The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Directed by Robin Hardy

Cult Film

We all know that remakes can be diabolical, and the second The Wicker Man, from 2003, was exactly that. It features the best of the worst Nicolas Cage, including some downright terrible acting and strutting his swag in a bear suit. However, the original film is of a much higher calibre, and appeals to movie buffs and casuals alike.

Based on the novel Ritual by David Pinner (1967), Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) is sent to a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. He encounters a pagan community that enjoys naked dancing around the maypole, sex in fields and harvesting orchards rather … fruitlessly.

Sergeant Howie meets the Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) who sports a not-to-be-missed wonderful tweed jacket, turtleneck and bob haircut combination. Howie, a devout Christian, expresses his concerns at the lack of Christian morality on the island and quickly realises that all is not well. The search for the missing girl continues with our faithful Sergeant uncovering more and more disturbing scenes.

This film is an excellent exploration of the occult and conflicts of faith. The islanders believe in a plethora of different gods and rely on their blessing for a good harvest. Howie is exasperated by their efforts to grow fruit on an unsuitably craggy island yet they religiously continue. The atmosphere is quaint and at odds with the ominous undertones rumbling away, and the respective strong faiths of each party lead them to do things they would rather not.

Overall, The Wicker Man is a classic in all senses of the word. It manages to disturb yet keep the audience engaged in the twists and turns that challenge them to not ignore what is right in front of their noses. A strong performance from the cast and a curious soundtrack makes it a must-watch if you enjoy horror films without splatter or generous amounts of CGI. And there is always the remake that was so bad that the original film’s crew disown it.
This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2014.
Posted 4:50pm Sunday 6th April 2014 by Tim Lindsay.