StudioCanal has launched a worldwide appeal to retrieve original missing film materials for Robin Hardy’s 1973 cult horror classic “The Wicker Man.” They want to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary by restoring and release the most complete definitive version possible of the film, which was initially released on a double bill with “Don’t Look Now.” That release cut was significantly shorter than director Hardy’s original vision. The negatives disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios, and were allegedly used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 motorway, and have been deemed lost.
The appeal is to film collectors, historians, programmers and fans to come forward with any information relating to whereabouts of those original materials. “I never thought that, after forty years, they would still be finding lost fragments of my film,” says Hardy. “We thought all of ‘The Wicker Man’ had gone up in flames, but fragments keep turning up and the hunt goes on!”
Check out the Facebook page, created to serve as a forum for the ongoing search.
More details about the history of the various cuts of the film are below.
THE WICKER MAN: A SHORT HISTORY
In 1973, Robin Hardy’s debut film THE WICKER MAN fell victim to a boardroom takeover at distribution company British Lion, and had its release temporarily shelved. A finished version of the film that director Hardy was happy with had been delivered with a running time of 102 minutes.
When it did finally reach UK cinemas that year, with little fanfare or promotion, and as part of a Double Bill with DON’T LOOK NOW, 15 minutes had been cut, leaving the film’s running time a trim 88 minutes. Director Robin Hardy and the other filmmakers had not been involved and did not approve of this new version.
A few years later when Hardy tried to track down his original version, he was told that all the negative trims from it that had been stored at Shepperton Studios had been thrown away, and the only “original negative” was now the 88-minute version. He finally managed to ascertain that Cult US Director Roger Corman still had a print of the full-length version, and this was used for the US theatrical release. Corman’s print has been missing since the 1980’s and only poor quality 1″ video material is known to exist of this version.