The Wicker Man – Settling the Score by Gary Carpenter

1 09 2015

Gary Carpenter left the Royal College of Music in 1972 and strangely [or so it seemed to him at the time] found himself engaged as Associate Musical Director on the film The Wicker Man. Allan Brown’s recent book: Inside The Wicker Man – The Morbid Ingenuities [Sidgwick and Jackson] stirs some memories:

Wicker Man posterThe writer of The Wicker Man, Anthony Shaffer [more like Chauffeur, from the number of lifts he used to give us] drove around the film’s Scottish locations in an impressive Citroën/Maserati. In Allan Brown’s evocative, entertaining and erudite book, the crew remembers this car as a Saab. My memories of working on this film are distinct: this was my first job after college, it was the only feature I worked on for many years; I was young and impressionable; I had a lot of responsibility for the music when I hardly knew which way was up, and in any case, whoever forgets their first experience of being screwed?

The first thing to sort out is that the core group of musicians who played the music also appeared in the film and are duly credited – although the percussionist’s playing was not thought to be quite up to scratch for the soundtrack and he was largely replaced in the recording studio by Michael Fry. They are all still around, although only Peter Brewis [recorders, jew’s harp, harmonica, bass guitar, etc.], Michael Cole [concertina, harmonica, bassoon] and I [piano, recorders, fife, ocarina, Nordic lyre, etc.] still operate full time within the profession. We three were also recently graduated students of the Royal College Of Music, not the Royal Academy as Mr Brown asserts. All the London colleges of music were approached, by the way, but at that time, only the RCM had a careers officer who could implement a request, and even then, that institution felt [correctly, as it turned out] that the commitment would be more than a full-time student could deal with, so as a recent composition student, I was approached, auditioned by Paul, and engaged [for the princely sum of £35.00 per week] and I recommended and booked everyone else. The other three, Andrew Tompkins [guitars], Ian Cutler [violin], Bernard Murray [percussion] did not come from formalised musical backgrounds but were members of a folk rock band I was in at the time called Hocket. The confusion over the title of the ‘band’ in the credits [Lodestone orMagnet] is actually simply explained. We all thought it would be nice to invent a performing name for ourselves in keeping with the spirit of the film and settled on Lodestone which is the title for the earlier cut. We then discovered that there was already a band of that name so went for the nearest equivalent, Magnet, which superceded it in all subsequent versions.

Read the rest of this article:



4 08 2015

There can be few, if any, film fans in the world who haven’t watched, at least once, a low-budget offering from Britain which popped up as a B-movie in 1973 – The Wicker Man. From these lowly beginnings, the film has steadily grown in reputation in the intervening years to become one of the principal cult movies of the last 40 years. Most aficionados are also aware that the film circulates in a number of different versions, but there is much confusion and misinformation about the exact differences between the various cuts. But first, let’s find out why more than one version exists in the first place…


Read the full article, which includes some amazing Wicker Man resources:

The Wrath of the Gods Crowdfunding Campaign

12 07 2015

Robin Hardy offers part in third Wicker Man film for $5,000

Director Robin Hardy is using crowdfunding site Indiegogo to fund a third Wicker Man film

30 06 2015

The 85-year-old director is using crowdfunding to assemble a budget for a threequel, offering roles as extras and an exec producer credit.

The film, which he hopes to start shooting in October, will revolve around an “international entertainment company” that builds a theme park based on Norse mythology. The two lead characters will be “brought together in an unlikely relationship because of their mutual love for steampunk”. Plus the expected supernatural element and an ending “as horrific in its way, as the burning of The Wicker Man”.

The film has already cast Halla Williams, an Icelandic model who also hosted her country’s version of The X Factor.

The allocation of funds will see 30% towards a theme park structure, 30% towards steampunk props and 40% towards a Viking ship.

The Wicker Man was a surprise sleeper hit in 1973, after it was deemed unworthy of an independent release and attached as a supporting feature to Don’t Look Now. It ultimately became arguably the most acclaimed British horror film of all time and star Christopher Lee referred to it as the best film he’d ever made. It was disastrously remade by Neil LaBute in 2006 and was nominated for five Razzie awards.

Wickstarter ... Christopher Lee in the original Wicker Man, which might be getting a crowdfunded sequel.
Wickstarter … Christopher Lee in the original Wicker Man, which might be getting a crowdfunded sequel. Photograph: Allstar/British Lion/Studiocanal

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut review

11 06 2015

Robin Hardy’s cult horror, starring the late Christopher Lee, still prompts shivers, says Tim Robey.

“Try everything once except incest and folk-dancing,” said the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Had he lived to see The Wicker Man, it would have backed him up on at least one of those counts. What a strange, singular film it still is: name another Scottish, island-set folk-horror musical with this kind of instant recognition value. Over the years, it’s become as cherished a cult favourite as Blade Runner, and equally subject to persistent tinkering, thanks to being shorn of various scenes for its original release, when it was put out as a B-feature after Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now.

Timed to coincide with its 40th anniversary, this so-called final cut claims to be the most complete version possible, but it isn’t the longest out there — some additional prologue scenes of Sgt Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) on the mainland were included on a Director’s Cut, but not here.

The materials for this hybrid version aren’t all consistently good, meaning a trade-off between the curiosity value of some rare sequences and the visual unevenness they bring along. No matter: the film’s driftier interludes, however raggedly psychedelic, remain crucial to its aura, one of hypnotically sinister good cheer.

Christopher Lee’s imaculately polite performance as the pagan ringleader Lord Summerisle, patiently explaining to Howie the very trap into which he’s being lured, holds up splendidly, as does Woodward’s prudish brand of Christian martyrdom. They’re essentially playing Dionysus, god of ritual madness, and Pentheus, stuffy voice of repression, in the only reimagining of Euripides’ Bacchae where you also get Britt Ekland jiggling around nude.

There are moments that still prompt shivers — the banally hideous sign of the Green Man pub, a missing photo of last year’s harvest festival on its wall — and the famous climax holds on to every shred of its unmatched, infernal power.

Christopher Lee died on June 9 2015, aged 93.

The Wicker Man film locations

11 05 2015

Yes, of course this is the 1973 original, not the recent, much-derided remake. Savagely cut down before release, and with some seriously shaky Scots accents, The Wicker Man has nevertheless achieved cult status since its initial release as B-feature with Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now.

Its success lies in the gameplaying of the clever plot and wicked script of Anthony Shaffer (who also penned Sleuth).


Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is the puritanically Christian cop sent to investigate the disappearance of schoolgirl Rowan Morrison on a remote and lustily pagan Scottish isle. There is a real Summerisle, but it’s way to the north of where this movie filmed. The near-tropical (warmed by the gulf stream) island estate of Lord Summerisle (so kindly thanked in the movie’s credits – and as bogus as Eve Channing in Sleuth) is an amalgam of around 25 separate locations, all of them on the Scottish mainland.

The production was based at Newton Stewart, on the River Cree, north of Wigtown Bay in southwest Scotland.

The opening aerial shots were filmed en route to the Isle of Skye, though the harbour, where Sergeant Howie’s seaplane touches down, is way to the north of the main locations, at Plockton, a small town off the A890, at the mouth of Loch Carron, about 55 miles west of Inverness, on the west coast of Ross and Cromarty.

About 20 miles southeast of Newton Stewart, at Kirkcudbright on the A711, you’ll find the High Street Gallery, High Street, which became May Morrison’s post office and sweetshop, where Howie begins his search for the elusive girl. The bakery is the Harbour Cottage Gallery, Castlebank, off Harbour Square, Kirkcudbright.

Howie stays at the ‘Green Man Inn’, which is a conflation of two locations: inside it’s the Ellangowan Hotel, St John Street, Creetown, on the A75 southeast of Newton Stewart; the exterior is Cally Estates office, Gatehouse of Fleet, still on the A75 a few miles to the east. The strangely fey landlord (and unlikely father of Britt Ekland) is legendary mime artist Lindsay Kemp, who taught movement to singers David Bowie and Kate Bush.

