“That is good, for believing what you do, we confer upon you a rare gift these days- a martyrs death. You will not only have life eternal, but you will sit with the saints among the elect. Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.” I watched the Wicker man as a small child and was affected deeply. This is an unflinching story about what can happen when modern people go back to their pre-christian pagan roots.
A young girl named Rowan has gone missing on the island of Summerisle. Police investigator Seargent Howie has received an anonymous letter regarding her dissapearance and has traveled to the island to try and locate her. Howie is a fundamentalist Christian and is very upset when he comes to realize the inhabitants of the island have embraced the sexualized Pagan practices of their ancestors. As Howie travels around the island looking for Rowan it becomes apparent that the inhabitants are trying to prevent him from finding the girl. Ultimately it turns out that the entire thing was a trap. Rowan is perfectly fine and the plan all along was to trick Howie into becoming a worthy sacrifice for the Wicker man. The inhabitants of the island believe that killing a virginal follower of the Christian God will help bring a Bountiful Harvest. At the end of the film The inspector is burned alive in a giant ceremonial wicker man.
What I enjoy most about this movie is the fact that I’m not really sure whose side the writer is on. Howie is portrayed as extremely stubborn, intolerant and very unlikable as our Christian fundamentalist protagonist. At the same time the people on summer Isle are not only openly erotic around children but they literally plotted and carried out an entire scheme to commit human sacrifice. Maybe the point of the film is that there are messed up aspects to every religion. With Christianity you have the constant denial of pleasure and human sexuality, but with unchecked paganism you can end up with things being too sexually open, particularly where children are involved, that and there’s the whole Human Sacrifice thing. I know a lot of modern pagans like to pretend this wasn’t a thing in the past but…
Robin Hardy did an excellent job as the Director. Fertility comes across in many of the visuals in the film, especially one rather erotic scene where an inhabitant of the island tries to seduce the inspector. The soundtrack is the kind of music your hippy Aunt would play on a road trip to Burning Man, some people will love it and others will want to toss it out the window.
Apparently the studio cut a lot of material out of the film, including the original ending. I’m alright with the current ending, it’s horrifying and very memorable. Still, if I had the chance to purchase the directors cut of “The Wicker Man” on Blu-ray I would certainly shell out the cash. I love this movie and would highly recommend it to anybody who’s a fan of paganism, witchcraft or well-made horror films from the 1970s. As a side note don’t watch the remake with Nicolas Cage. I know it has a reputation for being so-bad-it’s-good but honestly you would be better off watching a clip reel of the best parts on YouTube.- Zwahk (Image from IMDb.com)