7.6/10
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472 user 198 critic

The Wicker Man (1973)

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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.

Director:

Robin Hardy

Writer:

Anthony Shaffer (screenplay)
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Popularity
2,622 ( 447)
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Woodward ... Sergeant Howie
Christopher Lee ... Lord Summerisle
Diane Cilento ... Miss Rose
Britt Ekland ... Willow
Ingrid Pitt ... Librarian
Lindsay Kemp Lindsay Kemp ... Alder MacGreagor
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... Harbour Master
Aubrey Morris ... Old Gardener / Gravedigger
Irene Sunters Irene Sunters ... May Morrison (as Irene Sunter)
Walter Carr ... School Master
Ian Campbell Ian Campbell ... Oak
Leslie Blackater Leslie Blackater ... Hairdresser
Roy Boyd Roy Boyd ... Broome
Peter Brewis Peter Brewis ... Musician
Barbara Rafferty Barbara Rafferty ... Woman with Baby (as Barbara Ann Brown)
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From the writer of 'Frenzy & Sleuth' Anthony Shaffer's incredible occult thriller See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 August 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El culto siniestro See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,493, 29 September 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$60,891, 10 January 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (final cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Rowan was played by Gerry Cowper it is her twin sister Jackie Cowper whose photograph is handed around by Howie, and in fact during the chase through the caves Jackie appeared in a couple of shots instead of Gerry. See more »

Goofs

While Sgt Howie is at the chemist shop he shows Lennox (who is mixing something with a mortar and pestle) a photo of the missing girl. Notice how in between shots the photo goes from Howie's hand into Lennox's hand, without having been handed over. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sergeant Howie: [yelling] Will you send a dinghy, please?
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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 8 Out of 10 Cats: Episode #1.3 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Landlord's Daughter
(uncredited)
Written by Paul Giovanni
Performed by Roy Boyd, John McGregor, Ian Campbell, Walter Carr, John Young, Donald Eccles, Lindsay Kemp, Russell Waters and chorus
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Poorly paced but worthy seeing for the ending
14 November 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Drawn to a small Scottish Island by a letter pleading for help in finding a kidnapped girl, Sergeant Neil Howie realises that things are very different from life on the mainland. He begins to suspect that Rowan's disappearance may be part of a ritual to appease the nature gods worshipped on the island.

Well known now as one of the best British horror cult movies (one critic called it `the Citizen Kane of British horror') this film still stands today as new generations discover it's ending and fall in love with that. Sadly, most people know the ending before they have actually seen the film, which, in my mind, greatly takes away from the film's impact. For that reason I will make no mention of the ending's detail suffice to say that it works very well and actually raises the rest of the film.

The main body of the film sees Howie hunting for the missing girl and finding that things are not as simply as he originally thinks. The film comes across as a sort of spiritual musical for the most part and doesn't really bring out the tension or suspicions until near the end. The downside of this is that parts of the film appear slightly dull or meandering. I did get a little tired with the overuse of naturalist religious images but I accept that they were necessary for the story to be built.

The cast are very good. Lee was happy to do a film that brought him away from the camp Hammer horror mould into which he had been set. His Lord Summerisle is an image of cold, religious zealotry – terrifying in his portrayal of evil as part of `the right thing'. Woodward is also cast against type as he was a harder man in much of his work rather than a pure upright type. Ekland is good but is dubbed the whole way through the film to give her a Scottish accent in place of her own distinctive Swedish one. Of the cast it is Lee and Woodard who carry the film – their scenes together work well and they also carry the opposing moral weights of the story.

Overall this is a film that has had a reputation built on it's ending, and for that it is well deserved. However for the majority of the film the pacing is a little off and I felt that the songs slowed the film down too much. Overall the film works due to it's set-up and payoff, however it's delivery as a total film is not as good as it's reputation would have you believe.


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