The "evil eye" rowing boat, which takes Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) to and from his plane, was not constructed for this movie. It belonged to a resident of Plockton. Upon seeing it, the producers decided it would suit the movie. The boat survived until 2004 when it was destroyed in a storm.
206 of 206 found this interesting Interesting? |
Sir Christopher Lee said that he considers this to be one of his greatest ever roles.
321 of 324 found this interesting Interesting? |
Many years after making the film Edward Woodward re-visited some of the locations and claimed that he found the makeshift cross (that Howie makes out of some pieces of wood) still intact where it was left in the original scene.
244 of 246 found this interesting Interesting? |
Director Robin Hardy explained the meaning of the scene with the woman with an egg in her hand nursing a baby while sitting in a graveyard to Alan Cumming in Scotland on Screen (2009). According to Hardy, it is a fertility ritual and she was hoping for another baby.
115 of 115 found this interesting Interesting? |
Sir Christopher Lee paid for his own press tour out of pocket, and hit every stop willing to interview him about the movie. According to rumor, some farmers in Iowa were surprised to see him on live, early morning public access shows.
149 of 150 found this interesting Interesting? |
Screenwriter Anthony Shaffer wanted this movie to be "a little more literate" than the average horror movie. He specifically wanted a movie with a minimum of violence and gore. He was tired of seeing horror movies that relied almost entirely on viscera to be scary. The focus of this movie was crystallized when he "finally hit upon the abstract concept of sacrifice."
100 of 100 found this interesting Interesting? |
Filmed in 1972 in Galloway, Scotland, and there was some controversy when Britt Ekland labelled it as the "bleakest place on Earth". The producers were forced to apologize to the locals.
160 of 162 found this interesting Interesting? |
Most of the Summerisle residents are named after trees, flowers, and plants.
120 of 121 found this interesting Interesting? |
The negative and the outtakes of this movie were stored in the vault at Shepperton Studios. After the company was purchased by new owners, they ordered the vault to be cleared of all old material. The vault manager accidentally put the negatives, which just arrived from the lab, with the ones that were to be destroyed.
112 of 113 found this interesting Interesting? |
The lyrics for the popular song "Corn Rigs Are Bonnie" in this movie was written by Robert Burns in 1775. The music was written especially for this movie.
135 of 137 found this interesting Interesting? |
The current version available in the U.S. and U.K. is still incomplete, despite its "Director's Cut" status. Still missing is a lengthy speech made by Lord Summerisle (Sir Christopher Lee) on apples.
177 of 181 found this interesting Interesting? |
As filming occurred between October and November, there were no trees in blossom. The trees in the scenes with the pregnant women had to be brought in and were all handmade. Edward Woodward admitted one of the memories of filming that stuck out in his mind was watching the trees being brought in on the back of a truck as he had never seen anything like it.
95 of 97 found this interesting Interesting? |
Willow's dance scene took thirteen hours to shoot.
73 of 74 found this interesting Interesting? |
Despite being set in the Hebrides, which were still largely Gaelic-speaking in the 1960s, very little Gaelic appears in this movie. Additionally, some of the folk customs alluded to are English rather than Scottish, let alone Highland.
133 of 137 found this interesting Interesting? |
It is rumored that the original negative of the full-length version was used as landfill in the construction of the M3 motorway in England. Sir Christopher Lee said that this was apparently done on purpose, because of Michael Deeley's dislike of this movie.
91 of 93 found this interesting Interesting? |
Lord Summerisle's (Sir Christopher Lee's) speech beginning with "I think I could turn and live with the animals" was based on a poem by Walt Whitman.
103 of 106 found this interesting Interesting? |
Rod Stewart launched an attempt to block the release when he learned that his then-girlfriend Britt Ekland appeared naked in the movie.
132 of 137 found this interesting Interesting? |
Although the film is set in Scottish territory and all of the characters are meant to be of Scottish nationality, none of the leading cast are Scottish: Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward were English, Diane Cilento was Australian, Ingrid Pitt was Polish and Britt Ekland is Swedish.
