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The Wicker Man (1973)

 -  Horror | Mystery | Thriller  -  June 1975 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 36,583 users  
Reviews: 418 user | 213 critic

A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there.

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Title: The Wicker Man (1973)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Lindsay Kemp ...
Russell Waters ...
...
Irene Sunters ...
May Morrison (as Irene Sunter)
Walter Carr ...
Ian Campbell ...
Oak
Leslie Blackater ...
Hairdresser
Roy Boyd ...
Peter Brewis ...
Musician
Barbara Rafferty ...
Woman with Baby (as Barbara Ann Brown)
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Storyline

Sgt. Howie travels to Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. He discovers that the locals are weird and unhelpful, and becomes determined to get to the bottom of the disappearance. Written by Sean Taylor <st52@cornell.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

...A totally corrupt shocker from the author of "Sleuth" and "Frenzy"! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

June 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wicker Man  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$5,493 (USA) (27 September 2013)

Gross:

$60,891 (USA) (10 January 2014)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (final cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Anthony Shaffer:  (Screenwriter) was present during the filming of the final scenes and is said to be among the villagers. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Howie questions the Doctor about Rowan Morrison's death certificate, the Doctor is seen to open his front door and step partly inside. The shot cuts away, and when it cuts back to the Doctor his front door is shut. He opens it again and goes in. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sergeant Howie: [yelling] Will you send a dinghy, please?
See more »

Crazy Credits

[Short Version only] A message from the producers thanks "The Lord Summerisle and the people of his island" for co-operating in the making of the film. This is despite both the lord and the island being totally fictitious. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cannibal Holocaust (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Willows Song
Written by Paul Giovanni
Performed by Annie Ross
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A cult film about cult practices...
19 September 2003 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland) – See all my reviews

The best British horror film ever made? Probably, yes. The best horror film ever made? No. The best occult thriller ever? Quite possibly.

The film was in part conceived as a vehicle for Christopher Lee to get away from his Hammer roles and give him a chance to demonstrate that, yes, he could actually act. Perversely, however, the film is in many ways homage to the films produced by the Hammer studio and is at the same time their antithesis.

Although Lee's Lord Summerisle was certainly a stronger character than his Hammer caricatures, and was suitably sincere and sinister, it was left to Edward Woodward's bumbling, pious Highland Police Sergeant to carry the film.

The rest of the cast are not as strong as the two central characters. Famously, it was always suggested that Britt Ekland's voice was overdubbed for the entire film. Robin Hardy has now denied that, stating that only her singing was dubbed. Even if the other actors' performances fail to match those of Woodward and Lee, somehow, it doesn't detract from the film.

Almost as famous as The Wicker Man itself are the stories surrounding the film. The version first released was almost completely butchered from an original, almost grandiose cut of 102 minutes to a more concise 87. Christopher Lee has always maintained that this was a crime against the greatest piece of art with which he had ever been involved. The original negatives were then accidentally thrown out!

When a fuller version finally surfaced in 2001, Lee's contentions were (at least in part) proved. The film was overall improved, and save for a couple of points of rather clumsy editing (the flashbacks Edward Woodward has as the penny drops spring to mind) and the pointless scenes before the flight to the island, it ran more smoothly and made more sense.

The film's greatest asset comes through in whichever version you actually see. The eerie sinister atmosphere never fails to be conveyed. Somehow, the fictitious Scottish island setting of Summerisle, which could so easily turn twee at any moment steers clear of the territory occupied by Brigadoon or the now happily deceased BBC TV drama 'Monarch of the Glen'.

The setting's remoteness, which could have been its worst enemy, is actually its greatest ally.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film, however, is the way that it steadfastly refuses to fit precisely into any genre. It is all at once a horror, a thriller and even a musical! Unbelievably, these things come together and fit into the film.

The music in The Wicker Man is unique, always adding just the right tone of eeriness or bawdiness to proceedings. A strange mix of elements including traditional folk music, it's as innovative and interesting as the soundtracks to Blade Runner, or The Virgin Suicides. The opening title sequence to the tune of Corn Rigs succeeds in transporting you with the plane over the remote coastal peninsulas and out into the Irish Sea towards Summerisle.

My only criticism of the film (and I really am nitpicking here) is the way it goes about establishing Sergeant Howie's Christianity. I can't conceive of the Howie character adhering to any religion other than one of the obscure forms of Presbyterian Protestantism practised in parts of the Highlands of Scotland. These scenes contain an apparent reverence for the sacraments that appears more Catholic in nature. This distinction in religious backgrounds is important to understanding Howie's attitudes. Nevertheless, I am truly nitpicking when I make this criticism!

But what ultimately makes this film is its ending. Without giving the game away for those who have not yet seen the film, it is inevitable, and yet wholly unexpected when it finally comes.

The Wicker Man would be a classic of its genre - if it had a genre. Instead, it has to be ranked as a classic film.


136 of 160 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The ending... Brakko
The Original Cut Has Been Found! summerislefan
is this crucial scene in the 'Final Cut'? barryleeward
Green Man Inn ganglehog
What Howie says at the end---is it from the Bible? farmerne
Standard or Final Cut igorleoni22
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