Film history is rich with accounts from restoration hell. Due to the delicate nature of film negatives and the poor archival practices of the past there exist times where portions, if not whole films, are lost altogether. There are numerous films, many dating from early film history, that may never be seen, or at least not in their original form. Every once in awhile, however, a story comes along that entices cinephiles alike. One of these stories involves the 1973 cult-classic The Wicker Man. The film has been subject to numerous edits, releases, re-edits, and reissues, until the most-definitive “Final Cut” Blu-Ray and DVD was released in January. The film, considered unmarketable by studios, was subject to heavy edits defying the director’s vision. While there are strange events at every turn in the story, the most illustrious is the explanation of where the original film negative currently resides: under the M3 highway in England. The 92-minute Final Cut (despite containing the director’s seal of approval) is still however missing 10 minutes of the film, which are probably (with the exception of a few remaining VHS bootlegs) lost. Either way, the Final Cut seems, with few exceptions, to be uncontested and is now making its way around theatres in a newly restored 35mm print.
If you live in New York City you have a chance at catching a screening via Nitehawk Cinema this Thursday, May 1, 2014. In true Nitehawk Cinema fashion, however, screening just the final cut wasn’t enough. In a move of either brilliance, or insanity (we lean towards the former), Nitehawk has decided to offer a double-feature billing, pairing The Wicker Man: Final Cut with its critically panned sequel. The sequel, starring Nicolas Cage at perhaps his most bizarre, has troubled viewers since its release. Failing to garnish the praise that its predecessor did, the film has instead caught on as an unintentional comedy. Similar to The Room’s success, The Wicker Man remake has survived its detractors by maintaining a core group of fans that find in the film’s ludicrousness a charm. This is one of the few chances you’ll have of seeing these two films side-by-side on a big screen, so if you are up for the challenge act fast. Tickets can be purchased online, via Nitehawk Cinema’s website. Purchase soon, as many their special events sell out in advance.