The maypole dance, schoolhouse and the old deconsecrated kirk, where Rowan is supposedly buried, are at the village of Anwoth, just west of Gatehouse of Fleet.

Culzean Castle, a fine Adam house, just off the A719, twelve miles southwest of Ayr, is the exterior of Lord Summerisle’s (Christopher Lee) mansion . It’s open to the public from the end of March to the end of October. The interior, though, is Lord Stair’s Castle, near Wigtown a few miles south of Newton Stewart. This was a tad too grand for the film – Lord Summerisle’s palatial drawing room is Lord Stair’s foyer.

The tour of Summerisle’s lush garden is in Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, 10 miles south of Stranraer.

Howie finally tracks the elusive Rowan to St Ninian’s Cave, near the southern tip of the Machars Peninsula, off the A747. The wicker man itself was built on the Peninsula, the area of land between Luce and Wigtown Bays, south of Newton Stewart.

“Come, it is time to keep your appointment with The Wicker man…”

6 04 2015

“Come, it is time to keep your appointment with The Wicker man…” A 4 year search by TRUNK ended in permission to issue this awesome lost recording – the unholy grail of soundtracks.

The original music and effects tapes were found and carefully copied, and the LP release is an identical copy of the sounds found on these tapes.

The first black vinyl LP became “the most collectable record of all time” according to some journalists, with dealers selling it for £120 shortly after its release.

Reviews for this odd recording were phenomenal, and Christopher Lee sang “Tinker of Rye” down the telephone to us in the Trunk office.

Original pieces of wood from The Wicker man were sent to us, maps, photos, stories and more just kept coming in. Also included was a USA copy of the movie with 20 extra minutes of footage.

People were annoyed that “Gently Jonny”, sung by Paul Giovanni in the longer versions of the film was missing. It still is, and somewhere out there a master tape may be waiting.

The Wicker Man is a truly cult movie. It has an incredible following, a bizarre, almost unexplained history, and was the last great unreleased soundtrack of a generation.

Paul Giovanni was a genius, and may he rest in peace. As for the band, “Magnet”who played all the music, nothing is really known of them. They were chosen by Paul Giovanni from the Royal Conservatory of music, but that’s all that is know. As for the voice behind “Willow’s Song” nothing is known about her, no record exists of who she was or where she came from.

To my knowledge, a book just about “The Wicker Man” and the various mysteries surrounding it will be published in 2000, and when we hear more information it will be posted on this site. Or it might be done and curiously disappear on the way to this site.

One final useless piece of information on “The Wicker Man”… there are currently two women in Scotland who claim to be Britt Ekland’s body double in the film. Madness.

Britt Ekland

A SHORT POST SCRIPT: It is now 2006 and I think it’s about time for a post script. The first and original issue of this recording – the Trunk Records issue – has become a most collectable and massively influential LP. Even though another longer, but far more confused recording was issued featuring demos and different versions of some of the songs, a majority of the new later recording was taken from the original Wicker Man recordings we mastered from the music and effects tapes at Pinewood. Yes, I know it’s confusing. Anyway, the fact remains that had we not issued our recording it’s unlikely any further recordings would have come out. Also at the time bugger all people referenced The Wicker Man as an influence, and had you run a top 100 British films it would not have even featured. Now it’s constantly referenced and always hits top tens in British film making. It’s just a real shame that the creative musical pioneer Paul Giovanni was not around to benefit in any way.

Our recording was issued in 1997. Ten years later people some people are still a little jealous that we did it first and are more than happy to accuse us of bootlegging. We had the permission of the company who owned the film and paid all the relevant publishing we were asked to pay. What always gets forgotten is that when we had finished our run of albums, another company began bootlegging our CD. We never found out who they were. You will know one of these bootlegs if you find one, they are weird photocopied CDs with no 8 page booklets.

If you happen to be after a legendary Trunk Wicker Man vinyl album complete with hilarious spelling mistakes I suggest you look on ebay where they turn up occasionally.

Halloween Wicker Screening at the Cinematheque, Vancouver

9 09 2014

The Wicker Man

Great Britain 1973. Dir: Robin Hardy. 94 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION! DIRECTOR-APPROVED “FINAL CUT”! ► A devoutly Christian policeman from the mainland investigates the disappearance of a child on a remote Scottish island. Christopher Lee presides over a pagan sex cult. Britt Ekland shakes — and slaps! — her booty in lascivious fashion. The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy’s legendary 1973 cult film, has been newly restored in a director-approved “final cut” version. The film was specifically written for Lee by Anthony Shaffer, who also penned Sleuth (both stage and screen versions) and Hitchcock’s Frenzy. Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake, with Nicolas Cage, can’t hold a Burning Man to Hardy’s unhinged original. Britt’s butt, she later revealed, was actually a body double’s! “Troubling, brilliant, and unmissable … Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England [and Kill List] reawakened interest in ‘folk horror’; here is the superb precedent” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian). Read the rest of this entry »

Berkeley hosts The Wicker Man: The Final Cut

1 08 2014

The Wicker Man Robin Hardy (U.K., 1973)

Film – Feature | August 31 | 7:30 p.m. |  PFA Theater

Sponsor: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Restored “Final Cut”!

“The Citizen Kane of horror movies”—Cinefantastique Magazine

Before Burning Man, there was The Wicker Man, that burning sensation. A Christian believer, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), travels to the rustic island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl the islanders deny exists. The sarge is alarmed to find the inhabitants possessed of a paganism that has the cultists raising the maypole and fornicating in the fields. Playwright Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth, Frenzy) penned this heathen husk of folk horror specifically for Christopher Lee, who plays the priestly Lord Summerisle. This flammable flick finds its fright in the slow revelation that you are either kin or kindling.

—Steve Seid

Written by Anthony Shaffer. Photographed by Harry Waxman. With Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland. (94 mins, DCP, Color, From Rialto Pictures)

Tickets: $5.50 BAM/PFA Member; Cal Student,  $6.50 Cal Faculty and Staff; Disabled Patron; Non Cal Student; Senior Patron ( 65 & Older); General Admission Youth (17 & under),  $9.50 General admission

Event Contact: 510-642-080

The Wicker Man Blu-ray Review

14 07 2014
Review by Gary Tooze

The Film:

A righteous police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl comes into conflict with the unusual residents of a secluded Scottish isle in this unsettling, intelligent chiller. Brought to the island of Summerisle by an anonymous letter, Edward Woodward’s constable is surprised to discover that the island’s population suspiciously denies the missing girl’s very existence. Even more shocking, at least to the traditionally pious law office, the island is ruled by a libertarian society organized around pagan rituals. Repelled by the open acceptance of sexuality, nature worship, and even witchcraft, the officer takes an antagonistic attitude towards the people and their leader, an eccentric but charming English lord (Christopher Lee). The officer’s unease intensifies as he continues his investigation, slowly coming to fear that the girl’s disappearance may be linked in a particularly horrifying manner to an upcoming public festival. Anthony Shaffer’s meticulously crafted screenplay creates a thoroughly convincing alternative society, building tension through slow discovery and indirect suggestion and making the terrifying climax all the more effective. Performances are also perfectly tuned, with Woodward suitably priggish as the investigator and horror icon Lee delivering one of his most accomplished performances as Lord Summerisle. Little noticed during its original theatrical run due to studio edits and a limited release, the film’s intelligence and uncanny tone has since attracted a devoted cult following. Read the rest of this entry »

The Music of Folk Horror – Part 5 (The Wicker Man’s Diegesis) by Adam Scovell

30 06 2014

Part 1Part 2Part 3. Part 4.

Diegesis in The Wicker Man.

Some of the music assessed in the last section raised further questions besides their thematic and narrative content.  Though this element was an important part of the analysis, another aspect almost appeared to be ignored; that of the diegesis of such performances.  For a horror film, The Wicker Man presents the viewer with new diegetic possibilities, using techniques so far removed from the hyper-realism of horror that it’s surprising the film works with their inclusion.  However, the analysis of the diegesis will show that that this is just more subtle acknowledgment of the Folk Horror Chain.