115 of 119 found this interesting Interesting? |
Although Rowan was played by Gerry Cowper, it is her twin sister Jackie Cowper whose photograph is handed around by Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), and in fact during the chase through the caves, Jackie appeared in a couple of shots instead of Gerry.
97 of 100 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to director Robin Hardy, while this movie was largely filmed in Scotland, the aerial shots from the plane arriving were filmed in South Africa, because they didn't have the budget to glue blossom to that many trees.
41 of 41 found this interesting Interesting? |
The girls in the classroom are supposed to be around age twelve, but Lesley Mackie (Daisy) was twenty-one at the time.
60 of 61 found this interesting Interesting? |
108 of 112 found this interesting Interesting? |
In the Directors Cut, there is a scene in which we see Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) and P.C. McTaggart (John Hallam) in their police car, that was filmed in a garage. The illusion of passing cars was created by two crew members waving flashlights past their windshield.
74 of 76 found this interesting Interesting? |
On his website, Ian Cutler (one of the musicians in this movie) writes: "The film has been badly cut over the years and Ian remembers doing scenes that have never appeared in any version of the film. One such scene is the 'Dream' sequence which Ian can remember parts of quite clearly. He believes that this was filmed when Sgt Howie is sleeping, while the Hand of Glory burns. During the dream, which is a kaleidoscope of images, a huge egg-shaped stone is revolving faster and faster. Also the woman in the churchyard who is feeding the baby has the egg in her hand and crushes it. All very symbolic stuff. This scene has never been mentioned anywhere to my knowledge. Has anyone out there ever heard of it?" Musical Arranger Gary Carpenter remembers similarly: "I have a vivid memory of having to score a phenomenally complex dream sequence for Howie, which was like post-scoring an animation, it was so intricate. The fades and dissolves and extensive use of library footage for this sequence seriously dented the budget. Despite Robin Hardy's enthusiasm for it and its inclusion in what I assumed at the time to be 'The Director's Cut', I have never seen reference made to it again and it is in no existing version of the film."
70 of 72 found this interesting Interesting? |
Britt Ekland was pregnant with her son Nic Adler while filming, and would only agree to shoot her nude scenes from the waist up. A body double (Lorraine Peters) was secretly used for the rear full body shots of Willow dancing. The scenes were filmed after she had left the set. When shooting was over Ekland was furious to learn she had been doubled in those shots but director Robin Hardy said it was Ekland who did not want her bottom to be filmed, as she did not like it. To this day, whenever she is approached by fans to autograph still photos of the fully nude scene, she always refuses, because, as she continually points out, it is not her.
148 of 156 found this interesting Interesting? |
Half a dozen of the fishermen in the harbor were played by locals from Plockton. They are Peter Geddes, Mundo Gillies (who also owned the "evil eye" boat), Kenny John Mackenzie, Johnny "Bogles" MacRae, and Tommy Ure (the latter was from Kyle).
35 of 35 found this interesting Interesting? |
It is said that the wife of an American television executive saw this movie and gave Edward Woodward his famous role in The Equalizer (1985).
74 of 77 found this interesting Interesting? |
The U.S. re-release was scheduled for November 1978, but after a real-life tragedy involving a cult with a charismatic, sinister leader in a remote location, it got pushed out to January.
61 of 64 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to Britt Ekland, some animals may have perished inside the burning Wicker Man. However, according to director Robin Hardy, the animals were not inside the Wicker Man when it was set alight (this scene was faked) and great care was taken that they were not in danger of being hurt.
97 of 104 found this interesting Interesting? |
In between takes of Britt Ekland's nude dance scene, she was covered with a towel, which Gary Carpenter had to remove every time they filmed. "It's the weirdest job I've ever had, but certainly not the most unpleasant."
69 of 74 found this interesting Interesting? |
The 1970s was a pretty crazy time in Britain, the swinging 60s had left quite an impact on the nation and the sexual repression was slowly lifting. It was at this time that film makers started to explore sexuality differently. Nudity on film had once been a source of scandal and provocation, but its growing use was being treated more naturally. The Wicker Man director Robin Hardy intended to explore this, creating a contemporary society that was pre-Christian and quite liberal when it came to sex. One of the reoccurring themes for the Summerisle residents, was a sexual freedom that resulted in a lot of nude cavorting and dancing. This was used to show the islanders strong connection to nature, alongside angering and provoking the films protagonist, a devout Christian called Sgt. Neil Howie (Played with great passion by Edward Woodwood), whose sexual repression was a mirror for Britain at the time.
