he best lilm ever made. In l)uml'riesshire. Maybe that’s

the accolade we could bestow upon Robin Hardy's cult

classic. With a conl‘ercnce on The ll'it'ker .llun. re- releases of DVDs. and the expected release of what promises to be a ghastly American remake directed by .\'eil l.aBute and starring .\'icolas (‘age. it might be the time to look anew at this cult movie which. somewhat ironically. condemns cults.

Also due is a new lilm by llardy himsell. The lea/mg oft/iv Iva/die. which he denies is a sequel to the original bill is about cult religions. It also sees the return ol' (‘hristopher Lee as a magus and Vanessa Redgrave as a magus’ inissus. It is in [Mist-prmluction now and there is every possibility of an autumn release.

All this has created even more web chatter than usual lrom the various geeks who l‘ollow such things. and a recent reading

ol‘ much ol‘ this matter has brought me ottt in a chronic bottt ol‘

antiraknophobia. At the end of the day. it‘s a good movie about a West Highland policeman who arrives at a small Scottish island in search ol‘ a missing girl. only to discover the place is overrun with pagan idolatry. But there are many myths around the film that lar exceed its simple narrative.

liirst. the dubious claims of national pride in the film by Scots. Well. we have an linglish screenwriter. Anthony Shatter. twin brother ol dramatist Peter. producing a script for British Lion. and then a similarly linglish production team crcaks into action. lidward Woodward. an linglishman with not so much a name as a stutter. is cast in the lead. (‘hristopher l.ee. another son of Albion. well sick of his Dracula image. becomes liddie's protagonist. There are. ol' course. three cheesecake roles littt' sexy actresses. so Britt likltttttl. Diane (‘ilento and Ingrid Pitt ta Swede. an Atistralian and a Pole resm‘ctively ). are duly cast.

But then there’s that haunting musical score ol‘ authentic (‘eltic folk songs. which seem to be largely about Vegetables (just listen to them. it you don't believe met; surely a Scot'.’ .\'ope. The composer of the mystil‘y'ingly acclaimed soundtrack. Paul (iiov'anni. was an .»\mcrican. Actually. no on— screen Scottish actor gets to mumble more than three or tour lines in the lilm. This is a shame really. since Pitt makes for a sttspiciottsly mittel—l{uropean sounding Highlander. and likland was dubbed almost entirely by Annie Ross. the one Scot permitted to give utterance. btit not to appear. in the lilm.

But maybe all the rumours of an unhappy cast and grim prmluction and distribution problems have added glamour to the lilm. Certainly. a chilly west coast location shoot in the late autumn ot‘ W72. pretending to be a 1973 summer.

Hardy's perennial

Cult classic or overrated horror with bum body doubles? As the 30th anniversary of Robin Hardy’s THE WICKER MAN is marked by a conference and music festival, we wonder if the film still cuts it today.

Words: Steve Cramer


couldn't have helped. l.ec's claim that HIV lli't'lu'r .llim was the greatest lilin he'd ever been involved in is oltcn quoted but. let‘s lace it. thetes a touch ol' ‘the world's tallest dwarl' about that. isn't there'.’ l.ess ol'ten heard is l’itt‘s view that it really wasn‘t worth all the loss. So too. likland's claim that the location was the lll(l\l miserable placc sllc'tl c‘\v‘t‘ been. She was in no hurry to return to Scotland. although she liiially ptit in an appearance in a local panto a lew years back.

On the subject ol likland. there‘s that other rumour about then partner Rod Stewart attempting to buy up all available prints ol the lilm. to spare her the emlmrrassnicnt ol. the much« publicised nttde dancing scene. But you wonder why he would have bothered. ()nly likland's top hall appears in the lilm. with another ttnheraldcd local substituting her posterior lot“ that ol the sultry Swede. lo this day. that lady could no doubt boast: ‘l'm the double ol' an arse.‘

Peter Shaller might have been saying the same thing at the time. l‘or Anthony did not cover himsell with glory. He began an allair vvith ('ilento on location. which eventually led to the almndonment ol his wile and children. His verdict on the lihn was not ovcr—cnthusiastic. either. l'or though he l'clt that llardy's linished product was 'highly original'. he added that the lilm was. in some scenes. ‘relatively unimaginative. showing some evidence ol ittc\pet‘iencc. with quite a lew sctltlcllccs ol cliched haste.’

l‘or all that. though. it iv a good lilm. The underlying metaphors are subtly quotioning ol' the hippie generation of the decade that had just passed. bttt not in the same mode as American horror lilms ol the time. l'nlikc It’uw/iiui'v”v [fa/iv. ’l‘lie (hunt and HI" liion'ivl. Hie Hit/HT .llmi is questioning ol- boll] sides.

N we ultimately identity with \Voodward‘s repressed. born again (‘hristian cop. the lilm points ottt that both his laith and that ol the paganistic. l'ertility-worshipping islanders are little more than superstition. All the same. long gone is the sense ol' the harmless joic dc \ ivrc ol pagan ritual that w c saw in such l‘rcc spirited lilms ol' the (ills as 'limi .lnm'v. lot“ the se\ually' liberated islanders. there‘s no such thing as a tree love. But the lilm is a tense and thoroughly enjoyable al'l'air. better in its longer. uncut version and it ultimately holds tip pretty well l'or its .‘yll years. The nerds are right about this at least.

Details of the conference can be found on www.the- wicker-man.co.uk; see Rock listings for music events. The Wicker Man is available on Warner DVD.