As stated, Giovanni’s score had already, quite deliberately, blurred lines between the roles of diegetic and nondiegetic.  In the scenes about to be discussed, Giovanni himself is seen playing the instruments and singing one of the songs, further raising questions around the strange sound relationships.  Fitzgerald and Haywood suggest that this aesthetic ambiguity was more to do with presenting the crumbling psychological state of the main character arguing “Through the careful privileged orchestration of event and sound around the protagonist, this and subsequent scenes represent Howie as entrapped in a world where reality and illusion blur, stretching sanity.” (p.107, 2009).  This is a somewhat convenient reading which avoids the overall complexities of the score.  While some moments in the songs composed for the film do, or at least can, act as nondiegetc scoring, others are far more complex in their relationship with the narrative reality and the viewer’s reception.  Let us return to the example of Willow’s Songwhich is by far the most obvious and interesting moment where this aural ambiguity occurs.

As Willow’s aim is to try and seduce Howie, she sleeps in the room next to his.  He is staying in the island’s pub run by Willow’s father (hence the rather strange but logically sound interlude of the song, The Landlord’s Daughter) and is trying to get to sleep after the shock of his initial findings on the island.  The song opens with a simple acoustic guitar melody and some form of percussive hit before any of the vocals enter[i].  As the rooms are above the pub where the majority of the islanders go at night, some are sat with musical instruments as predetermined by the earlier performance of The Landlord’s Daughter. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wicker Man to screen at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

1 05 2014

The Wicker Man 
 Great Britain. Robin Hardy. 88 min.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 1:30 p.m.

Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2

  • 1973. Great Britain. Directed by Robin Hardy. With Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland. In Robin Hardy’s horror classic, a police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island town in search of a missing girl. The pagan rites performed on the island have the sergeant concerned—and rightly so. 88 min.

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019-5497
(212) 708-9400 | Contact Us


The Wicker Man, de Robin Hardy (1973)

14 04 2014


Au début des années 1970, le grand Christopher Lee commence à se lasser de jouer dans des productions Hammer qui sentent légèrement le réchauffé, surtout dans les nombreuses déclinaisons de Dracula, rôle qui l’a rendu mondialement célèbre et fait encore de lui une icône du cinéma fantastique. C’est alors qu’on lui propose un film atypique, prenant pour thème la survivance de rites païens sur une île écossaise nommée Summerisle.

Film atypique du cinéma de genre de l’époque pour plusieurs raisons. La plus évidente, celle qui se remarque au premier coup d’œil, c’est le refus de tourner les scènes la nuit, pourtant une des caractéristiques du cinéma d’épouvante classique – à plus forte raison britannique. Cela pouvait certes diminuer l’ambiance pesante et l’impression de danger imminent, mais au contraire il en résulte un respect des codes du genre à mesure que le récit avance. Dès son arrivée sur l’île pour enquêter sur la disparition d”un jeune fille, le sergent Neil Howie se rend compte du caractère très communautariste des habitants. A chaque nouvel habitant interrogé, les secrets de Summerisle refont surface et il en apprend un peu plus sur les étranges coutumes du coin. Comme il est assez courant dans la production des années 1970, le cinéma d’horreur se mêle ici à des ingrédients du polar, de la petite enquête de police qui débute au départ comme un exercice de routine. Comme le disait dans un entretien le réalisateur Robin Hardy, l’objectif était de faire “un film d’anti-horreur”, et l’essentiel du film étant tourné en plein jour renforce ce parti-pris. On peut remarquer que quelques années plus tard du côté de l’Espagne, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador tourne lui aussi un pur film d’horreur sous un soleil méditerranéen et également sur une île ( ¿Quién puede matar a un niño?/Les Révoltés de l’An 2000, 1976). Sans doute faut-il y voir la volonté de renouveler un cycle du cinéma fantastique qui cherche un nouveau souffle. Read the rest of this entry »

Robin Hardy to appear at BOZAR film screening in Brussels

1 03 2014


En présence de Robin Hardy

Robin Hardy réalisateur
avec Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento
Nous avons l’immense honneur, privilège et plaisir de présenter la projection director’s cut du cultissime The Wicker Man de Robin Hardy. Peu de films ont réussi à atteindre l’aura particulière que dégage le film original. Et ce n’est certes pas le remake de 2006 avec Nicolas Cage qui pourra nous convaincre du contraire. Le film retrace l’enquête d’un détective confronté aux coutumes tribales des autochtones hallucinés et exaltés d’une île écossaise. Sous-estimé lors de sa sortie en salle, monté sans tenir compte du point de vue de Hardy et distribué comme une série B sans intérêt, le film était voué à une mort prématurée. Ce n’est que fin des années 1970 qu’une version longue fut projetée et appréciée à sa juste valeur, parfois saluée comme le Citizen Kane du film d’horreur sans pour autant être le film que Hardy désirait ardemment montrer. Quarante ans plus tard, il peut désormais nous présenter en personne sa propre version!
Ravensteinstraat 23 | Rue Ravenstein 23
Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 507 82 00
Dimanche 16.03.2014 – 20:00 > 22:00
Prix à la caisse 
€ 8,00: tarif standard
€ 6,00: tarif réduit

VO: Anglais


Robin Hardy talks The Wicker Man with Colin McCracken

9 01 2014


A Lucid Restoration: Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man

9 12 2013

Thanks in part to a gorgeous digital restoration, Robin Hardy’s darkly comic The Wicker Man, currently screening in a “final cut” in select theaters on both coasts, feels like a lucid dream. The 1973 film is tinged with lasciviousness and pervaded by jangly folk music, and its tone fluctuates madly, veering from the hysterical to the horrifying, from the fermata of promiscuous harmonies to the howls of a man wreathed in flames. Trying to get a grasp on the film’s sense of normality, of realism, is like trying to squeeze a flopping fish. The dichotomy of modernity and tradition transects the film; restored to the original look of glorious 35mm, it feels perversely modern and timeless. Like a passage from the Bible, or a 14th-century oil painting, The Wicker Man is at once epochal, rooted in a specific time (the wake of the summer of love) and place (a Scottish island village), and somehow transcendent of reality. You slowly sink into its bizarre charm, and by the time its sinister epiphanies begin to proliferate, you’re too deep to get out.


Edward Woodward is Sergeant Neil Howie, an uptight Christian who’s intolerant and ignorant while preaching morals—”a privileged fool,” you could say. After receiving a letter that claims a young girl, Rowan Morrison, has disappeared on the remote Hebridean island of Summerisle, he takes off in a sea plane, by himself, set on finding her. When Howie arrives, he wastes no time in flashing his credentials, telling everyone he’s there on police business and threatening to lock up anyone and everyone who may interfere with his investigation. His first interaction with the locals sets the tone for his brief stay: He passes a photo of Rowan to a group of fisherman who don’t lack for plaid or facial hair, and the camera slowly strolls along the line as the picture is passed from calloused hand to calloused hand. No one has ever heard of the girl, and Howie, they say, should mind his own business. Read the rest of this entry »

Discussing The Wicker Man: Final Cut with Director Robin Hardy

9 11 2013

Update: While The Wicker Man: Final Cut tours the U.S. from Bellingham to Brookline (see link below), L.A. audiences are fortunate, as it’s just been announced that this Friday night, the first of November, legendary actress Britt Ekland — “The Landlord’s Daughter” herself! — will introduce the 7:30 screening at Landmark’s fabulous Nuart Theatre, plus she’s staying for a Q&A. If you miss this, you’re crazy.


Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man: Final Cut

We now return you to the original opening paragraph.

I get excited about movies, but rarely does a film astound me. Sinisterly exuberant, elegantly subversive, ravishingly eerie, hilariously chilling — I just can’t throw enough positive adjectival phrases at The Wicker Man: the 1973 masterpiece penned by Anthony Shaffer and magnificently directed by Robin Hardy. At the fore stands the world’s greatest actor Christopher Lee, in one of his career peaks (“the best-scripted film I ever took part in,” Mr. Lee says of The Wicker Man, in the 1999 edition of his autobiography); plus it features remarkable turns from Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp (who taught David Bowie and Kate Bush to dance), and the alluring Britt Ekland (whose dance herein could alter your worldview). Add the brilliant songs of Paul Giovanni and generous dollops of folkloric savvy, et voilà: perfection.

