PictureAbsolutely terrible, by modern standards. Just about every conceivable picture artefact is here. Grain, diluted colours, obfuscated detail, meandering production standards - like I said everything. The director's cut is also plagued with even lower quality inserts that make up the extra fifteen minutes of footage. Even so, this is a 70's movie and if the quality of the picture isn't as good as we'd like, at least the quality is expected. I have said this before, but often the dirty old looking prints are what lends a movie it's character and so is marginally acceptable in this regard.
SoundAgain, time has been less than kind with The Wicker Man. The Wicker man in different to most horror movies in that sound is not used nearly as much to create an atmosphere. Instead, the absence of sound or the gentle well meaning vocals of the strange village folk is used against the unreal backdrop of the village. A scarcity of sound in situations like this can be very effective, but can also tire the viewer as he tries to maintain a focus on what is happening. Luckily those situations hardly ever crop up as some very well judged musical numbers, one memorable, and distinctly disturbing, one featuring a maypole are used to surreally move the story on. However, there is no getting away from the fact that The Wicker Man's soundtrack will not have DTS freaks or bass heads shouting from the rooftops.
I should also mention Britt Ekland's dialogue which is, well, not good.
ExtrasThe commentary on this disc is unusual in that it is moderated by the delightfully invigorating Mark Kermode. If you listen to Radio Five of a Friday 'noon you will hear his frothing diatribes spit forth with unusual physicality as the in house movie reviewer. You really owe it to yourself to track down his review of Attack of the Clones as one of the most visceral reviews ever. Anyway, I digress. Kermode has been chosen as moderator because he is a horror fan and as such asks all the right questions. I think he labours the point of the infamous lost Wicker Man footage, but gets his reward by stoking Lee into an alarmingly intense monologue. In fact this is one of the better commentaries and really does provide some depth to the movie. Woodward and director Hardy are also on fine form and are still in love with their masterful creation.
Lee's interview is again a breath of fresh air with the great man speaking, as is his want, with great authority. He speaks of his love of the role, that he played the part for free and how he wanted to break free of his Dracula heritage.
VerdictOne of the true inventors of the horror genre, The Wicker Man is as influential as Night of the Living Dead or Nosferatu. The subtleties of the story, truly immersive performances and that ending make this a truly remarkable movie.
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