21 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? |
Apples feature prominently in Celtic mythology, and may give their name to "Avalon", in Arthurian myth.
65 of 70 found this interesting Interesting? |
The film takes place from April 29 to May 1, 1973.
57 of 61 found this interesting Interesting? |
38 of 40 found this interesting Interesting? |
This movie was shot in twenty-five different locations.
36 of 38 found this interesting Interesting? |
Sir Christopher Lee offered Peter Cushing the lead role of Sergeant Howie. He turned it down due to scheduling conflicts.
60 of 66 found this interesting Interesting? |
Although this movie is set in late April-early May, it was filmed in October and November 1972.
47 of 51 found this interesting Interesting? |
There is actually a small archipelago in Scotland called "the Summer Isles" (Na h-Eileanan Samhraidh). However, this is apparently unconnected with this movie, at least consciously. Bermuda was also formerly known as "Somer's Isle".
40 of 43 found this interesting Interesting? |
During a break in the filming of the final scene, a member of the wardrobe department ran out to provide coats to the three leading actresses. Ingrid Pitt noticed that the extras gathered around them were not being given any protection from the freezing cold weather, and she decided, out of solidarity, that she didn't have to wear her coat.
71 of 79 found this interesting Interesting? |
In a 2008 interview director Robin Hardy said it wasn't Jane Jackson or Lorraine Peters (regardless of musical director Gary Carpenter's claim) who they filmed nude from the back during Britt Ekland's infamous naked dance scene (since Ekland appeared topless but didn't want to show her rear), it was a stripper he hired in Glasgow, Scotland that vaguely resembled Ekland. He said "We had to find someone rather quickly. The girl we found in a club was promised back the next day to the place she was performing. To my distress I discovered she was still with the crew, having a good time, two weeks later." Ekland said in an interview on BBC1's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross that that's the story she heard too: "I didn't want to show my bottom but I shot myself in the foot. They put in the ugliest, biggest bottom in the world. Mine was much smaller and much nicer. I recently found out it was a stripper from Glasgow." Ekland said she was less than pleased with her body double and wished she had felt confident enough to bare all. She confirmed that she was pregnant during the shoot with son Nicholai, but denied long-standing rumours that this was the real reason she refused to strip, claiming she did not know she was pregnant at the time.
25 of 26 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to Gary Carpenter, Paul Giovanni suggested that he and his band smoke dope to try and get into the mood. They just fell about laughing and were unable to play their instruments.
44 of 48 found this interesting Interesting? |
Cinematographer Harry Waxman was not director Robin Hardy's choice, and was forced upon the production by Black Lion. The reason was that the executive producers were concerned they would not be able to get the important final shot of The Wicker Man collapsing down in front of the setting sun, and that it would have to be shot using the greenscreen projection process in the studio. At that time, Waxman was one of the most experienced cameraman in the U.K. with this format (having used it extensively on The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)), among others and was brought in as insurance. Hardy was very unhappy about not being able to choose his own director of photography (and didn't like Waxman personally) and as a result, the two men did not get along, and disagreed frequently during shooting.
42 of 46 found this interesting Interesting? |
All of the songs in this movie (barring the location-shot "Tinker of Rye") were recorded, so it was to their surprise that the musicians found themselves summoned to attend filming and appear in shot.
41 of 45 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to legendary horror icon Ingrid Pitt, the weather was so cold as they shot the final scene that Edward Woodward used to warm his naked feet between her knees, although she comforted him by saying, "Don't worry, they're going to burn you in a minute!"
22 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? |
The later comedy horror police procedural film "Hot Fuzz", featuring Edward Woodward in the ensemble cast, includes some story parallels with "The Wicker Man."