The trick is the treat.

The plot? I’m not telling. A cop searches for a missing child. Do not read synopses, don’t ask anyone about it, just see it. If for the first time, I envy you.

Truly, lucky you. In its unique blend of mystery, thriller, drama, comedy, social satire, and yes, even musical, this film practically reinvents the art form of cinema. Following years of butchered prints, short cuts, slightly-improved cuts, and missing shots, you get to experience The Wicker Man: Final Cut, director Hardy’s approved DCP restoration of his definitive version. This edit has been out of circulation since 1979, and recently scanned from a 35mm U.S. print discovered in the Harvard Film Archive. After being unceremoniously slashed in 1973 to fit on a double bill with Don’t Look Now, The Wicker Man: Final Cut celebrates its 40th anniversary in style. I spoke with Mr. Hardy, and asked him about the film’s origins.

“Tony Shaffer and I had been partners in the film company we owned for 13 years,” he relates. “We had facilities in Paris, Frankfurt, Milan and New York — headquartered in London. And we made dramas for television, and lots of very high-priced commercials all over the world.

“During that time, Tony and I, in our association, were very much — how can I saw, smitten, perhaps, is the right word — with a passion for games play. And this is a key that really very few people have understood about The Wicker Man — and maybe because they’ve never seen Tony’s play Sleuth: which preceded it, on the stage in London, and in New York.

“The games playing was part of our daily lives for those years. Every now and then he would play an enormous practical joke on me, and I would have to think of one to play back. This was all very good-humored, and sometimes I was furious at what he had done, and he was furious at what I’d done — but it kept us amused through all those years, and then the time came for us to start leaving the whole commercial/television scene, and move to features — and plays: he of course was very much influenced by the fact that by that time his twin brother was one of the most famous playwrights around (Peter Shaffer: Equus; Amadeus).”


Wicker Men: Producer Peter Snell, screenwriter Anthony Shaffer, director Robin Hardy
(from the autobiography of Christopher Lee)

Read the rest of this entry »

Robin Hardy Interview with HeyUGuys

22 10 2013

Georgia Fleury Reynolds from HeyUGuys interviews legendary Director Robin Hardy on his movie The Wicker Man.

Robin Hardy brings The Wicker Man to Forbidden Planet!

30 09 2013

Monday, 14th October, 2013 17:00 – 18:00

London Megastore,

179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR

On Monday 14th October, from 6 – 7pm, at our London Megastore, Forbidden Planet are delighted to welcome director Robin Hardy, signing the 40th anniversary edition of The Wicker Man.

When a young girl mysteriously disappears on a remote Scottish island, devout Christian Police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) travels there to investigate. He finds a close-knit and secretive pastoral community living on an island paradise, ruled over by mysterious Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), with beliefs very much at odds with his puritanism. He begins to fear that the fate of the girl could be linked to the islanders’ failing crops and their belief that only a sacrifice of the highest order will change their luck. As May Day festivities intensify and the islanders’ behaviour becomes more frenzied, Howie’s quest to save the girl becomes a race against time…

With a host of bonus features, this 40th anniversary double play edition is presented as The Final Cut. Approved by director Robin Hardy, The Final Cut is the finest and most complete version of The Wicker Man ever created.


Robin Hardy to complete The Wicker Man trilogy

31 08 2013

Wicker Man director Robin Hardy has revealed that he is moving ahead with new feature Wrath Of The Gods, which will complete a trilogy of ‘Wicker’ films.

He spoke to ScreenDaily ahead of a 40th anniversary re-release of The Wicker Man, which has been digitally restored and has been labelled ‘The Final Cut’.

“I am just at the opening stages of financing it (Wrath Of The Gods) and hope to make it next year,” said Hardy, who will also produce.

The writer-director added: “The first two films are all (about) offers to the Gods. The third film is about the Gods. I use the vehicle of the final act of Götterdämmerung (the last of Wagner’s Ring cycle).”

The new project, which is slated to shoot in the Shetlands, won’t be “heavily Wagner-esque” but is expected to explore similar themes to the previous two films.

The Final Cut

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut is released in UK cinemas by StudioCanal in a 2K restoration on Sept 27.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 film about a policeman (Edward Woodward) sent to a remote island village in search of a missing girl, whom the townsfolk claim never existed. It also stars Christopher Lee.

The Wicker Man was originally released with minimal promotion as the second feature in a double bill with Don’t Look Now.

The version exhibited to audiences was significantly shorter (88mins) than Hardy’s original vision (102mins).

The negatives disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios and were allegedly used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 motorway.

Worldwide search

Ahead of the anniversary, StudioCanal spent the past year conducting an extensive worldwide search for film materials of The Wicker Man, including a public appeal to fans for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing original cut.

Eventually a 35mm release print was found at Harvard Film Archives and measured to be around 92 minutes long. This print was scanned in 4k and sent to London, where it was inspected by Hardy who confirmed that it was the cut he had put together with Abraxas in 1979 for the US release.

This has previously been known as the “Middle Version” and was in turn assembled from a 35mm print of the original edit he had made in the UK in 1973, but which was never released.

“As far as I am concerned, I am completely satisfied with it,” said Hardy of the the Final Cut and expressed his delight at “finally seeing” his film in a state close to what he intended to be released in British cinemas.

A sequel, The Wicker Tree, was released in 2011.

By Geoffrey Macnab


Robin Hardy announces results of The Wicker Man appeal – original print found

31 07 2013

Studiocanal find print of The Wicker Man based on Hardy’s original cut and plans to release ‘The Wicker Man – The Final Cut’

Following a public search for the original film materials relating to Robin Hardy’s horror classic The Wicker Man, Studiocanal UK and director Robin Hardy have made an announcement about what has been found via the hunt’s Facebook page. The announcement includes news that an original print of the film has been found.

Since its creation, the Facebook page has attracted comments from fans far and wide, and thrown up rare and fascinating stories from the film’s history, as well as all-important clues as to where the elusive materials might be stashed…

“Over the years, the fate of The Wicker Man has been the subject of much discussion amongst the fans,” says Studiocanal’s General Manager UK Home Entertainment John Rodden, “We set up the Facebook page not only to act as a hub for information in the search, but also in order to give fans the chance to discuss their love for The Wicker man, and to expound on some of the wilder myths and legends surrounding the film. The response has been amazing, and we’re so grateful to all the people who have taken the time to join the conversation. We hope they will be pleased with what we’ve found.”

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the The Wicker Man’s original release. In celebration of this and as part of their continuing project to both preserve and showcase classic British cinema, Studiocanal intends to restore and release the most complete version of the film possible.

Laurence Boyce

The director of 1973 horror film The Wicker Man has praised the work of Robert Burns and actor Edward Woodward’s Gaelic singing.

31 05 2013

Robin Hardy has written exclusively for Empire magazine about the feature, which has scenes shot in Galloway, Plockton and Ayrshire.

He said Burns’s Gently Johnny was the “perfect love song” for the film.

Hardy has also written about Woodward singing Gaelic songs for the cast and crew in evenings after shoots.

Writing in Empire, the director said the quality of Gently Johnny had been restored for the newly-released Blu-ray DVD version of The Wicker Man.

Hardy said: “We chose Celtic melodies where we could.

“Robbie Burns provided us with that perfect love song, Gently Johnny, which Paul Giovanni, our composer, himself sang, and Corn Rigs is the melody that takes us on our flight past the peaks of Skye to the palm-fringed coast of Summerisle.”

Croydon-born Woodward, who died in 2009, played police sergeant Howie, sent to search for a missing girl on the fictional island of Summerisle.

The Wicker Man was remade for a 2006 film starring Nicolas Cage.


Croydon-born Woodward sang in Gaelic in evenings after filming

In his article, Hardy said: “Edward Woodward, singing for us in Gaelic in the evenings, enchanting us with that beautiful mouth music – more than a mere film star, a superb actor.

