Witch Cinema 02|
Author: Peg Aloi [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: September 3rd. 2001
Times Viewed: 11,754
Your favorite media witch loves autumn: the colors, the smells, the hugeness of the sky, the shifting of the light as days narrow, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the taste of fresh cider donuts, wrapping up in wooly sweaters and shawls, that inescapable slow march towards winter, and through the cycle of death and dormancy to rebirth. Ah, life in New England! We have seasons and weather here, folks, believe it! I know my dear friends Fritz and Wren don't miss the snow, but I kinda suspect they miss the colors and perfumes of autumn...
As autumn approaches the very air around us changes: drier, cooler, and scented with that indescribable mixture of ripening fruits, decaying leaves, and, perhaps most luscious of all, autumn bonfires! I don't know about you, but the word "bonfire" for me is almost always capable of reminding me of one of my favorite cult films of all time: The Wicker Man .
As mentioned in my last column, The Wicker Man DVD release has been eagerly awaited by many pagans and horror film fans for months! I am happy to say the release is now available in several forms (VHS, both "theatrical" and "extended" versions, and DVD, including a deluxe wooden-boxed set with two postcards of vintage movie posters and two versions of the film: the 88 minute "theatrical" release and the "extended" version which is 99 minutes long). Your local video store can order it for you, or you can purchase it online from its distributor, http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com.
The extra goodies included in the deluxe DVD feature a wonderful documentary entitled "The Wicker Man Enigma." Any diehard fans are urged to view this short film which offers loads of fascinating commentary from the film's writer (Anthony Shaffer), director (Robin Hardy), art director (Seamus Flannery) and stars (Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt, and others). Topics discussed include: the difficulty of getting a distribution deal until a number of scenes were cut to shorten the film; Paul Giovanni's beautiful musical score and the fact that it was not at all clear to most of the crew at the beginning of production that this was, indeed, a musical! Also, the fact that many of the actors received not a dime to make this film.
Most distressing and interesting is the story of how the film's negatives have disappeared, making a true restoration of an old print impossible. In fact, the extended 99 minute version is cobbled together from the original theatrical print and an old analog print spliced in. There is a disclaimer at the beginning which warns viewers that this shift in visual quality (quite noticeable in parts) is due to the fact that the footage is impossible to lay hands on. Still it is nice to have this footage included; many people have only seen the shorter version, missing the wonderful "Gently, Johnny" scene!
Other "extras" include old theatrical trailers, as well as some horrid (but well-meaning) radio and TV spots recorded for a theatrical showing in Baton Rouge some years ago. A theatre in Manchester, England will be showing a double feature of the original theatrical double bill with Nicholas Roeg's excellent thriller Don't Look Now (another of my favorite films), so all you lucky UK pagans, be sure to attend this event in late October!
Another The Wicker Man update: well, it looks like the rumors of a modern-day remake are official. The Scottish Times newspaper ran an article stating that Canal Plus and Universal Pictures, along with Nicholas Cage's production company Saturn Films, will embark upon a remake with a projected budget of $40 million. Cage is slated to star, with indie filmmaker Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty) as writer and director. The story will be updated and set in the United States, and the location being discussed is a small island off North Carolina.
On a more serious note: Speaking of new releases, the documentary Revelations: Paradise Lost II is now available for purchase on DVD and VHS. Long-time friends of The Witches' Voice know we have been covering the plight of the West Memphis Three since I first viewed Paradise Lost in 1996. Revelations is every bit as chilling as the first film, providing an update on the case, a look at what Damien, Jessie and Jason's lives are like in prison (or in Damien's case, on Death Row), and the ongoing fight to raise awareness of which notably features a benefit filmed at Betwixt and Between, a pagan community center in Dallas, Texas. Because Damien Echols claimed to be a practicing Wiccan at the time of his arrest, and because the crime he was convicted of (the brutal slaying of three eight year old boys) was touted as a "satanic cult killing", many members of the Pagan community have become very actively interested in this case. For information on the DVD, and more information on the West Memphis Three, go to www.wm3.org, the website maintained by the West Memphis Three Support Fund, which has done a great deal of work to publicize the case and assist the incarcerated young men (whom many people, myself among them, believe to be wrongly imprisoned). If you order the DVD through Amazon, a portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Support Fund.
To order the DVD: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005MKOU/freethewestmemph/102-349877.
To order the VHS: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005MKOT/freethewestmemph
Well, that's all the cinema news for now! I guess we are all very excited about the upcoming film versions of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
Oh, and for everyone emailing me: no, I am very sorry, I do NOT know how you can get a video copy of The Mists of Avalon! I would suggest watching TNT's listings for when they may rebroadcast it (I would think they will do before the year is out).
See you at the movies!
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Saturday, August 1st, 2001
Email: [Staff Email]
Article ID: 3609
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,926
Times Read: 11,754
Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
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