A cult horror classic, The Wicker Man was described by Variety as “one of the most unusual films to come out of Britain in years.”
The story is set in the Scottish Isles, where strait-laced Christian and virginal mainland police sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is posted an anonymous letter from the island of Summerisle alleging a number of irregularities about the disappearance of a young girl.
When he investigates, he comes up against the mysterious Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) and the rampant pagan sensuality of the islanders, particularly that of Willow (Britt Ekland). Determined to get to the bottom of the matter, Woodward’s investigations begin to unearth a sinister and ultimately evil foundation to the island’s community that leads to human sacrifice and tragedy.
As a work of fiction, the film has been absorbed into the symbolism and ritual of modern-day pagan rites although such figures as the wicker man and the green man have their root in Britain’s past, in particular among Celtic lore.
The less said about the very ill judged Nicolas Cage remake the better.
Robin Hardy rather surprisingly returned to the subject for a 2011 semi-sequel called The Wicker Tree. Unfortunately it came and went without anyone really noticing.
UK / British Lion / 88 minutes / 1973
Director: Robin Hardy
Writer: Anthony Shaffer
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 MacGreagor
Russell Waters as Harbour Master
Aubrey Morris as Old Gardener / Gravedigger
Irene Sunters as May Morrison
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
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