“How seriously unwise for any other artist, even the talented Nicolas Cage, to try to give an encore as Sergeant Howie in the remake.”

Scenes for the 1973 feature were shot in Plockton in the Highlands, Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast, Logan Gardens in the Rhins of Galloway and Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway.

Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland starred in the film alongside Woodward.

Hardy’s latest film, The Wicker Tree, has scenes which were shot in Dalkeith in Midlothian.

Released in 2010, its cast includes Brittania Nicol and Honeysuckle Weeks.

Glasgow-born Graham McTavish, who will appear in The Hobbit, also appears in The Wicker Tree.

STUDIOCANAL, with the endorsement of director Robin Hardy, have launched a world-wide public appeal to locate original film materials

13 05 2013


STUDIOCANAL, with the endorsement of director Robin Hardy, have launched a world-wide public appeal to locate original film materials relating to legendary horror classic THE WICKER MAN, originally released in 1973, in celebration of the cult film’s 40th anniversary.

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the THE WICKER MAN’S original release. In celebration of this and continuing its project to conserve, restore and release for future generations the best of Classic British cinema, STUDIOCANAL today announces its intention to release the most complete version of the film possible. The now widely lauded film was released with minimal promotion in 1973 as second feature of a double bill with Don’t Look Now. The version exhibited to audiences was significantly shorter than director Robin Hardy’s original vision. In what has now become an apocryphal episode in British film history, the negatives disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios, were then allegedly used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 motorway, and are considered lost forever.

STUDIOCANAL are now appealing worldwide to film collectors, historians, programmers and all-round fans to support the campaign and come forward with any information relating to the potential whereabouts of original materials.

Director Robin Hardy comments: “I never thought that, after forty 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!”

STUDIOCANAL General Manager UK Home Entertainment John Rodden adds: “The Wicker Man is not only a great horror film; it is a true classic that grows in stature as the years pass. We’re now appealing to the public to help us create the most definitive version possible.”

A special Facebook page has been created to serve as a forum for the search to continue. For further updates and to join the conversation with any news please visit:

More details about the history of the various cuts of the film are below.


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.


The Wicker Man: Conversations with Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer & Edward Woodward [Kindle Edition]

9 04 2013



The creators and star of The Wicker Man talk candidly about the ideas behind the 1973 film, its production, and how it survived attempts to bury it and became one of the greatest cult British films of all time. Includes an appreciation by Eli Roth.


Wicker Man villagers fight to save their only church from developers

13 03 2013

Plockton Church

In the 1973 horror film The Wicker Man, Edward Woodward, as devout Christian policeman Sergeant Howie, walks along the palm-fringed front of a remote Highlands village as he tries to discover the fate of a missing girl.

Woodward’s character in the cult film, which co-starred Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland, is disturbed to learn the locals are pagan – and are plotting a shocking fate for him.

Some 40 years after Robin Hardy’s movie explored a clash between Christianity and paganism, the residents of Plockton, where some scenes were shot, are engaged in a real life religious struggle.

The congregation of Plockton Church is furious at plans by the Church of Scotland (CoS) to sell the last place of worship in a village that was once home to four churches and where open-air communions have been held for centuries to mark important Christian occasions.

Worshippers say there will be no place for christenings, weddings and funerals and elderly people will be unable to travel to other remote churches in the far north-west of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

Robin Hardy Q&A at University of Hertfordshire screening of The Wicker Man

28 02 2013

Robin Hardy in conversation with Dr. Steven Peacock of University of Hertfordshire, after a screening to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hardy’s seminal film, The Wicker Man (Thursday 21st February 2013).

With thanks to Dr. Steven Peacock,


Up Helly Aa – Europe’s largest fire festival in Lerwick, Scotland 2013

2 12 2012


Europe’s largest fire festival

 Up Helly Aa takes place in Lerwick, Shetland, on the last Tuesday in January every year. Up Helly Aa day involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. This is followed by hours of performing acts and dancing in halls throughout Lerwick.

The following Wednesday is a public holiday in Lerwick to allow for recovery.


Up Helly Aa is a community event, with countless volunteers contributing many hours each winter towards organising and planning the following year’s festival.

The Guizer Jarl and his squad begin their preparations in February, and many long hours of hard work go into the design and production of their fabulous outfits.

Up Helly Ha2

The Up Helly Aa Committee begin their year preparing the Up Helly Aa Exhibition that runs from May until September in the Galley Shed. This boasts a full size Galley, Jarl Squad suits, other Squads memorabilia and an extensive collection of photographs recording the suits worn and the guizers involved.

In early September the Guizers of the remaining 45 squads begin their squad meetings and preparations. This involves determining the character(s) that they wish to portray with their suits, making the suits while also creating and practising their act to perform in the halls they visit through out the evening.


At the end of September the Galley shed is transformed back into to a working shed where the Galley and the torches are constructed during the winter. During this same period the Committee progress preparations including the Collecting Sheet and Bill.

Up Helly Aa Seal

We hope you enjoy the site and the information it provides.

Up Helly Aa Committee

For More information on this event:

Cooke’s Cinema to screen The Wicker Man in Barrow-in-Furness

19 11 2012


Robin Hardy’s, The Wicker Man – Thursday 6th December 2012, 7.45 pm

Welcome to the first programme of film screenings to be held in the newly refurbished Cooke’s Studios in Barrow. The films range from quality classic to new, critically acclaimed independent films. Selected screenings will be followed by informal talks by guest speakers after the screening for those who want to delve deeper into the filmmaking process – we’re delighted that this includes a special guest appearance at the screening of The Wicker Man by the film’s director, Robin Hardy!

All films start at 7:45pm and are £2 on the door and include a free drink and popcorn.

For more details and to book tickets:’s-on/cooke’s-cinema/

Robin Hardy Video Interview at Rook Lane Arts Film Night

15 10 2012



Robin Hardy interviewed by The Wicker Tree actor, David Plimmer (Jack) at the Rook Lane Arts Film Night on 5th October 2012. talks to Robin Hardy about The Wicker Trilogy

1 10 2012

Robin Hardy on set for THE WICKER TREE

Robin Hardy’s name will be forever be connected to the 1973 film The Wicker Man. It has become such a worldwide recognized classic the Hardy is often asked to preside at major pop festivals dedicated to The Wicker Man in Scotland and the USA.

For many years Robin Hardy work in the theater, TV commercials, films, and a novelist. Among his literary endeavors are the novels The Wicker Man he co-authored with Anthony Shaffer and Cowboys for Christ, which is the basis for his new film The Wicker Tree.

Filmmaker Robin Hardy returns to the themes he first explored in his classic cult thriller The Wicker Man more than thirty-five years ago – telling the eerie tale of a hedonistic Scots community which makes a human sacrifice – The Wicker Tree inhabits the same territory as The Wicker Man. Intertwined themes of power and sex, of Christian and pagan religion, of bawdy comedy and romantic love, build insistently to a climax of unimaginable horror, all originate from the terrifying imagination of Robin Hardy, director of the cult classic The Wicker Man.

Robin Hardy graciously granted us an audience to discuss his The Wicker Tree, as well as the industry and business of filmmaking.

FEARS: You’ve said that this story, which is based on your novel Cowboys for Christ, is a story that inhabits the same “territory “of the 1973 film The Wicker Man. What is that universe?alt

ROBIN HARDY: With the fall of Rome, a society where women had considerable license to please themselves and the Gods were a cast of characters all armed with thoroughly human foibles, it is possible to imagine a society where fun sex and music and jokes were the norms of daily life. Christianity comes along and you have centuries of monastic existence where Eloise and Abelard are the great romance of their time. And we Brits had to be entertained by a monk called The Venerable Bede. Still, even then, Camelot came along to replace Caligula’s Rome.

In – let us call them the Wicker films -we have tried to create a pagan atmosphere with which to contrast Christian values ( terrible word !). BUT of course paganisms were propitiating religions capable of obscene cruelty if they thought that was what was what the Gods wanted. Christianity, with it’s obsession with witchcraft, it’s inquisitions also thought it knew what the monotheistic God wanted.

