booksmusicfilmsTV.com/Peace & Freedom Press Classic Film Reviews

THE WICKER MAN
(1973)

A film to put off people visiting remote areas of Scotland for life...

'The Wicker Man' came out of an idea from a novel called 'Ritual' by David Pinner, though the film's director, Robin Hardy (whose first feature film this was, amazingly), and writer Anthony Shaffer worked out a pretty original script and plot.

Edward Woodward plays the central character, Sergeant Neil Howie, blindingly well, and we see the hapless policeman making the fatal mistake of trying to bring some order to a part of Scotland that time forgot.

Set on a remote isle off the west coast of Scotland, the film begins with Sergeant Howie flying in to investigate the disappearance of a girl called Rowan Morrison.

Howie comes up against an evasive schoolteacher in the shape of Miss Rose (Diane Cilento), a prevaricating librarian (!) Ingrid Pitt, and a liberated Christopher Lee, who sports some particularly stylish sideburns and wild hair as Lord Summerisle, and seems nice (if a little weird) to begin with, but they always do, don't they?

Sergeant Howie isn't used to naked young women cavorting around, and doesn't like it. He sees himself as civilized and superior. In this film you get to see an awful lot of (an obviously dubbed) Britt Ekland (Willow), a topless young woman in a tub, and a fair bit of naked females dancing, including Ms. Ekland. Christopher Lee said it was "the best part I've ever had. Unquestionably." I wonder why...Though, to be fair, he did say that it was the "best scripted" film he had ever appeared in, and, in truth, this was a film where nudity was integral to the plot.

Anyway, Summerisle isn't a great place to be for a puritanical, middle-aged, maybe virgin, Christian copper, and though Howie tries to leave, his plane, unsurprisingly, has a problem.

Poor Howie is ultimately tricked in the cruellest and most unexpected of ways, and he can't be allowed to leave and tell tales. His end is about as nasty as it gets. He is physically restrained by the quiet and very sinister bearded henchman of Lord Summerisle, and is surrounded by Ms. Ekland, Ms. Pitt, and Ms. Cilento, stripped naked, and dressed in a white sacrificial robe. When he looks up and sees the giant wicker cage, and he realises he might be going in it, his expression of sheer terror is a terrifying piece of film.

This is a very disturbing film, but not in the the gratuitous way of many modern movies. This is a film which makes one think, and is horror as high art. The music by Paul Giovanni is wonderfully evocative, and the authenticity of the normal Scottish way of life is well conveyed, which makes the dark aspects more unexpected and disturbing.

- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.

The Wicker Man Main Cast List
Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie
Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle
Diane Cilento as Miss Rose
Britt Ekland as Willow
Ingrid Pitt as Librarian
Lindsay Kemp as Alder MacGregor
Russell Waters as Harbour Master
Aubrey Morris as Old Gardener/Gravedigger
Irene Sunters as May Morrison (also as Irene Sunter)
Walter Carr as School Master
Ian Campbell as Oak
Leslie Blackater as Hairdresser
Roy Boyd as Broome
Peter Brewis as Musician
Barbara Rafferty as Woman with Baby (as Barbara Ann Brown)
Juliet Cadzow as Villager on Summerisle (as Juliette Cadzow)
Ross Campbell as Communicant
Penny Cluer as Gillie
Michael Cole as Musician
Kevin Collins as Old Fisherman
Geraldine Cowper as Rowan Morrison
Ian Cutler as Musician
Donald Eccles as T.H. Lennox
Myra Forsyth as Mrs. Grimmond
John Hallam as P.C. McTaggert
Alison Hughes as Fiancée to Howie
Charles Kearney as Butcher
Fiona Kennedy as Holly
John MacGregor as Baker
Jimmy MacKenzie as Briar
Lesley Mackie as Daisy
Jennifer Martin as Myrtle Morrison
Bernard Murray as Musician
Helen Norman as Villager on Summerisle
Lorraine Peters as Girl on Grave
Tony Roper as Postman
John Sharp as Doctor Ewan
Elizabeth Sinclair as Villager on Summerisle
Andrew Tompkins as Musician
Ian Wilson as Communicant
Richard Wren as Ash Buchanan
John Young as Fishmonger

Directed by Robin Hardy

 

Amazon DVDs of the film

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'The Wicker Man (1973) - Special Edition Director's Cut DVD' The Wicker Man - Special Edition Director's Cut
Product image for ASIN: B000FUF6QS The Wicker Man
Product image for ASIN: B000HEVTCW The Wicker Man
Product image for ASIN: B000JVT1U0 The Wicker Man

 

 

 

Amazon Videos of the film

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Product image for ASIN: B00004CYAO The Wicker Man
Product image for ASIN: 6303149200 Wicker Man

 

Amazon Original Soundtrack CDs of the film

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Product image for ASIN: B00006C2OG The Wicker Man
Product image for ASIN: B00006GOF7 Wicker Man

 

Amazon Books relevant to this film

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Product image for ASIN: 1905222181 The Quest for the Wicker Man
Author: Lesley Stevenson

The Quest for the Wicker Man
Author: Jonathan Murray

Product image for ASIN: 033039018X The Wicker Man
Author: Anthony Shaffer

The Wicker Man
Author: Anthony Shaffer

Product image for ASIN: 0283063556 Inside the "Wicker Man"
Author: Allan Brown
Product image for ASIN: 0283063556 Inside the "Wicker Man"
Author: Allan Browne
Product image for ASIN: 0330368060 Wicker Man
Author: Allan Frewin Jones
Product image for ASIN: 0330368060 The Wicker Man
Author: Allan Frewin Jones

The Wicker Man
Author: Robin Hardy

 

 

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