38 of 42 found this interesting Interesting? |
Composer Gary Carpenter reminisced on his website about being on set for Britt Ekland's (Willow) infamous nude dance scene, including using a body double in portions of it without Ekland knowing: "Paul (Giovanni) felt it necessary [after a lot of pleading on my part!!!] that I be on the set for the now infamous shoot of Willow's Song, thumping a drum to keep her in time with the playback when she danced and helping out with the lip-synch when she 'sang'. The shoot was tiresome. A 13 hour day by my reckoning. One of my other little jobs (invented out of sheer boredom and hard to find in any job description) was whipping Britt's towel away (which she was using to cover herself) before each take. The much noted complications arose because of the need to covertly slide the (rear body double) in, which was usually preceded by make-up asking for a small adjustment that needed Britt off-set. Actually, all the subterfuge was hokum, really. The story at the time was that the day before the shoot, the publicist distributed a note to each room at the Kirroughtree Hotel announcing that a body-double was being used and that on no account should Ms Ekland be informed. Sadly, he did not exclude Britt's room! I can categorically affirm that Lorraine Peters was the body-double... As to Jane Jackson, who has it on record that she was filmed by a man in a sheepskin coat as the body double, I would venture to guess that her footage now resides safely in someone's private collection!"
20 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? |
When the film opened in the UK, it was relegated to the bottom half of a double bill with Don't Look Now (1973). The two movies share thematic similarities, most notably that both feature protagonists who believe that they are in pursuit of a missing child.
19 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to Ingrid Pitt in her 2008 Den of Geek column, Christopher Lee, who had made around three hundred films, still claimed that The Wicker Man was the best film he had ever appeared in.
19 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? |
Lord Summerisle's speech about living with animals is a paraphrase of a poem by Walt Whitman.
33 of 37 found this interesting Interesting? |
The music for this movie was recorded before filming took place.
26 of 29 found this interesting Interesting? |
The U.K. trailer has hardly any footage of Sir Christopher Lee, bar a couple of shots of half of his head.
34 of 39 found this interesting Interesting? |
Director Robin Hardy originally wanted Michael York for the role of Sergeant Howie. When it turned out he was unavailable, David Hemmings was considered before screenwriter Anthony Shaffer and producer Peter Snell recommended Edward Woodward, who had always been Snell's first choice to play the part.
40 of 47 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to a 2001 article on the U.K. site Independent, Britt Ekland turned her back on The Wicker Man, refusing for years even to talk about it. "People were not really nice to each other," she says now. "It was every man for himself. And if you cheat and lie to people, it creates ill feeling all around." The causes of Ekland's grievances are two-fold. The first is her anger over being "secretly" body-doubled during a naked dance sequence, with "a model with a big ass" being brought in to do the rear-view shots after she allowed the director to shoot her naked only from the waist up. Worse, Ekland claims that she was dubbed against her wishes. "I did a Scottish accent and they didn't like it, so they brought [jazz singer] Annie Ross into the studio and she dubbed my voice. It's the only time in my career that I have not used my own voice." (Intriguingly, although the voice on screen sounds nothing like Ekland's, editor Eric Boyd-Perkins insists that neither he nor his sound man dubbed anything more than a song, leaving an enigmatic question mark over the offending dialogue, which director Hardy is now inclined to think may be Ekland after all).
20 of 22 found this interesting Interesting? |
Due to the very small budget, most of the cast including Christopher Lee worked without pay.
15 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? |
New York City police detectives screened the film as part of their investigation into the Son of Sam murders. This was due to the killer making reference to the "Wicked King Wicker" in one of his letters, leading some to believe that there was a connection between the film and the murders.
15 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? |
In his book, "Inside The Wicker Man", author Allan Brown tells us: "There was one curious interlude: a local man, Jimmy Kirkpatrick, was approached by crew members to appear in a scene in which, dressed in a dinner jacket and acting at his wit's end, he walked across a bridge then jumped into the river fully clothed. The scene was abandoned the next day when weather conditions turned bad, and because the river was at half-tide at the scheduled time. It is difficult to explain what this scene represented, for who on Summerisle would be wearing evening dress? Certainly there is no reference to it in the script."