And his desires weren’t any prettier. This is the territory we aim to inhabit. But over all we are in the 20th/21st centuries with their pre occupations too. Above all Tony Shaffer and I aimed to entertain. I still do.

FEARS: What do you feel is the core element of The Wicker Man that still resonates with audiences and lead you to novelize the film, with co-writer Anthony Shaffer, and in 2006 inspired you to write the novel Cowboys for Christ?

ROBIN HARDY: Conflict. That most useful of elements in all drama. What makes the amazing Republican circus in South Carolina a world hit on TV.

Conflict – not only between a troupe of extraordinarily over-the-top characters – but also there is a battle of ideas there. Astonishing stuff where the flip side of ” In God We Trust ” is ” I am not my Brother’s keeper “. Paganism and Christianity have so much in common, not only the days of the week and the months of the year – but Christmas and Easter to an amazing degree. Beltane is more fun than Easter but Christmas can outdo those Druids with their obsession with mistletoe. These conflicts turn up at every bend in the road in these films and are at their core.

FEARS: You have to boil a novel down to its cinematic essentials to adapt so I was wondering how the novel Cowboys for Christ differs from The Wicker Tree?

ROBIN HARDY: The policeman is a much more important character in the book. His career is that of a bit of a Sammy Glick but his defeat comes at the hands of a woman who is smarter than he.

It makes sense in the film to hand the policeman/ Lolly scenes almost totally to Lolly. As the female lead in a successful British TV series Honeysuckle is a sympathetic “goody two shoes”. I cast her because I thought she would enjoy the counter casting and she obviously does.

Also she is a wonderful horsewoman enhancing the hunt scenes as few other actresses could. These are all elements in the film that can only be hinted at in the book.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rook Lane Arts host a Wicker Double Bill

19 09 2012


Friday 5th October 2012

Robin Hardy Talk – The Wicker Man and The Wicker Tree

Doors at 7:30pm

Robin Hardy, the director of the cult 1970s film “The Wicker Man” pays a visit to Rook Lane to discuss his work and the making of the iconic horror film which inspired generations of film-makers and artists with its surreal intersection of ritual and religion. This will be followed by a screening of Robin’s latest release, and sequel to the 1970s classic, “The Wicker Tree”.

Admission – £6 tickets available from Rook Lane Arts Trust.

01373 468040

01373 468031

Picturehouse Cinemas host four screenings of Robin Hardy’s, The Wicker Tree

31 08 2012


Picturehouse Cinemas host four screenings of Robin Hardy’s, The Wicker Tree in October 2012, along with a personal appearance by writer/director Robin Hardy for Q&A sessions before the film.

19th October 2012, 8 pm

Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton

Ocean Village, Southampton. Tel: 0871 902 5733

22nd October 2012, 8.30 pm

Little Theatre Cinema, Bath

Bath Street, Bath. Tel: 0871 902 5735

24th October 2012, 8.30 pm

Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford

57 Walton Street, Oxford. Tel: 0871 902 5736

25th October 2012, 8.30 pm

Cinema City, Norwich

St Andrews Street, Norwich. Tel: 0871 902 5724

National Theatre of Scotland presents ‘Appointment with The Wicker Man’

18 07 2012


Appointment with The Wicker Man


Written by Greg Hemphill and Donald McLeary and directed by Vicky Featherstone

Based on the Motion Picture “The Wicker Man”, The Motion Picture Screenplay by Anthony Shaffer and The Novel “Ritual” by David Pinner and by Special Arrangement with StudioCanal. The Wicker Man composed by Paul Giovanni © StudioCanal ( p ) Canal+Image UK Ltd

Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Jimmy Chisholm, Greg Hemphill, Johnny McKnight, Sally Reid, Paul Riley and Ros Sydney

On a remote Scottish island, amateur theatre company The Loch Parry Players are rehearsing their stage version of cult film The Wicker Man. Their unique approach to this classic horror owes more to Glee than Christopher Lee, but as they say themselves – we’re all about the fun!

However, as is often the way in the business called show, there’s a problem. Their leading man has gone missing in ‘mysterious circumstances’. All is not lost though, as they’ve managed to hire an actor – who stars as a cop on the telly – to come over from the mainland and step in at the last minute. So far, so good, so on with the show.

Of course, what they haven’t told him is that there’s just 24 hours before opening night. Not only that, they’ve also failed to mention that he’ll have to learn a host of song and dance routines, deal with amazingly bad acting (there’s more ham onstage than you’ll find in a Waitrose deli) criminal costumes and sets that can kill. Strangest of all, everyone else in the show seems to think that it’s for real…

Following this so far? No? Well don’t worry. All you need to know is that there’s laughs by the bucket load, more innuendo than you can shake a maypole at and an erotic dance sequence that doesn’t beat about the bush.

Appointment with the Wicker Man is a love letter to a unique and timeless cult masterpiece, except that someone forgot to pay the postage. This adaptation messes with forces it can’t possibly comprehend and at the end of the night, only one thing is for sure…someone’s going to burn for this!

Assembly Rooms: Music Hall

Wed 1 Aug – Sun 26 Aug at 3:10pm Press Performance: Fri 3 Aug at 3:10pm

Age guide: suggested 16+

Running time approx. 90mins.

For more details:

Stephen Volk to host Q&A with Robin Hardy at FantasyCon 2012

19 06 2012


We are delighted to announce that British FantasyCon will be returning to the historic seaside city of Brighton in 2012.

Following the unprecedented success of FantasyCon 2011, the event will once again be held at the Royal Albion Hotel, only a few minutes walk away from numerous restaurants, wine bars and clubs, as well as the Antiquarian shopping precinct The Lanes, Brighton Pier, the Sea Life Centre and the world-famous Royal Pavilion.

On Friday September 28 at 8 pm,  FantasyCon presents a screening of The Wicker Tree with a Q&A with writer/director Robin Hardy, hosted by Stephen Volk.

Contact FantasyCon for further details:

‘Still doing the rite thing – A Wicker Man sequel at last’ – The Independent

23 05 2012

After 40 years, Director Robin Hardy has finally followed up one of cinema’s biggest cult successes

Tim Cumming


How do you better a film that has accrued a mythology that no new product can possibly match? And if that film was your own, released almost 40 years ago and literally buried by the film company that bankrolled it before its remarkable resurrection as “the greatest cult film Britain ever produced”, would you really want to go back to make a weirdly distorted mirror-image of it, right down to the title? And would the sacrifice here be that of your own reputation?

These are questions that do not seem to occupy Robin Hardy, the octogenarian director of The Wicker Tree, as he cheerfully discusses its release. His follow-up, or “spiritual sequel’, as it has been dubbed, to The Wicker Man is an eccentric, if bluntly effective instrument. Based on his 2006 novel, Cowboys for Christ, it throws a couple of Texan innocents into the heart of a pagan darkness orchestrated by the local laird, and lets deadly games commence. As Hardy says, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of how and when; but you will have your sacrifice.

“It’s a black comedy,” he asserts crisply. “It’s not a horror film. Everyone thinks it is, but it’s not.”

“I got a bit caught with that.” Hardy, talking at his central London home, cuts a sprightly figure, energetically fielding The Wicker Tree’s upcoming theatrical and DVD release with pre-production on a new project, working-titled The Wrath of the Gods, which draws not on the Celts but Norse mythology. Which is even more violent.

The Wicker Tree, like its antecedent, deals with the battle between two magical systems – Christianity and Celtic Paganism – though one might add a third, the cult of The Wicker Man itself, whose mythology Hardy’s film plays with like a cat pawing its prey. Instead of no apples, it’s a case of no babies, as a result of a leak at the local nuclear facility which has polluted the groundwater, the loins of the local women, and the sacred river they bathe in.

It’s a neat ecological twist, and by pitting modern US Christian fundamentalism against an older, more knowing paganism, Hardy gets to exercise some social satire on the nature of power, belief, faith and naivety, while revelling more in the spirit of high camp than high magic.

