Directed by Robin Hardy
Written by Anthony Shaffer
Starring Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward,
Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, and Diane Cilento
Running time 87 minutes
If you are looking for a film that will entice, intrigue, and remind you of how great old films can be you need look no farther than this one. The Wicker Man is currently celebrating its 40 yr anniversary (41st as of Dec of this year), and in rewatching it recently I was shocked at how well the film really does still hold up. It is a beautiful and important film in British film history that needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.
The story follows Sgt. Howie as he travels to the Summerisle to search for a young local girl, Rowan, who has gone missing. Upon arriving at the isle we realize that the locals are preparing for a celebration of sorts, complete with Maypoles, old world pagan music and costumes of the most unsettling of natures. Problems begin to arise almost immediately for our dear Sgt. Howie, as the facts don't add up, nor does anyone truly seem to be all that concerned about finding young Rowan. He is personally disgusted and conflicted by the inhabitants of the island and their old world Pagan practices, which go directly against his very devout Christian beliefs. Those aren't the only dilemmas Sgt Howie faces while submersed in this very foreign environment, there is also the very sexy and inviting Willow (Britt Ekland), daughter of the tavern owner/inn keeper that he finds himself staying at. She is the human embodiment of the fertility and lushness of the isle, placing some very unclean thoughts in our chaste, devout Sgt.
When Sgt Howie can find little in the way of help from the locals he turns to Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), who is the latest in a line of ancestors to oversee, govern the isle, and its inhabitants. He gives poor Sgt Howie, a history lesson on the isle and some of their more "concerning" of practices, but will any of this help the Sgt find Rowan? How can he, a man alone, devout in his beliefs, sway these heathens to see the light? Will his fears come to fruition, is poor Rowan to be an unwilling sacrifice to some strange pagan God, or is something even more sinister awaiting???
If you haven't seen this one you just have no idea what you are missing, it is as brilliant now as when it first came out almost 41 years ago, and it has stood the test of time beautifully! Hell I wish I still looked so fresh lol! Yes the styles date the film but everything else is still so incredible. The film is stunning to see with its lush back drop, use of symbolic imagery, and color schemes. The acting is intense, and driving, as much so as the incredible soundtrack that features an actual folk song for the 1300's. The music pulses with dramatic drum beats and rhythms that sweep you up, just as they do Willow (Britt Ekland) in her famous dance scene! Christopher Lee is such a strong presence in this film and still considers it to be one of his best movies ever, which in itself says so much. Edward Woodward (Sgt Howie) is fantastic as the devout chaste man, one minded in his search, but yet drawn in ways to Willow that you see terrify and disgust him. And of course theres is the lovely Britt, who truly does embody fertility and abundance of the pagan practices she is portraying!
It is one of a handful of films that fall into the category of Folk Horror, and I have to say I love the sub genre. They play on the fears we and practices and fears of generation past. The kind of thing that makes for great stories told around the campfire, or translate to creepy, interesting films. The Wicker Man is a film that begs to be seen! It is a reminder of how fantastic a cinematic past we have to revisit, and share with the generations that have come after ours. It was ahead of its time then and still today remains a bit controversial for some with the strong sexual, and religious tones, so if you are sensitive to those (ummm then what are you doing here lol) it may offend, but for everyone else take a look back with us this week and revisit a classic, seminal horror work in THE WICKER MAN!