The Wicker Man: The Final Cut

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Read Jeff Robson's film review of The Wicker Man: The Final Cut

All too often, here at Eye For Film, we see anniversary box sets of classic films that have very little new material to offer and are padded out with minor actor interviews that look like they've been shot on a phone. This 40th anniversary edition of The Wicker Man couldn't be more different. Yes, there are occasional bits of weak material, the menus are a bit confusing and there are problems with the sound balance throughout, but overall it's an excellent collection of material that easily justifies its four discs.

First up, on disc number one, we get the 'final cut' (they always say that, don't they?) of the film itself. You can read about this in Jeff's review, so here I shall say only that its new content, though fairly scant, is intriguing, clears up a few oddities in the story and introduces new aspects of character that don't change one's perceptions dramatically but do round out some major players.

Copy picture

Also on this disc is Worshipping The Wicker Man - a famous fans featurette. This is the weakest of the supporting features so don't be put off the others if it bores you. Essentially it's a series of talking heads discussing their perceptions of the film, with little that is insightful or revelatory. Ben Wheatley is the most interesting, perhaps sufficiently left field in his own approach to filmmaking that he can grasp something the others are missing.

The second featurette, The Music Of The Wicker Man, also uses the talking head format but is much more substantial, going into some depth about how the soundtrack was designed, commissioned and orchestrated. It won't be of interest to everyone but will have strong appeal for those with an interest in the creative side of music.

Also on this disc is a relatively recent interview with Robin Hardy, who sparkles with enthusiasm as always. Hardy could probably be interesting reading a weather report, but here he delivers numerous engaging anecdotes about the development and shooting of the film that are both fascinating and fun.

The second disc presents us with the 87 minute theatrical cut first seen in UK cinemas, and with the Director's Cut, which restores some of the lost footage (including some not used in the Final Cut, presumably because it's low quality and doesn't add much to the story). The latter can be watched with audio commentary chaired by Mark Kermode and featuring Robin Hardy, Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. This is full of good stuff and fans should make it a priority. There's also a Making Of The Audio Commentary short film that seems to be just the same thing except we're looking at the speakers rather than the film, which doesn't add much but may appeal to their die-hard fans.

On the third disc, the Burnt Offering: The Cult Of The Wicker Man documentary by Mark Kermode provides context for the film, looks at the fan following it has inspired and explores its roots. This is much stronger than the average companion piece and intriguing to watch in its own right. it also includes interview snippets in which key players contradict things they've said elsewhere in this box set, which is oddly fitting given the many-layered mysteries and the mystique attached to the film.

Also on this disc is an interview with Christopher Lee and Robin Hardy from 1979. The visual quality of this, though forgiveable given that it's old TV footage, is simply appalling, and may hurt your eyes after the beautiful stuff that has gone before. Lee and Hardy, however, are fantastic, so it's worth putting up with.

Finally, there's disc four, which is simply dedicated to the soundtrack. "I think I've listened to The Wicker Man soundtrack more than any other in my life," says Eli Roth in an earlier segment, and he's not alone. The CD of this music is a best seller so it's a worth inclusion in the set.

Overall, this set is an excellent way to celebrate the new cut of the film and the outstanding work it represents.

Reviewed on: 26 Oct 2013
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The Wicker Man: The Final Cut packshot
A policeman gets more than he bargained for on a remote Scottish isle - now in a new, restored version with additional footage.

Product Code: B00E5BTF0Q

Region: 2

Extras: Documentaries, interviews, trailers, audio commentary, subtitles

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