The parallels between the two are myriad, and often bizarrely, deliberately skewed. In Hardy’s “game within a game within a game”, instead of an uptight Christian copper we get onetime pop nymphet Beth (Brittania Nicol) and her cowboy boyfriend Steve (Henry Garrett), their teenage lusts bound by chastity rings, travelling to Scotland on a mission to bring the Lord to the heathens of Glasgow. There they meet indifference, failure, and, in the figure of the Laird of Tressock (Graham McTavish), their ultimate fate as central figures in the citizens’ enthusiastic May Day activities.

Aside from a very few successes, sequels and remakes tend to be cursed operations. Consider Neil LaBute’s Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage. The Wicker Tree may not equal the cult of the original, but it does a good job of subverting and celebrating it at the same time.

When Hardy took The Wicker Tree to market at Cannes last year, they didn’t get it. “So we took it to the Fantasia festival in Montreal,” he says, “and they adored the film; the man who ran it said, ‘it’s almost completely off the wall’, and they got it. That’s exactly what happened with The Wicker Man.”

‘The Wicker Tree’ is out now in selected cinemas and on DVD and Blu-ray–a-wicker-man-sequel-at-last-7723187.html

Wicker double bill to screen at National Arts Festival in S.Africa with DIrector Q&A

1 05 2012

National Arts Festival Grahamstown  The Wicker Tree (2011) and The Wicker Man (1973) to screen as double bill at National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, SA with Director Q&A

The Wicker Tree (2011):

Saturday 30 June 19:00 (followed by interview with Robin Hardy)

and Sunday 1 July 18:00

The Wicker Man (1973):

Saturday 30 June 22:00

Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man is recognised as one of the 100 great British films of all time. Now forty years later Hardy returns with his next Pagan classic The Wicker Tree based on his own book Cowboys for Christ. Young Christians Beth and Steve, a gospel singer and her cowboy boyfriend, leave Texas to preach door-to-door in Scotland. When, after initial abuse, they are welcomed with joy and elation to Tressock, the border fiefdom, they assume their hosts simply want to hear moreabout Jesus. How innocent and wrong they are. With his excellent feel for location, Hardy has created an intriguing pagan culture, at times sinister and at times gloriously seductive. We are delighted to welcome the director, Robin Hardy, to the National Arts Festival to introduce the film and to discuss both films between their scheduled screenings.

Robin Hardy to appear as a plenary speaker at RIAS 2012

30 04 2012


AT RIAS International Convention Aberdeen 10-12 May 2012

 Re-engaging with the Past

We have a fantastic group of speakers lined up for the RIAS 2012 Convention, our major annual event, this year to be held in Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema.

The first half day of the Convention, the Thursday afternoon, will embrace a sports theme with Gerry Grams of Glasgow City Council talking about the Commonwealth Games masterplans and infrastructure andKerr Robertson, also of Glasgow City Council, reporting on the sports facilities for Glasgow 2014.

James Grimley of Reiach & Hall Architects will review their RIBA Award winning Aberdeen Regional Sports Centre.

David Mackay Hon FRIAS, of Barcelona based MBM Arquitectes, will look back on the Barcelona Olympics while Kevin Owens of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd, will look ahead to the 2012 Olympics. Mike Taylor of Hopkins Architects will talk about the Olympic Velodrome.

The Friday plenary session will feature both exceptional Scottish and International speakers:
Evgeny Gerasimov, Evgeny Gerasimov & Partners, St Petersburg and Berlin
Neil Gillespie OBE FRIAS, Reiach & Hall Architects, Edinburgh
Robin Hardy, screenwriter and director
Gareth Hoskins FRIAS, Gareth Hoskins Architects, Glasgow
Kengo Kuma, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Tokyo
John McAslan CBE RIAS, John McAslan & Partners, London
Philip Long, V&A Dundee
David Page FRIAS, PagePark Architects, Glasgow
Eric Parry, Eric Parry Architects, London
Charles Renfro, Diller Scofidio and Renfro, New York
Murray Restrup FRIAS, President ASA, Aberdeen
Morten Schmidt, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, Aarhus
Sergei Tchoban, SPEECH Tchoban/Kuznetsov, Moscow

Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema is an eminently suitable venue for Convention 2012. The recently restored and re-opened historic picture-house will play host to our traditional Thursday afternoon and Friday plenary sessions, while Richard Murphy’s Park Inn, a more recent addition to the Aberdeen scene, will serve as both the Convention hotel and the venue for the speaker’s dinner on the Friday evening.

Robin Hardy talks Wicker Trilogy

28 04 2012

The Wicker Tree was recently released to Blu-ray, and although I talked to director Robin Hardy in detail about the film earlier this year, I wanted to follow up on a couple of items. Hardy gave me his thoughts on the film’s mixed reception in the United States, and let me know what he’s planning for the third film in a loose trilogy of “Wicker” movies.

What do you think of the reception that The Wicker Tree has received in the US? When we last spoke, you mentioned that this was more of a black comedy, but was being marketed as a horror film. Do you feel that this should have been developed as more of a comedy or straight horror film?

Robin Hardy: When we first made The Wicker Man, the American press received it very well and it was considered a horror film. Horror films back then were seen as very different from what they are today.

If I was told today that I was going to see a new British horror film, which is usually more yucky than most, I wouldn’t cross the road to see it because I don’t particularly like that kind of film. I absolutely recognize that there is a place for it and it is a market of its own, but it’s not the market I’m making the film for. That is, if I’m making a film for a market at all, because I think one makes a film in order to express what you have to say or to entertain the audience. It’s not because I thought it was going to fit in some kind of marketing plan.

There were some very nice reviews. The New York Times review I particularly liked, and they said The Wicker Tree wasn’t as gritty as the original The Wicker Man, but it was one thousand times better than the remake. It’s not for me to say I would sell it differently, though.

I also think there was a huge confusion, in America at least, about whether The Wicker Manremake had something to do with this film. Since the reception of the remake was pretty appalling, I’m not surprised that there is some resistance to this film.

I understand that there was a third film planned to wrap up a loose “Wicker” trilogy. Is that something you’re actively working on?

Robin Hardy: It’s really the story of the end of the Ring Cycle by Wagner, where the gods have been defeated. They have overplayed their hand and they have to go back to Valhalla. I’ve written a screenplay that is very loosely based on that with completely contemporary characters, American and Scottish.

I’m going to shoot it in the northern most islands in the British Isles. They are probably more Scandinavian than Scottish, and I’m going to use some of that folklore too. It’s about the gods getting their comeuppance. The music will also be very important again and it will be tongue-in-cheek, but will  also be very scary at the end.

I’m calling it The Wrath of the Gods, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we changed the title because of The Wrath of the Titans. We could call it The Twilight of the Gods, which may be closer to the Wagner story.

By Jonathan James

Robin Hardy Q&A at Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square

30 03 2012

Legendary cinema hosts Wicker double bill

in London’s Leicester Square

 Director Robin Hardy Q&A Screening

The PCC is very proud to present a very special double bill of ‘The Wicker Man’ and the brand new sequel by the same team ‘The Wicker Tree’. Plus Robin Hardy, the director of both films will be in to host a Q&A session about his work.

Kicking off at 19:00 we’ll be screening The Wickerman, then there will be a Q&A session with the director before a screening of the brand new The Wicker Tree.

Book Now as this will sell out quick

Beltane Fire Society celebrates 25 years of Fire Festival

15 03 2012

Tickets now on sale for this wonderful event –



Rue Morgue Podcast with Robin Hardy

11 02 2012

Robin Hardy talks about all things Wicker

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On this episode of the Rue Morgue Podcast, I’m delighted to welcome Robin Hardy, director of one of the greatest horror movies ever made: the 1973 British cult classic The Wickerman starring the legendary Christopher Lee.

Nearly 40 years later, Mr. Hardy returns with his long-anticipated follow-up entitled The Wicker Tree starring Graham McTavish (Rambo) and talented newcomer Brittania Nicol. The film saw a limited theatrical run in the U.S. on January 27th and is scheduled to hit home video on April 24th courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

In this interview, we find out all sorts of juicy bits and bobs, including what inspired Hardy to return to the land of the Scottish pagans, the importance of music to both films, what he thinks of The Wickerman Remake and why Christopher Leeconsiders the original Wickerman to be his finest role.


