The Wicker Man observations (spoilers)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Sean Patrick, Sep 8, 2001.

  1. Sean Patrick

    Sean Patrick Supporting Actor

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    i know this post may end up being semi-flamebait material, but here it goes.
    i really REALLY like this movie, and Anchor Bay did a great job with the packaging of the SE. This was my first time seeing it and I imagine it will grow on me even more with repeat viewings. BUT...judging by the footage edited back into the film to create the expanded version, I just don't see how essential this footage was to the overall film. I have read quotes about how it completely changes the film and how without the missing footage the theatrical cut is a disaster, but judging by the material from the analog tape on this dvd, i just don't see *that* much important info that could be missing from the theatrical cut.
    I'm going to watch the other dvd tonight to see my impressions of that disc. looking forward to the 5.1 mix....only now, a lot of the "missing" scenes (like the setup of why he's going to the island, explanatory segments like when he tells the girl he's going to the school, transitions like his walk into the cemetary), even though they're missing, will still be explained since i've seen the expanded version. the only scene i really wish they HADN'T put back in was when the Innkeeper's daughter looks into the camera during her nude dance and pretty much turns the scene into a music video.
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  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Since you brought it up... I think the extra footage RUINS the film, it is MUCH better in the theatrical version. I also saw this for the first time on this disc, and watched the short cut first. The ending was completely unexpected, whereas the long cut keeps dropping major spoilers all along the way.
    Since spoilers have been addressed in the header, what follows is spoiler, so stpo reading now:
    - I don't like Lee being introduced early in the film, it works better that we see him later and don't know what his role is.
    - The doctor claims there is a death certificate, then in the next scene there is no death certificate. Wouldn't the cop arrest the doctor or the woman based on obvious lying?
    - There is far too much exposition about the rituals in the long cut.
    - Even the intro is unnecessary as all the info given there is solved by the "day after" scene in the short cut.
    Now, I like having the long cut available, but IMO it is a vastly poorer film than the short cut.
    It's cold up here, I can use the heat, and what more appropriate film to have as flame bait. [​IMG]
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  3. Jeff Peake

    Jeff Peake Supporting Actor

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    I agree with you guys! The added footage doesnt seem to add anything of substance.
    I watched the film for the first time this weekend (love the SE packaging). Hadnt heard of it before seeing the wooden box at best buy. Picked it up on a whim and am very glad I did.
    Maybe some folks more familiar with the film can shed some light on what they think the added footage improves.
    Jeff Peake
     
  4. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    Add another voice to the crowd that prefers the short cut. OK, I really like the speech that Lord Summerisle delivers to the snail, but the theatrical version is better sequenced, tighter, and more unexpected than the overly expository expanded version.
    Mark
     
  5. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    What I liked in the short cut is the subtlety of the clues. When we get the final sequence all these seemingly unimportant bits suddenly come together, whereas the long cut drills every point home, in a completely overt way.
    I like the snails, but not Lee's appearance then.
    I like the song under the "initiation", but prefered the seduction of the cop there instead.
    I like not knowing what is going to happen until the very end - we don't know if this is all an elaborate and harmless ruse.
    That said, I would have cut the short version differently. The church scene doesn't make sense where it is, and I would have found a way to keep the snails.
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  6. Scott Dill

    Scott Dill Stunt Coordinator

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    That's a good point Sean. I had previously only seen the shortened version (in a mythology course in college around 1985 of all places) and upon viewing the longer version, I didn't feel like their was any big deal to what I had missed.
    I do enjoy having the longer version, however. I preferred the two nights of temptation for Sgt. Howie and felt that having Lee (Summerisle) show up so early is no problem at all. There was no doubt that Lord Summerisle was involved with what ever was going on on (hmmm double "ons") the island, so I don't really see how this gives anything away.
    I truly love this film and am glad to see so many people are discovering it. I know that it is highly regarding in the UK, but I doubt it will find too many new American fans outside of the HTF crowd. Too slow weird and British for their tastes I'm afraid.
    Long live Anchor Bay! [​IMG]
     
  7. Paul Richardson

    Paul Richardson Second Unit

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    Well, I'll come out of the closet and say that I don't think the short cut is any worse than the long cut. Both cuts have their strengths, but I think the short cut still works very well. Even though the cuts were forced by the American distributor, the editor did a damn fine job of preserving the story.
    Still, I am glad that the longer cut is available as a matter of artistic integrity, since it is the director's (and most of the other creative team's) preferred version. Kudos to Anchor Bay for putting both versions in the LE box set.
    [Edited last by Paul Richardson on September 10, 2001 at 12:52 AM]
     
  8. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    The "initiation" sequence is really important because it makes the whole issue of Howie's virginity and "purity" much more pointed and makes Britt Ekland more of a life force on the island than just the randy inn-keeper's daughter. The early sequences are kind of superfluous but deepen Howie as a character, particularly his reaction to the 'Jesus Saves' sign ("There's a time and place for everything.")
     
