Monday, 9 January 2012

The Wicker Man (1973) Review

Film Poster
The Wicker Man is a thriller, horror film made in 1974 directed by Robin Hardy and stars Edward Woodward as Sgt Howie who goes on to investigate the disappearance of Rowan Morrison on Summerisle, a remote island famed for its popular fruit produce along with its weird and unhelpful residents causing Howie more determined in getting the case solved.
The Wicker Man with animals locked inside ready for sacrifice
Set in an island near Scotland, the film focuses on the faiths and beliefs of the inhabitants set in an enclosed area where no other outside contact can be made. The belief that is unfamiliar to the audience and the central character consists of some Pre-Christian, Pagan and the circle of life. This creates mystery in the film as everything looks normal to the central character and to the audience but when it comes to May Day, the residents of the island practise the religion either with naked virgin woman jumping over fires or performing an “animal” parade to sacrifice living things trapped inside a “Wicker Man” to please and give thanks to their God to help with the island’s food produce. “The pagan imagery, of hobby horses, maypoles, the "Green Man" pub and Mr. Punch, are all instantly recognisable as existing in our everyday lives, and particularly our childhoods (for some reason they have residual unnerving qualities, a bit like clowns), but screenwriter Peter Schaffer's depiction of these elements as part of a living religion based upon fertility and sensuality, as opposed to the repression of Christianity, is the engine of the movie and it is doubly appropriate that a repressed nation should make repression one of the subjects of its best horror movie.” (Smith, 2003).
The May Day parade, for the animal and Howie's sacrifice
The film adds to the mystery of its unfamiliar religion using women as the “carrier of nature” which involves burning skin as a sacrifice for the birth of the baby in the woman as well as the males being the circle of life which when a male dies, they become part of the earth and incarnate as trees before being part of the air the humans breathe.“For a "modern" policeman like Howie, it's impossible to penetrate the images of unsaved savages to discern the cohesive strengths of the community. The inhabitants of Summerisle are happy to cavort naked through the trees, close to nature and in line with the gods which rule their lives, far removed from Howie's constricted religion” (Cannon, 1997). Being close to the “old Gods” which were thought to help with the development of produce and growth could lead to one’s healthy lifestyle. The residents and Lord Summerisle had managed to successfully lure Howie onto the island due to the conflicts of beliefs that Howie has to live and or follow which sexuality is heavy on the island, “unclothed maidens photographed through a soft-core haze, and an extraordinary erotic dance from Britt Ekland, body-doubled for the more candid bottom-wiggling. But there is genuine fear in its nightmarish tableaux: the breast-feeding woman holding an egg in the ruined churchyard is like a detail from Hieronymus Bosch” (Bradshaw, 2007).
List of Illustrations

Hardy, R (1973) Film Poster (online): – (accessed on 19/12/2011)

TB, D (2011) The Wicker Man with animals locked inside ready for sacrifice (online): – (accessed on 19/12/2011)

Buckle, A (2011) The May Day parade, for the animal and Howie's sacifice (online): – (accessed on 19/12/2011)


Smith, A (2003) EMPIRE ESSAY: The Wicker Man (online): – (accessed on 19/12/2011)

Cannon, D (1997) The Wicker Man (1973) (online): – (accessed on 19/12/2011)

Bradshaw, P (2007) The Wicker Man (online): – (accessed on 19/12/2011)

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