On Sunday, April 29, 1973, Sergeant Neil Howie with the West Highland Constabulary flies solo to Summerisle off the coast of Scotland. He is there to follow up on a letter addressed specifically to him from an anonymous source on Summerisle reporting that a twelve year old girl who lives on the island, Rowan Morrison, the daughter of May Morrison, has long been missing. The correspondence includes a photograph of Rowan. Upon his arrival on Summerisle, Howie finds that the locals are a seemingly simple minded lot who provide little information beyond the fact that they know of no Rowan Morrison and do not know the girl in the photo. Mrs. Morrison admits to having a daughter, seven year old Myrtle, but no Rowan. As Howie speaks to more and more people, he begins to believe that Rowan does or did live on the island, but that the locals are hiding their knowledge of her. He also begins to see that the locals all have pagan beliefs, their "religion" which centers on procreation as the ...Written by
[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 »
Originally released at 87 minutes. Later a complete director's cut was discovered and re-released: this verson is 102 minutes long and features new footage showing Sergeant Howie as a preacher, some erotic scenes and Lord Summerisle reading a poem. See more »
Creative, entertaining and tragic. A beautiful picture.
The Wicker Man' follows the story of Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward) who travels to the Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. However, the entire population of the island, including the girl's own mother (Irene Summers), denies that such a girl ever existed and as the righteous Howie investigates further he learns the terrifying truth of Summerisle.
Famed for an exceptional yet short performance from the legendary Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, The Wicker Man' is a textbook example of how to create a virtually seamless horror/thriller. Director Robin Hardy at one point thought this low-budget movie would never be made as he was forced to work with a very small budget, a short shooting schedule and a studio on the verge of bankruptcy that was in fact declared bankrupt just a few short months after filming was completed. However, The Wicker Man' was made and nowadays is accepted as one of the finest horror/thrillers of all-time despite not receiving the praise it so deserved back in the Seventies. The Wicker Man' was brilliantly written by Anthony Shaffer who chose to add very subtle clues as to what would happen that are made more apparent on further viewings. With the added advantage of obvious research into the pagan rituals The Wicker Man' sought to portray the movie is left with a chilling feel of realism.
An enchanting soundtrack is blended marvellously into The Wicker Man' which seems to lull the viewer into a false sense of security. Despite the constant foreboding feeling created by the intricate plot and top notch acting, there is a certain playful feeling that is brought about by the elegant soundtrack making it difficult to actually envisage any evil events occuring. One could be forgiven for wondering on a first viewing just where this bizarre little movie is going but the story has a quality about it that can grab the viewer and keep their interest all the way to the bitter and awfully haunting ending. The final scene as the credits roll is an image that is now engrained on my mind with all its emptiness and despair. As the curtain falls on this performance (so to speak) it becomes hard not to question the events leading up to the end and the humanity of these islanders. In some ways The Wicker Man' is an unsettling history lesson that makes itself seem all too real.
Edward Woodward gives a tremendous performance as the increasingly baffled Sgt. Howie. He played his character convincingly and Howie's eventual realisation of what is going on around him is portrayed so well that it adds more realism to the movie. Woodward was able to take a character that may be a figure of loathing in another type of horror movie and make the audience feel empathy towards him. The strong religious beliefs within Howie thoroughly clash with the free-loving pagan society which adds humour and distress at the same time. However, as mentioned before, Christopher Lee somehow stole the show playing the relatively small part of Lord Summerisle. His magnificent onscreen presence seems so powerful that one forgets that he is only in the movie for a short amount of time. Added to this great mix was Britt Ekland as Willow, the beautiful landlord's daughter. Her seductive, nude dance (though a double was apparently used in parts) was one of the most erotic moments in horror and helped to contribute further realism to the movie. The scenes featuring the clashing characters of Howie and Willow are both amusing and tense making for some interesting character interaction.
The Wicker Man' is undoubtedly a cult classic of the horror genre which I recommend to all fans of horror/thrillers. Visually pleasing with some superb acting and direction as well as a fine screenplay. My rating for The Wicker Man' 9/10.
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