Wicker Man The Final Cut 4K artwork

The Wicker Man (The Final Cut SteelBook 4K Review)

Wicker Man 50th anniversary

Released in 1973, The Wicker Man is arguably one of the most bizarre, yet most compelling films of the era. In a period that had no shortage of obscure cinema – from the more mainstream Clockwork Orange (1971) to the less accessible Eraserhead (1977) – The Wicker Man remains one that still leaves a lasting impression.

The product of a screenplay written by Anthony Shaffer, inspired by David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual, and highly unique direction from Robin Hardy, there is still so much more that makes The Wicker Man what it is. For starters, while labelled a Horror film, it is really not all too horrifying from the aspect of terror or graphic gore. Instead, the horror lies in something far different. What is it? Well, that is what stands out…. it is really based on the individual viewer’s ideas.

In short, The Wicker Man is highly unconventional in so many ways. Almost bordering on a musical, the film utilizes songs to relay the mood. Additionally, these moods are climaxed by imagery that might be overly weird to some. A film extremely difficult to pinpoint, that is truly the beauty of it, and thus why it is well worth discussing 50 years later.

A monumental anniversary for The Wicker Man, it is important to consider that there are several different iterations of this film available to view. You see, The Wicker Man restoration concept dates all the way back to the mid-1970s. So, summarizing it, there are actually three cuts; the original (88 minutes), the director’s cut (99 minutes), and the final cut (94 minutes). The final cut, Hardy’s preferred edition, is the result of 2013’s finding of additional missing material. This finding uncovered a 92-minute 35 mm print at the Harvard Film Archive. An exciting discovery for Hardy, who thought it was lost forever, in 2014, a special Final Cut Edition was released to fan’s delight. Now, a decade later, this edition receives a 4K release.

Released on October 17, 2023, Lionsgate offers The Wicker Man (The Final Cut) in 4K. Presented in a SteelBook, it features newly designed art by Richey Beckett which is unique to anything seen prior associated with the film. Colorful and elegantly put together, if anything, it adds even more to the film. This in mind, the set comes with a plastic slipcase for the steelbook, also adding to everything, plus a 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc. 

Both discs feature the final cut edition of the film with several special features. Summarizing these, the 4K disc has interviews, a documentary revisiting the locations the film was shot, a look back at the film 50 years later, and some interviews. This is while the Blu-ray disc features more insightful documentary material and interviews, plus more. Furthermore, the start of the film gives you a brief written backstory into this 4K restoration process; and this is truly compelling to someone who appreciates the care and work it takes to put something together.

Discussing all these features, the x-factor for everything here is the 4K transfer. Clearly handled with finesse, the imagery is significantly sharper and the sound is superior to prior editions. Speaking of which, the sound is sometimes overlooked with other 4K transfers, but thankfully that is not the case here. After all, the sound quality is especially important with The Wicker Man because of the abundant amount of music that is vital to the effectiveness of it all. 

Overall, The Wicker Man The Final Cut in 4K is a stellar presentation. Also available in a 5-disc collector’s edition for those who want even more, the 2-disc steelbook is perfect for a budget. A movie that everyone should see at least once, The Wicker Man challenges you to think beyond your own world, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives The Wicker Man The Final Cut 4K Steelbook 4.5 out of 5 stars.  

Wicker Man The Final Cut 4K art
Wicker Man The Final Cut 4K Steelbook / Lionsgate (2023)

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