26 of 30 found this interesting Interesting? |
Not happy with the finished film, British Lion managing director Michael Deeley sent a print of The Wicker Man to movie legend Roger Corman in America, who made some vague suggestions for cuts, and then instructed Eric Boyd-Perkins to cut around 12 minutes from the film, enabling Deeley to release it as a supporting feature with Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now. Although some have alleged that The Wicker Man was cut to Corman's instructions, it was, in fact, Boyd-Perkins who figured out how to restructure the movie, shortening Howie's stay in Summerisle from two nights to one, and losing much "incidental" dialogue, thereby making Christopher Lee "extremely cross".
14 of 15 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to Sir Christopher Lee, Michael Deeley told him to his face that this was one of the ten worst movies he had ever seen. Lee added that Deeley didn't stand up when Lee's wife entered the room. Deeley denies saying this, but Lee insisted it happened. In his 2008 autobiography, "Blade Runners, Deer Hunters and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: My Life in Cult Movies", Deeley referred to Lee as "chief whiner", and said he had "paranoia".
29 of 34 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to Seamus Flannery in a subsequent documentary, director Robin Hardy surprised the cast by suddenly announcing midway through filming that they were making a "musical".
21 of 24 found this interesting Interesting? |
The standout song on the soundtrack was fully expected to be "Gentle Johnny", which was then notoriously cut from the finished print.
31 of 37 found this interesting Interesting? |
Among the Scottish locals who appeared in this film in uncredited bit roles are Rhoda Macleod (the girl who falls out of the closet; this scene was shot in Plockton), Betty Dickson (various crowd scenes and extra in hairdressing salon; her husband appears as an extra in the courtyard and her daughter participated in the Chop Chop scene), Andy Bays (Green Man Inn patron wearing red shirt), Mark Sunderland (Green Man Inn patron wearing gray sweater), Elizabeth McAdam-Laughland (extra in parade and courtyard), Jack Maltman (old guy villager wearing glasses standing behind Sgt. Howie on cliff), Annie Findlay (villager who looks out window when Sgt. Howie arrives), Martin Colerdige (man tending to garden), Sandra Macdonald (woman at spinning wheel), and David Graham (blond patron at Green Man Inn).
13 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? |
The nude scene with the girls at Stonehenge was shot with the actresses wearing body suits which are see-through. This is most apparent in the still photo where the bottom of the costumes are visible on those facing the camera.
13 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to music director Gary Carpenter, British Lion wanted this movie to be made quickly and cheaply, with students playing the music to save money. But the Royal College of Music blocked this, saying it would be too disruptive and time-consuming for its students. So they looked at recent graduates instead.
20 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to composer Gary Carpenter, Lorraine Peters, who was the rear body-double for Britt Ekland during her nude dance scene, was also the naked woman weeping on the grave, and credited as such. Peters was having her period on that day and because of the camera angle, she couldn't wear a tampon so she was dripping blood on the grass. He said "Consequently, and despite the best efforts of the crew to swab up after each take, DNA evidence probably survives at the location to this day!"
20 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? |
Artificial leaves and blossom had to be glued to the trees.
12 of 13 found this interesting Interesting? |
This movie is also known as "the Citizen Kane of horror movies" by Cinefantastique Magazine.
30 of 37 found this interesting Interesting? |
Paul Mayersberg wrote an unproduced screenplay based on David Pinner's novel "Ritual", which became the basis of this movie.
18 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? |
In 2018, the site AllHorror.com ranked Britt Ekland's naked dance in her room as #4 on their list of the Top Five Sexiest Dance Scenes in Horror.
21 of 25 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to a 2001 article in the U.K. publication Independent, Michael Deeley, managing director at production company British Lion, denied reports that he declared The Wicker Man to be one of the 10 worst movies I have ever seen. "Absolute nonsense!" he declared. "I never said that. I've made worse films than that myself. I thought it was fascinating and genuinely ahead of its time. But it was also rather indulgent, and very difficult for an audience." Indeed, both director Robin Hardy and writer Anthony Shaffer have confirmed Deeley's assessment, reporting that the marketing men at British Lion were aghast when first shown The Wicker Man. According to Shaffer, "When the lights went up, they just said 'Is that it? Don't the cavalry come? Jesus, it's a bit heavy, isn't it?' To which I replied, 'Yes, it is, isn't it!'" Hardy remembers that they simply declared it "unsaleable".
