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The Wicker Man [Blu-ray]
(Robin Hardy, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: British Lion Film Corporation
Video: Lions Gate
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 46,707,866,200 bytes
Feature Size: 26,823,548,928 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: January 7th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1097 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1097 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit / DN -5dB)
English (SDH), English, Spanish, none
•Worshipping The Wicker Man (23:35)
• The Music of The Wicker Man (16:02)
• Interview for Robin Hardy (16:59)
• Restoration Comparison (1:55)
• Trailer (1:30)
Description: When a young girl mysteriously vanishes, Police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) travels to a remote Scottish island to investigate. But the seemingly quiet community is not as it appears, as the detective uncovers a secretive pagan society led by the strange Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). While the townsfolk tempt and threaten him with bizarre rituals and wanton lust, Howie must race to discover the truth behind the girl's disappearance before his clash with Lord Summerisle builds to a terrifying conclusion - one that has cemented this cult shocker as a modern horror masterpiece.
A righteous police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl comes into conflict with the unusual residents of a secluded Scottish isle in this unsettling, intelligent chiller. Brought to the island of Summerisle by an anonymous letter, Edward Woodward's constable is surprised to discover that the island's population suspiciously denies the missing girl's very existence. Even more shocking, at least to the traditionally pious law office, the island is ruled by a libertarian society organized around pagan rituals. Repelled by the open acceptance of sexuality, nature worship, and even witchcraft, the officer takes an antagonistic attitude towards the people and their leader, an eccentric but charming English lord (Christopher Lee). The officer's unease intensifies as he continues his investigation, slowly coming to fear that the girl's disappearance may be linked in a particularly horrifying manner to an upcoming public festival. Anthony Shaffer's meticulously crafted screenplay creates a thoroughly convincing alternative society, building tension through slow discovery and indirect suggestion and making the terrifying climax all the more effective. Performances are also perfectly tuned, with Woodward suitably priggish as the investigator and horror icon Lee delivering one of his most accomplished performances as Lord Summerisle. Little noticed during its original theatrical run due to studio edits and a limited release, the film's intelligence and uncanny tone has since attracted a devoted cult following.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Not long into "The Wicker Man", I found myself thinking that this
was quite possibly the most English movie I would ever see; that it was
shot and perhaps set in Scotland doesn't do much to change that opinion.
It's not the England (or Britain) of London and the cities, but the
rural part where the old-ways aren't nearly so buried as they are in
town. That's the basic set-up of a good many fine horror movies, even if
it usually applies to a small group of people rather than a place.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Wicker Man has been restored and is available on Blu-ray on both sides of the pond. The image quality is substantially improved notably being cleaner, crisper and the 1080P dual-layered transfer with max'ed out bitrate further enhances exporting the contrast producing a higher level of detail. You can even get a hint of the performer's make-up! Colors seem authentic in their flatness but the overall image frequently shows depth. Even the grainer flashback/dream sequences appear to have true texture although, from multiple sources, look radically different than the bulk of the feature. The I noted no digital noise and I don't see manipulation at all in the visuals. This looks very impressive and I was extremely pleased with the presentation despite the varying anomalies, and color correction, of the sourced ('dupe') elements to bring it to the labeling known as 'The Final Cut' at 94-minutes. There was a 'Director's Cut' that ran 99-minutes and a US Theatrical Cut at 87 minutes. This seems a happy medium between the two without undue censorship or disjointing the flow of Anthony Shaffer's story.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Paul Giovanni's haunting and iconic lone score (including Willows Song, Maypole Song, The Landlord's Daughter etc.) sounds authentically flat via Lions Gate's DTS-HD Master mono track at 1097 kbps. The effects and music seems buoyant and crisp enough without range or depth. Optional subtitles are available.My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Worshipping The Wicker Man runs almost 24-minutes and has interviews with individuals in the industry who discuss the film's impact and why it is so memorable. The Music of The Wicker Man has 15-minutes with Music Director Gary Carpenter discussing details of the release of the original soundtrack. It is quite interesting for those familiar with the film's music. We get a new, 17-minute, interview for director Robin Hardy who discusses the process of how the film came to fruition. There is a brief, restoration comparison which really shows the improvement and, lastly, we get a trailer.
January 16th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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