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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Wicker Man [Blu-ray]

 

(Robin Hardy, 1973)

 

    

Studio Canal have a European package

  

and also a Limited Edition Steelbook:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: British Lion Film Corporation

Video: Lions Gate

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:34:09.041

Disc Size: 46,707,866,200 bytes

Feature Size: 26,823,548,928 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 7th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

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)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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.

 

 

The Film:

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.

That place is an island community in the Northwest, isolated enough that police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) must arrive by seaplane. He has received word of a missing girl, but when he arrives, nobody will admit to ever having heard of her, including her mother (Irene Sunters). Not that the locals make it easy for him; Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) is the only authority anyone on the island seems to recognize. By the time Howie does find evidence of the missing girl's existence, it seems very likely that her disappearance is tied to the pagan beliefs practiced widely and openly there, which may demand a sacrifice to fight the poor harvest.

Excerpt from Jay Seaver at eCritic located HERE

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I loved revisiting the original The Wicker Man in 1080P as it is so improved from the SD versions. There is no question of the film's haunting intangibles that make it so unforgettable. It has themes of power, isolationism, desire, communication. This Blu-ray is infinitely superior to any other digital editions that I've owned and it's easily a film that I will revisit yearly. Strongly recommend! 

Gary Tooze

January 16th, 2014

    

Studio Canal have a European package

   

and also a Limited Edition Steelbook:

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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