel despite the fact the film is set in the height of summer. Actually it was filmed in the autumn but thanks to some clever camera work and scene dressing you aren’t aware of this fact.
It really is an exceptionally well made horror film and is completely different from anything else released at the time.
Music / Audio Effects
The music is provided by Paul Giovanni and is in no way your usual horror score. This is a more folk music for a summer festival. It does however make the horror even more disturbing and gives no real clues to the impending sacrifice.
Acting / Characters
Edward Woodward plays police Sgt. Neil Howie and it’s through his eyes the story is revealed. Woodward is perfectly cast and by the films conclusion he finds his faith tested to the extreme.
The films other main character is of course played by a Hammer horror legend, yes its Christopher Lee. He plays Lord Summerisle the leader of the small island and the man responsible for its fate. He really does play it rather well and it’s a role unlike you will have seen him in before.
All of the cast play their roles well making The Wicker Man an incredibly uncomfortable and disturbing film.
- Edward Woodward as Sgt. Neil Howie
- Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle
- Britt Ekland as Willow MacGregor
- Annie Ross as Willow MacGregor (voice)
- Rachel Verney as Willow MacGregor (singing voice)
- Diane Cilento as Miss Rose
- Ingrid Pitt as Librarian
- Lindsay Kemp as Alder MacGregor (the landlord)
- Russell Waters as Harbour Master
- Aubrey Morris as Old Gardener/Gravedigger
- Irene Sunter as May Morrison
- Donald Eccles as T.H. Lennox
- Walter Carr as School Master
- Roy Boyd as Broome
Conclusion: The Wicker Man: The Final Cut (1973) Film Review
In this version Sgt. Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) begins in church before setting off in a seaplane to investigate the disappearance of a young girl on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. The film takes place over two nights and is really how the film was intended.
UK Theatrical Cut
Essentially this version is the one everyone knows and loves but is also the one that had to be cut in order to find a release slot in cinemas. That means all the events take place over just one night.
The Director’s Cut
You might think that this is the definitive version however it merely adds all the available footage found back into the film making it last some 102 minutes. It does include more scenes with Christopher Lee and like the Final Cut restores the film to taking place over two nights. We also see Sgt Howie in the police station at the beginning of the film talking with colleagues. To be honest is slows the film down a little too much which is why it isn’t included in “The Final Cut” version.
Having just seen all three I would have to say “The Final Cut strikes the perfect balance and in my opinion at least should be considered the definitive version. Simply adding all available footage back in doesn’t make for the best pacing of the film which is why The Final Cut version was needed.
If you like my The Wicker Man: The Final Cut blu-ray review you may want to check out these films:
- Carnival of Souls (1962)
- It Follows (2014)
- Fear in the Night (1972)
- Night of the Living Dead (1968)
- To The Devil A Daughter (1976)
- The Devonsville Terror (1983)
Conclusion: The Wicker Man: The Final Cut Blu-ray Review
This release from Studiocanal offers three different versions of the film, The Final Cut, UK Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut. So that should at least keep everyone happy as you will have your favourite version on Blu-ray and can of course compare the three like I’m doing here in my film review.
What is the picture quality like? Well the Final Cut is excellent, I mean there are a couple of drops in quality but only from recently found footage and is more than acceptable in my opinion. I really don’t have any complaints; the image is sharp and free from any marks whilst the colours are vibrant. After all this may be an Island off the coast of Scotland but its set in the summertime….
Other than the three versions of The Wick Man Studiocanal have also put together a pretty extensive set of extras including interviews with cast and director whilst the Mark Kermode documentary I highly recommend watching.
- The Final Cut (93 mins
- Burnt Offering: The Cult of The Wicker Man Documentary Written by Mark Kermode (48 mins)
- Worshipping The Wicker Man (23 mins)
- The Music of The Wicker Man Featurette (15 mins)
- Robin Hardy Interview (16 mins)
- Interview with Christopher Lee & Robin Hardy (1979) (25 mins)
- Restoration Comparison (2 mins)
- UK Theatrical Cut ( mins)
- The Director’s Cut ( mins)
- Making of Audio Commentary Short Film ( mins)
On to my movie rating for The Wicker Man: The Final Cut (1973)
- Movie Rating: MUST SEE
- Blu-ray Picture: EXCELLENT
- Extras: EXCELLENT
Amazon UK Links
The Wicker Man: The Final Cut (1973) is available now on blu-ray.
For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…
Clip may not be representative of the blu-ray version
So that’s concludes my The Wicker Man blu-ray review, if you have any thoughts on this film you can leave them in the comment section below:
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Summary: The Wicker Man (1973) The Final Cut Blu-ray Review
Movie title: The Wicker Man (1973)
Duration: 93 mins
Director(s): Robin Hardy
Actor(s): Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Annie Ross, Rachel Verney, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Picture Rating
An incredibly disturbing British horror like no other.