14 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to a column she wrote for the Den of Geek site in 2008, Ingrid Pitt said she got involved in the film when she heard about it and rang director Robin Hardy, whom she had met briefly a short time before, a few days before filming started to ask him if there was a part for her. "He admitted that the main casting was complete," she wrote, "but mentioned that the role of the Librarian was still up for grabs. I grabbed, and he directed me to Peter Snell who was just about to leave for Scotland. I didn't hang about. Jumped into a taxi and dived across London to Swiss Cottage, where Snell was living. He gave me the job and a couple of weeks later I was freezing my bodice off in the Highlands."
10 of 11 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to music director Gary Carpenter, Paul Giovanni's first choice for the music was the band Pentangle, but Carpenter convinced him that his band, Magnet, knew more about folk music, and were much cheaper.
15 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? |
In 2003, the Crichton Campus of the University of Glasgow in Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway hosted a three-day conference on this movie. The conference led to two collections of articles about it.
18 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? |
The amphibious aircraft that Sergeant Howie takes to the island was a Thurston Teal, owned and flown in the aerial sequences by Christopher Murphy.
11 of 13 found this interesting Interesting? |
13 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? |
Screenwriter Anthony Shaffer cast Diane Cilento after seeing her on-stage. They lived together in Queensland from 1975, and married in 1985.
13 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? |
The letter kick-starting the investigation (seen in the Director's Cut) is addressed to: Sgt. Neil Howie, West Highland Police, Ullwater.
19 of 25 found this interesting Interesting? |
Repeatedly throughout the film, the humpback character Punch (from the puppet show "Punch and Judy") is referred to as a pagan ritual figure, supposedly of ancient origins. Punch is actually a British adaptation of a stock character from the Italian "commedia dell'arte" ("comedy of the profession"), called Pulcinella.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? |
In september 2019, Channel Four (UK) ran the "Final Cut", in a restored version. Or to be more accurate, the restored scans of the negatives of the surviving version, that StudioCanal, the successor company to EMI-British Lion, were able to scan and which were previously re-assembled with the surviving copies of the other elements. This results in 3 unavoidable levels of picture quality, especially with certain sequences reinstated. The opening titles are mostly the lowest quality, before switching to mid and the higher quality for the bulk of the movie. Presumably, the mid and lower quality "placeholders" will be replaced if the original negs, or a higher quality scan, are ever found.
10 of 12 found this interesting Interesting? |
During filming, screenwriter Anthony Shaffer's brother Peter stood in for Sergeant Howie's Mr. Punch during one shoot.
17 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? |
Sir Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland appeared in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Diane Cilento was previously married to former James Bond, Sir Sean Connery.
19 of 27 found this interesting Interesting? |
The setting of the film is the fictional island of Summerisle, supposedly located in the Hebrides. There are over a hundred islands in this archipelago, but only 51 islands are actually inhabited.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? |
The cave scenes were filmed in the Wookey Hole Caves, a noted tourist attraction located in Somerset.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? |
Peter Schaffer lured Diane Cilento out film retirement to take a role.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? |
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
25 of 39 found this interesting Interesting? |
A subplot of the film is that Neil Howie is a virgin, and resists invitations to have sex with Willow MacGregor. His virginity turns out to be the reason for him being chosen as a human sacrifice, as pagans appreciate a virgin sacrifice.
7 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? |
The main character Neil Howie is serving in the West Highland Constabulary. Which means that he serves in the sparsely populated Scottish Highlands.
The film is loosely based on the novel "Ritual " (1967) by David Pinner. Pinner claims that he originally intended to create a screenplay for a film, but then reworked the idea into the novel.