Shetland Arts presents a screening of The Wicker Tree with introduction by Robin Hardy

27 01 2012


Shetland Arts is delighted to present a free public screening of The Wicker Tree (for ages 15 and over) at the Garrison Theatre, Market Street, Lerwick on Wednesday 1st of February at 7.30pm. There will also be a short introduction to the film by its director, Robin Hardy.

The Wicker Tree is a film adaptation of Robin Hardy’s 2006 novel, Cowboys for Christ, and contains similar elements to his 1973 film The Wicker Man, but it is neither a sequel nor a remake of that film.

The film focuses on Texas pop star turned gospel singer, Beth (Brittania Nicol) and her boyfriend, Steve (Henry Garrett), both devout evangelical Christians sent on a mission to spread the word of God to the people of Scotland.  Beth and Steve decide to begin their preaching at the May Day celebrations in the village. In an attempt to impress the locals, they agree to becoming the local Queen of the May and the Laddie for the festival, not realising the consequences of their decision and what awaits them.

Lisa Ward, Marketing Officer at Shetland Arts, said: “This is a unique opportunity to see a new film by celebrated director and writer Robin Hardy. I expect there will be a lot of interest in the screening.”

The screening is free of charge but Shetland Arts strongly recommends booking tickets to ensure a seat. Tickets can be booked through Shetland Box Office online at or by calling 01595 745 555.

EmpireOnline Reviews The Wicker Man

15 01 2012



Sgt. Howie travels to Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. He discovers that the locals are weird and unhelpful, and becomes determined to get to the bottom of the disappearance.


When it comes to horror, as with much else, the British are a pretty repressed lot. The old Universal Frankenstein and Dracula of the 30s caused such a stir that a new H certificate was inaugurated. Later, the rash of drive-in movies of the 50s which were intended for adolescent audiences (I Was A Teenage Werewolf etc.) were slapped with X certificates and by the mid 80s Margaret Thatcher and The Daily Mail between them had conjured up the “video nasties” scandal that was the latest episode in the continuing war on horror movies. As a result, British horror has generally bordered on the anaemic with Hammer dominating the home-grown industry, churning out movies that some critics will argue were innovative, but which for many didn’t do what horror should — disturb and challenge.

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New US Theatrical Trailer Released for The Wicker Tree

5 12 2011

New HD trailer for The Wicker Tree ahead of its US theatrical release on January 27th 2012.

New US Theatrical Poster Released for The Wicker Tree

1 12 2011

Talking Filmmaking, The Wicker Tree and The Wrath of the Gods

27 11 2011



“Years ago, when I was writing novels and short stories, my editor was Jacqueline (Kennedy) Onassis,” Robin Hardy recalls, Jackie once said to me, ‘You will never be a really successful writer, Robin, unless you take your tongue out of your cheek.’ “Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to do that because, as you know, my tongue has always been planted rather firmly in my cheek,” confesses the writer/director of the cult classic The Wicker Man.
After receiving a standing ovation from the enthusiastic Fantasia audience, Hardy introduced his wildly wicked new horror/fantasy/comedy The Wicker Tree at its world premiere, saying, ‘Feel free to laugh.’ “The Wicker Man genre was kind of invented with the first film – in which we deliberately tried to create a really joyous community – the kind of community that wasn’t puritan and obsessed with fearing God and feeling guilty about sin the whole time,” he says. “When that film was made in the early 1970s, Scotland was still very Presbyterian. No drinking was allowed on Sundays and a strict morality prevailed. So the policeman in that film represented not only himself but the Christian community at large. When he arrived on a Scottish island where people were singing and having a good time, where people danced around the Maypole in an obviously sexual way, celebrating the renewal of life, it was to him, an essentially alien society. That furnished us, as the filmmakers with songs, jokes and a good deal of decorative sex. However, that all goes along with an increasingly dangerous, creepy situation because something else is going on behind all this. We try to suggest that by putting a whole series of clues – rather like the objects in a treasure hunt – in plain sight. But you don’t immediately see them because they blend with the background. That made for a very quirky film, I think. It was a film that could not be defined as just a comedy or just a thriller or just a tragedy or just a love story. It was all of those things, which put it in the ‘genre’ category. Genre films are not designed to fit into one particular category.”

Mayhem Horror Film Festival, Nottingham, 29th October 2011

1 11 2011

Robin Hardy attended the Mayhem Horror Film Festival at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham last weekend to hold a Q&A for THE WICKER TREE.


Directed by Robin Hardy (UK) 2010 – 7.45pm

Finally a spiritual follow-up from the creative genius behind the original film. Religions clash in this witty satire pitching Christian evangelists against a much older religion. More a satirical companion piece than a full blown sequel from the filmmaker who changed the face of British horror for good.

“A ferocious piece of camp… leavened with a tongue in cheek sense of humour… Amen.” Twitch

Wickerman Festival 2012 Tickets Go On Sale

31 10 2011

Festival Hots Up…But Prices Frozen! 2012 Wickerman Festival Ticket Sale Launched

The Wickerman Festival is today (31st October) releasing tickets for the hotly anticipated 2012 event and with this comes an announcement that all ticket prices have been frozen at last year’s levels. This price cap is rewarding festival fans for their support and enthusiasm for one of Scotland’s most distinctive independent music festivals.

Weekend adult tickets are now available online ( and will remain at £90, with weekend concessions (13-15 years) costing £45 until 30th June 2012.

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Burning Questions for Robin Hardy as Paul Reaney interviews.

27 10 2011
Paul Reaney at LeftLion has some burning questions for the director of one of the most seminal British films of the Seventies about his latest film.
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The Wicker Tree

This Friday evening at Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, The Wicker Man’s octogenarian writer/director, Robin Hardy introduces his latest film, The Wicker Tree. The ‘spiritual sequel’ to the 1973 classic is being screened as part of Mayhem Horror Film Festival, which runs from Thursday 27 to Monday 31 October. We had a chat with Hardy to discuss the relationship between The Tree and The Man, why Hardy loves The West Wing and hates pigeonholing, and why he believes it’s far from grim up North. 

Speaking to Robin Hardy is daunting. While Hardy’s voice is as beguiling as Britt Ekland’s dance in The Wicker Man, his back-catalogue of interviews fit into two distinct categories: meandering and evasive or engaging and informed. Fortunately, I’m speaking to The Latter Man.

The reason for our conversation is the imminent release of The Wicker Tree at film festivals across the UK; the film will not receive general release until May 2013. The Wicker Tree, broadly described as a re-imagining of its forefather, is based on Hardy’s 2006 novel, Cowboys for Christ. Whilst The Wicker Man is about a missing girl, The Wicker Tree is centred around a Texas pop-star-turned-gospel-singer, Beth, and her cowboy boyfriend, Steve. The pair go to Scotland to save souls. Understandably, early reviews have described is as a cover version of his 1973 classic. However, it’s a description with which Hardy feels uncomfortable: “The Wicker Man and The Wicker Tree are completely different films. There’s a different context: whilst The Wicker Man is set on an island, The Wicker Tree is set at the Scottish borders. Indeed, The Wicker Tree was influenced heavily by The Border Ridings. The event can be traced back over five hundred years when Scottish families would rob from the English. That anti-establishment theme is very important to the film. Clearly, there are similarities. In both films we look at a Scottish religious fabric which contains strong strands of paganism and an almost Dionysian commitment to revelry. And like The Wicker Man, I would like The Wicker Tree to be viewed, at least in part as homage to Scotland’s beauty. I have no problem with similarities being drawn there.”

alt textChristopher Lee in The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man’s beauty almost never made it to screen. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wicker Tree plays IFI Horrorthon 2011 in Dublin

20 10 2011

Robin Hardy’s new film THE WICKER TREE will be part of the Irish Film Institute Horrorthon on 27th October 2011 in Dublin’s Temple Bar.

Advance bookings can be made with a credit card by telephone between 1.30pm and 7.30pm, Tel: (01) 679 3477 OR on our booking site: