Robin Hardy's spiritual sequel to The Wicker Man is making a slow but steady crawl towards release. It's a year since the title was changed from Cowboys For Christ, but now here, finally, is a trailer for The Wicker Tree.
Hardy's first film for 24 years, based on his own 2007 novel, is a close parallel to The Wicker Man, rather than a follow-up per se. Each character from 1974 has an equivalent and the holy-fool-vs-old-world-religion plot structure is similar, but the details this time involve an evangelical Texan country singer and her boyfriend attempting to introduce Jesus to the small Scottish town of Tressock.
We're guessing it doesn't go well, although judging by the trailer there's plenty of fleshly pleasure along the way (although maybe not for Brittania Nicol). Nice bit of intoning from Christopher Lee there too, as well as a glimpse, although it may be overstating his involvement in the film, since he was forced to all but withdraw after an injury. His character seems to be called simply The Old Man, with some speculating that it's a cameo appearance for Lord Summerisle...
The Wicker Tree stars Graham McTavish, Jacqueline Leonard, Clive Russell, Henry Garrett and Honeysuckle Weeks, as well as Nicol and Lee. Shooting took place in Texas and Scotland in 2009, after several false starts and funding problems, and Hardy has unveiled footage here and there at festivals, but there's still no official release date. Fingers crossed for sooner rather than later. We need to forget Nicolas Cage and the bees.
...And we've quoted this before, but it's worth repeating. Here's Hardy discussing Cowboys For Christ with The Guardian in 2007:
"There is a tradition among ten or fifteen little towns on the borders in Scotland... where once a year, usually around the summer solstice, they elect a young man - the brightest and the best-looking, and the cleverest, I suppose - and he appears in the centre of the town on his horse, with outriders, and he's had a lovely party the evening before with all the prettiest girls, and he then rides out of town, and everyone who has a horse or a pony or a carthorse rides after him. [What happens next?] Well, that's the point. What they do is they have a lovely picnic. Not so in my book..."