Rest In Peace, Robin Hardy, Director Of THE WICKER MAN, 1929-2016
Robin Hardy, director of one of the all time great horror films, The Wicker Man has passed on at the age of 86.
Born in Surrey, England, Hardy started his career with the National Film Board of Canada, before going on to direct many TV commercials in the UK. At the request of Peter Snell's British Lion Productions, he came on board to direct the 1973 film which starred Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee.
Notably, before his own recent passing, Lee described The Wicker Man (known in much of Europe as The Wickerman) as the best film he was ever involved in - this from a man with nearly 300 film and TV credits including many entries in the Hammer Films oeuvre, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, a 007 picture, and the Star Wars prequels.
The influence of The Wicker Man cannot be overstated, from the recent Radiohead homage to the overall structure of Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz (which features a brief cameo from Woodward) to various musicians quoting dialogue and musical elements in their work. It played a significant role in bringing paganism back to Britain in a big way, and this from one of the most tortured releases in the UK and the United States.
In the UK it played as the B-side to one of the greatest horror double features ever (Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now was the "A" film on the bill), and in the US, it was a severely truncated drive-in movie, that still somehow managed to spawn a cult of viewers while it crawled its way to horror-classic. The oft quoted phrase, "The Citizen Kane of Horror films," comes from one Bay Area magazine, Cinefantastique, which was the first to recognize and trumpet its greatness. Even to this day, there are several edits of the film that still remain confusing as to what is the definitive one. The writing, acting and direction are all working in sync despite being such a troubled production and release.
After 1973, Robin Hardy worked publishing novels, consulting on American historical theme parks, and directing only two films in the 1980s before circling back to have another look at his legacy. A few years ago, myself and a colleague, Micheal Guillen, had the rare privilege of sitting down for a lengthy breakfast-long interview with the erudite and prickly writer-director, as he was releasing his satirical sequel, The Wicker Tree, at the Fantasia film festival. You can find that interview here.