‘The Wicker Man’ At Columbus

(7.28) Tickets are still available for tonight’s screening of the 1973 horror classic “The Wicker Man” starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, and Britt Eklund. This new digital restoration is being released to celebrate the 50th anniversary. A thumbnail of the plot goes as follows: “A puritan Police Sergeant arrives in a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl, who the Pagan locals claim never existed.”

It’s been years since I’ve seen this nutty head trip — and it’s not scary so much as disturbing — but a few of the scenes are still vivid in my mind. (Does Britt Eklund run around a room banging on walls?) However, I will probably never know which version of the film I was watching.

This piece written 10 years ago by superfan Bob Calhoun for RogerEbert.com, describes the various versions that ended up making the rounds during the VHS years.

There were three different edits of “The Wicker Man” floating around the home video market in the 1980s, but 102-minute version, the longest, was by far the most coveted, mostly because it was the only one where everything set up in the film’s prologue is tied up neatly in its conclusion, giving “The Wicker Man” a quirky kind of symmetry. The 102-minute cut was also the only one that really made any sense at all.

The studio releasing this restored version has it at 86 minutes, so something has been lost. But the original director is satisfied that the edited footage was not all that pivotal.

In his Salon.com review of the new print of “The Wicker Man,” Andrew O’Hehir paraphrases director Robin Hardy to assure us that most of the missing 10-minutes contain “irrelevant back-story scenes on the mainland” and “an extended conversation on the cultivation of apples.”

Also, your enjoyment of this movie does not depend on your making sense of it. Just let it wash over you.

$10, 7:30pm, Friday, July 28, Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, (directions)

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While I rather like this new poster, it in no way conveys the tone or mood of the film.

 

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