Accurately described as “the Citizen Kane of horror movies” by Cinefantastique, there really is nothing I can add to discussion around The Wicker Man – especially now, in its 50th year. Here is a film with a reputation and legacy that precedes it, and so, I’m not going to waste any time waxing lyrical about Robin Hardy’s iconic 1973 chiller (although I could go all day). Instead, I’m going to focus more specifically on StudioCanal’s work to celebrate the film’s half-century milestone.
On a personal level, The Wicker Man is a very special film to me. I’ll be honest and say that when I read the first press release around the film’s 4K re-release – granted, in a pretty challenging time for me personally – I cried. Happy tears, I might add. My love for the film meant I was hoping for some sort of release this year to celebrate the anniversary, and I had expected it to be a 4K release. What I hadn’t expected was just how much love would go into it. From the wonderful event in London (a star-studded screening and celebration) to the controversial cinema re-release, up to this gorgeous 4K UHD home release – this anniversary has been taken very seriously by StudioCanal.
The new home release – available in a stunning Steelbook and pop-up Collector’s Edition – is a thing of beauty. Boasting 4 and 5 discs respectively, these packages are surely the definitive final word on the film. Collecting all previous bonus features alongside new ones (and in the case of the Collector’s Edition, also included is a CD of covers celebrating the film’s iconic soundtrack), these releases are bursting with Summerisle goodness. The packaging of both editions is rather beautiful, too, with gorgeous new artwork on both releases, while the lavishly designed Collector’s Edition also includes a poster, booklet, and some lovely artcards within its charming little pop-up box.
On a technical level, albeit in considerably layman terms, the 4K UHD discs look utterly magnificent. While the film’s rather storied history means certain elements across all three cuts are in worse shape than others – most evident in the standard definition mainland prologue in the Director’s Cut – the film has never looked better. The chilling climax is particularly revelatory; the heat from the flames is truly felt thanks to the Dolby Vision HDR and gorgeous resolution. It is, considering source limitations in some instances, a flawless transfer, and lends even more power to the already mighty film.
The Wicker Man will always be my favourite film. It’s inked on my skin twice, and has an enormous place in my heart. To see it celebrated with such passion and love is incredibly moving, not just for me, but for the many, many fans out there who consider it the finest film of all time. This new release is loaded with extra features that’ll teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about The Wicker Man, alongside the film’s three cuts in sparkling 4K UHD. What more could a fan ever ask for? StudioCanal, you have outdone yourselves with this release, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Anyway, must dash, I have an appointment I must keep…
THE WICKER MAN is available on 4K UHD from StudioCanal on September 25, 2023