Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt, Britt Ekland
Extras: Documentary, Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots, Biographies
In a sense incorrectly regarded as a true horror film by many, "The Wicker Man" is actually a dark thriller that has extensive religious and occult references and a dark, foreboding tone. It is the story of Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), a police officer who travels to a remote, private island off the coast of Scotland, to investigate the disappearance of a young local girl. To his surprise, no one seems to know the girl despite the fact that she must have grown up among them. Even her mother refutes her existence, but before long, Sergeant Howie is able to find clues that lead him to believe that the girl may have become a victim of a violent crime and that the entire island is covering up for the murder. Amazed, shocked and disgusted by the locals’ attitudes, and the openly pagan religious worshipping exercised on the island under the direction of the island’s owner Lord Summerisle leaves Sergeant Howie little choice. He has to infiltrate their cult to learn what really happened.
The film manages to lure the viewer into this weird world of island living where sexuality is an open pleasure and everyone gets some and where a harrowing darkness seems to lurk underneath the friendly surface. It creates a strong sense of uneasiness within the viewer but always gives the viewer a feeling of superiority, as if we knew what was really going on. As the viewer learns however, little does he really know about what is really happening.
"The Wicker Man" features a superb and authentic cast, which help make the film such an experience. Real townspeople – not actors – have been used to create the credibility within the community, while the main characters have been cast with the likes of Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt and Edward Woodward. For Lee it was a welcome break away from the Hammer films and the typecasting he had been fighting at the time, as his character of Lord Summerisle is a wicked mix of madman and nobleman that he masterfully fills with believability and depth. But it is Edward Woodward who carries the film with his frustration and his inability to grasp the orgiastic lifestyle of decadence and lack of concern that he is facing the moment he sets foot on the remote island. In true rational policeman fashion tries to solve the case in an attempt to hammer home common sense thinking into people’s minds to find out the truth about the disappearance.
The compression of the film has been handled very well and there are no noticeable compression artifacts, despite the film’s challenging nature. Maintaining grain in a film without turning it into a mess of artifacts is a challenge only few compressionists know how to handle well.
Once again, Anchor Bay has gone the extra mile with this release and created a new <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio mix for this release. Although the film dates itself through its music and its use thereof, the result is a very natural presentation that is free of distortion and sibilance. There is no background noise and a good frequency response creates a well-rounded sonic experience. Dialogues sound a bit harsh at times as a result of the technical limitations of the source material, but overall this remix is a well-done and welcome addition to the DVD that makes it all the more valuable.
The DVD also contains a few interesting extras, such as a new 35-minute documentary entitled "The Wicker Man Enigma." Featuring interviews and a look at the history of the film itself, this documentary offers valuable insight into the origins of the film, its production, but also its violation as it got censored and edited. In depth it explores the controversy surrounding the film and offers the views of those affiliated with the production, such as Christopher Lee in retrospect.
Theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots as well as biographies of the principal cast members can also be found on this DVD, as well as an Easter Egg that reveals some ultra-rare footage that fans will, no doubt, die for!