Have you seen this footage?

Its name is The Wicker Man.

by Jennie Kermode

Sometimes, when everything seems idyllic, people don't notice that something is missing. This could be said of 1973 classic The Wicker Man, yet its creator, Robin Hardy, has spent 40 years lamenting the loss of 15 minutes of footage that made his original cut. Now it has emerged that it's still out there, he's asking film fans everywhere to help with the search.

"The wonderful thing about this film is that people still have so much love for it and keep talking about it," the ebullient Hardy told Eye For Film when launching 2010 sequel The Wicker Tree. Unfortunately, distributors British Lion didn't appreciate its value when it was new and lopped part of it off so that it could fit more easily into a double bill with Don't Look Now.

"I never thought that, after 40 years, they would still be finding lost fragments of my film. We thought all of The Wicker Man had gone up in flames, but fragments keep turning up and the hunt goes on!" says Hardy.

At the time, rumour had it that the missing material had become motorway landfill, but it was subsequently discovered that Roger Corman had a copy of the full original version. Unfortunately, he lost it. The search is on to recover his copy or locate others that might still be out there. Some of the missing scenes still exist on low-grade video but Hardy's dream is to restore his film to its full glory and screen it as he first intended to.

If you'd like to help with the search, you can find the Wicker Man Appeal on Facebook or drop us a line if you think you might have a lead. The sun hasn't gone down on this one yet.

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