After years in the pipeline, the remake of the Scottish cult classic, The Wicker Man, starring Oscar-winner, Nicolas Cage, will be released in the UK at the start of September.
But devotees of the original movie can expect to be disappointed by substantial differences between the two versions and critics are to be denied the chance to pass comment before it is released.
The setting of the film, which was shot Vancouver in July last year, has been switched to Maine on the East Coast of America. Instead of Edward Woodward as the God-fearing policeman sent to investigate satanic rituals, Cage plays
a sheriff who stumbles upon pagan shenanigans while looking into the disappearance of a young woman on an isolated island off the coast. The new version dispenses with Woodward’s character being a virgin.
The original film starred Woodward, Britt Ekland and Christopher Lee; took place off the West coast of Scotland; and was filmed at Plockton, Skye, Ayrshire, and Dumfries and Galloway.
Lee has gone on record saying it was “the best film I have ever been in”. He and the original director, Robin Hardy,
have always been sceptical about the possibilities of a remake and the pair still have a project in The Wicker Man mould, called May Day, again revolving around Celtic rituals, but it has yet to find backers.
The Wicker Man began life in 1972 when Lee, along with a Peter Snell – head of film company, British Lion – and writer, Anthony Shaffer, formed a casual consortium and started to discuss the possibility of working on a movie project of mutual interest.
Shaffer had purchased a 1967 book called Ritual, by David Pinner, with the idea of developing a screenplay. Eventually, even though each member of the consortium had chipped in