  9. debi_lee

    debi_lee Stunt Coordinator

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    I came out of the closet on this when I first reviewed it--the shorter version is the way to go, especially for newcomers (I hope I influenced you, Mr. Ulmer, in that way [​IMG]). The longer version is much more delightful to watch later, once you know the whole story; it adds a bit more depth to what we already know, and means more the 2nd time around.
    The good news is, if you have the limited edition, you'll have it both ways and can change your mind, any time!
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  10. Cameron Seaman

    Cameron Seaman Supporting Actor

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    I would somewhat agree, but it is good to have both versions available!
    I liked the scenes with the snails on the theatrical version as well as the scene explaining how scarce apples were in the community. When I watched the Wicker Man for the first time, I watched the longer cut, and didn't feel the ending was spoiled at all. I was completely surprised!
    I recommended it to a couple of friends. If we watch it together, we may just watch the shorter cut.
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    The HTF Lowest Post Champion!
     
  11. Zane Charron

    Zane Charron Second Unit

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    I've become obsessed with this film since first watching it about 3 months ago. I've watched the theatrical version 3 times and the extended version twice, and can't decide which is the better film.

    I feel that setting up Sgt. Howie's background in the beginning is too much; that his assured performance throughout the film is more than enough to make you believe he is a by-the-book detective and devout christian. I like the 'initiation/snail' scene, though I would have prefered someone besides Lord Summerisle in the role, since he is a much more powerful figure being met for the first time in his mansion. Also, Sgt. Howie's seduction scene is MUCH better on the second night. It lends a smoother flow to the film and allows Willow a greater role in their society, as mentioned previously.

    Other edits and editions seemed small to me. Maybe the extended cut gives too many clues during the library scene of the finale, but that's about it.

    So, like I said, which is better is a toss-up. I count this as one of my favorite films, so either version is brilliant to me.
     
  12. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    I don't think the extended cut gives away the ending on first viewing (it didn't to me, not having seen the shorter cut). It's one of the great strengths of this film, that with hindsight it's obvious Howie is being led into a trap, but on first viewing, it's an offbeat, sometimes disturbing mystery chiller with one heck of a shocker ending.
     
  13. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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    You can see my extremely spoiler laden "review" here. It's very long winded, but does point out the differences, and in some cases, points out the relevence of the differences. Some of you may find it interesting, while some of you may fall asleep. [​IMG]
    Be forewarned though, there are great nudy shots, so don't look while at work. Enjoy! [​IMG]
     
  14. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    I watched this for the first time last night (the long cut) and I have to say that I had it figured out about half way through. That isn't to say that I didn't find it a fascinating film in its own strange way, but it wasn't exactly a mystery as to what was going to happen. I must say, though, that I found myself hypnotized by Christopher Lee's way bad toupee. [​IMG]
     
  15. Anthony Thorne

    Anthony Thorne Supporting Actor

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    Note too that the recent UK DVD set (mostly identical to the 2-disc Anchor Bay set) also features an exclusive commentary track on the director's cut with Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward and director Robin Hardy.
     
  16. Enrique B Chamorro

    Enrique B Chamorro Supporting Actor

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    If I had the extra cash, I would get the

    UK R2 PAL version just for the commentary

    track. The packaging also looks cooler than

    the US R1 version.
     
  17. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    My first exposure to the film was via the longer European cut that Media Home Video had acquired from Roger Corman, which is the same video master used for the 2nd disc.

    What the longer cut especially emphasises that the original did not (except through a flashback scene of Sgt. Howie in church) is that Howie is a devoutly religious person - the graffiti on the wall may be "a message for us all", but it has no place on a wall. While Howie is dating, he is continues to remain celibate. He is not a preacher, but the fact that he is delivering a guest sermon is an indication of his religious devotion. The intent of all this is to indicate to us that not only is he a religious man, but to set up the fact that he is a virgin, which comes to play at the film's conclusion. The various scenarios he encounters (the sex education class, the maypole dance, the fertility rituals, animal sacrifice, etc.) are so abhorrant to Howie's religious belief that we see an entirely different perspective to his character than than we would see in the North American cut.
     
  18. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Sorry, this isn't really discussion about the film, but I was wondering if anyone knows if the "Limited Edition" DVD is still available.
     
  19. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    I assume you're referring to the wooden box? I've seen a few down here at a Best Buy, Rain. If you have trouble finding one, give me a message. It's definitely one of the coolest sets in my collection.
     
  20. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    The limited edition wooden case is still around. I saw it at my local B&M (a Suncoast, I believe) last weekend.

    Chalk me up for preferring the shortened cut of the film.

    It will be interesting to see how they approach the remake(s) of this film. I for one am more interested in the Christopher Lee/Ewan Mcgregor project which was rumored several months ago.

    -j
     

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