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.


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

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