The ongoing search for the original print of The Wicker Man is like a film saga in its own right. Since Studio Canal acquired the rights in 2001 they, along with director Robin Hardy have been searching for the missing footage with varying degrees of nothing to write home about. According to the director Alex Cox the original and only print was buried underneath the M4 motorway.
Rather than dig up the film that had been treated like a Mafia snitch, Studio Canal sought anything they could use. This resulted in a VHS and DVD release using found footage patched to the remaining theatrical release. Hardy and the French company were still not satisfied with ‘The Directors Cut’ version, so the hunt continued.
With a determined push to find a good quality print ready to coincide with the film’s 40th anniversary, they set up a Facebook page and asked fans to help. That seems to have paid dividends. The page posted a video today of Hardy announcing they have in fact found a complete print of his preferred cut. The Abraxas cut has never been screened in the UK or released on Blu-ray in this form. This will also be of great delight to the film’s star Christopher Lee who has longed to see the film restored. Though I think most of his exposition scenes will remain on the cutting room floor, or under orange cones on the M4.
With the mention of this cut being a theatrical anomaly to British fans one can only hope they intend to screen the film during the summer. Look out for the ‘Final Cut’ and check out you local cinemas for a treat many thought would never happen. You never know, with a bit of luck it may even wash away the memories of the Nicholas cage remake from your mind forever.