the process is the artwork

Not one of them is respectable or unhappy

“I think I could turn and live with animals. They are so placid and self-contained. They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God. Not one of them kneels to another or to his own kind that lived thousands of years ago. Not one of them is respectable or unhappy, all over the earth.”

– Transcript of speech by Lord Summerisle (based on a poem by Walt Whitmanin: The Wicker Man, The Director’s Cut. 

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“The origins [of The Wicker Man] were an interest on the part of Tony Schaffer and I in horror films generally and we were great fans of the Hammer Films (…) but we felt that they were very much a series of films with a series of rules of how the devil and witches and things evil were viewed by the Church and thought it would be interesting, because many of those things were hang-overs from our pagan religion 15 or 16 centuries ago, it would be interesting to have a society in which everybody was a pagan (…) and we in effect put one Christian person amongst a pagan community.”

– Transcript of Robin Hardy in: The Wicker Man, The Director’s Cut, Commentary with Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Director Robin Hardy and Moderated by Mark Kermode (2009).

I’ve watched the Robin Hardy classic horror/thriller cult movie The Wicker Man, The Director’s Cut (1973) four times today (!) (twice without and twice with commentaries) featuring Christopher Lee (better known as Saruman in Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings) as Lord Summerisle, Edward Woodward as the pious Sergeant Howie and Britt Ekland as the seductive Willow. Storyline: “A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there” (ref.)

“Almost as famous as The Wicker Man itself are the stories surrounding the film. The version first released was almost completely butchered from an original, almost grandiose cut of 102 minutes to a more concise 87. Christopher Lee has always maintained that this was a crime against the greatest piece of art with which he had ever been involved. The original negatives were then accidentally thrown out” (ref). If you’re not considering watching the movie as many times as I did today, you should definitely watch the longest available version, because as Hardy says in the audio commentary to the 2009 DVD release: “I don’t think you’d find a director in the whole world who wouldn’t be happy with the longest cut.”

“This attitude «that people wouldn’t understand» is far too prevalent in the cinema today. People should be able to use what’s left of their minds when they watch something. It isn’t just entertainment.”

– Transcript of Christopher Lee in: The Wicker Man, The Director’s Cut, Commentary with Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Director Robin Hardy and Moderated by Mark Kermode (2009).

The Wicked Man Enigma, documentary:

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