THE WICKER MAN
About The Production
Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage and acclaimed director Neil LaBute both share an enduring fascination with the British film "The Wicker Man." The 1973 U.K. production starred Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland and was directed by Robin Hardy. Though not widely known at the time, the film captivated an increasing cult following in the ensuing years.
Cage's first exposure to it was at the home of legendary punk rock star and movie buff, the late Johnny Ramone. Cage recalls, "It wasn't like any movie that I had experienced before. It was very disturbing. Any movie that can make me feel like that has something very powerful about it."
Adds producer Norm Golightly, Cage's partner at Saturn Films, "A lot of people may know the title but have never seen the film. However, within a small community, a lot of people know 'The Wicker Man' and worship it."
"It had this spooky, eerie feeling that just hasn't been matched, in my opinion," adds producer Boaz Davidson.
In 1980, writer/director Neil LaBute was working in an art house cinema when he saw the trailer and poster for the original, which opened in the U.S. several years after its U.K. release. "It was one of those films that people either knew intimately or didn't know anything about," he remembers. "I loved the story, loved how it ended."
A filmmaker who has also distinguished himself in theater, LaBute's sensibilities were ideal for a contemporary reimagining of the story of "The Wicker Man." "Neil is renowned as a writer in the theatre world and with more artistic films," says producer Randall Emmett, "I thought, 'Wow, we can have a genre movie with a real artistic integrity.'"
"Neil loves actors," adds Cage. "He loves the dynamic of what happens between directing and acting and writing. He's very hands-on and loves the creative process. It's been a great joy to work with him on this film."
LaBute, who has garnered acclaim for his searing portrayals of relationships between the sexes in films like "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors," relished the opportunity to further explore the gray areas in-between, albeit in an unconventional way. "With this film, I went into a world that was probably closer to the kinds of works that I've done previously, in investigating how men and women relate to each other and the kind of power differential that exists between them," he says.
In remaking "The Wicker Man" more than three decades after the original film, LaBute incorporated a role reversal between the sexes that perhaps would be more readily accepted by today's audiences: Instead of the men being in charge, it is the women who are very much in control of the society on the mysterious island called Summersisle.
Although LaBute had not previously written specific characters for the actors that play them, he was delighted with the facility with which Cage inhabited the role of Edward Malus. "Coming out of his mouth, the dialog sounded absolutely right and like it was tailored for him, but I never really thought of it that way," he says. "I tended to just think of the character because I know Nic's strengths and his chameleon-like ability to become whoever. Nicolas Cage makes Edward a very human character."
Cage stars as Edward Malus, a highway cop content to patrol a lonely stretch of road in the California countryside. "He's the kind of man who is very happy doing what he does," says Cage. "He has his beliefs and what he believes in is the law."
Edward's life is interrupted by a devastating event in which he blames himself for the fiery deaths of a young mother and her daughter. "The accident puts him into a more fractured state of mind," explains Cage. "He's fragile; he's having some difficulty with anxiety, panic and his precise memory of what happened that day, and he's taking medication
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