The concept of the "wicker man" derives from a single sentence in the "Commentarii de Bello Gallico" ("Commentaries on the Gallic War") by Julius Caesar. He claimed that the Druids of the Gauls built effigies out of sticks and placed living men inside, then set them on fire to pay tribute to the gods. Caesar also claims that the men chosen were typically criminals or slaves. Modern historians have not been able to verify Caesar's account, and its veracity has been questioned.
Banned for many years by the South African apartheid censor board.
This film has never been released in any form in Germany until 2009. Only then, it was released on DVD by Kinowelt (due to cost restrictions without creating a German dub). In 2021, a German dub was commisioned by Birnenblatt for their Blu-ray release.
10 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? |
In 2020, a group of fans independently released a full-cast audio drama adaptation of Anthony Shaffer's unproduced sequel treatment, "The Loathsome Lambton Worm". Sergeant Howie was played by Alec Westwood, and Lord Summerisle by Jamie Roberts.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? |
Information concerning this movie's checkered distribution history in the U.S.: Opened 9/30/77 in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a PG rating; another run on 1/28/81. Variety reviewed it in their 5/15/74 issue. New Orleans run 10/28/78; San Francisco January 1979; Los Angeles with new ad campaign 3/9/79 and R rating; New York City 3/26/80 with R rating and distributed by Dynamite Entertainment-Abraxas Releasing.
12 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? |
A fertility ritual depicted in the film has young girls hoping to get impregnated by a god. The supposedly Christian Neil Howie fails to recognize the similarity of the ritual to the Christian belief that Mary, mother of Jesus was impregnated by a god.
7 of 11 found this interesting Interesting? |
The people of Summerisle worship the goddess "Avellenau", goddess of orchards. The name seems to derive from the Old Welsh term "avallen(n)" which means (depending on the context), "apple tree" or, "fruit tree" . There is no specific deity associated with the term.
The people of Summerisle worship the sun god "Nuada". The name is likely based on Nuada Airgetlám (Nuada of the Silver Hand), a mythological king of the "Tuatha Dé Danann" in Irish mythology. Modern scholars have suggested that he is an Irish version of the Celtic god Nodens, who was worshiped by Britons and Gauls. Nodens was associated with healing, with the sea, with hunting, and with dogs.
The gods worshiped in Summerisle are supposed to be Celtic deities. Yet the seductive character of Willow MacGregor is repeatedly identified in dialogue with the goddess Aphrodite, a Greek goddess of love. Perhaps implying a transplant of Aphrodite to a different pantheon.
John Sharp was second choice to play the island's doctor. The role was originally intended for Patrick Newell.
10 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? |
Rowan Morrison was born on June 23, 1958.
6 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? |
Neil Howie is shocked to learn that the pagans of Summerisle believe in parthenogenesis (virgin birth). When trying to dismiss their belief, Lord Summerisle reminds him that Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. The implication is that Howie fails to recognize pagan elements in Christianity.
6 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? |
The island's inn is named after the Green Man. The Green Man is a folklore figure, a symbol of rebirth which represented the cycle of new growth that occurs every spring. The Green Knight in the Arthurian tale "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" (14th century) is thought to represent a medieval rendering of this tale.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? |
The temperatures were so cold during filming that, in order to avoid their breath from showing, the actors had to suck on ice cubes between takes.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? |
The entire film focuses on traditional May Day celebrations, but claims a pagan origin for the festive rituals.
2 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? |
Christopher Lee says "in modern parlance, he blew it" which is almost exactly from the movie Bullitt (concerning Steve McQueen, not Jesus Christ) but it's "you blew it" instead of "he blew it" in that film.
2 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? |
The sacrifice at the end of the film is specifically defined (in dialogue) as a death-and-rebirth ritual. In comparative mythology such rituals are associated with the theme of the "dying-and-rising deity". These are deities who die or are trapped in the Underworld, yet return to the living. This motif of resurrection is shared by deities such as Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Inanna-Ishtar, Osiris, Persephone, and Tammuz.
2 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? |
The creators of the film reportedly studied various books on paganism to ensure some authenticity to what was depicted. At the end, much of the ideas used in the film derived from "The Golden Bough" (1890) by anthropologist James George Frazer (1854 -1941). Frazer believed that "old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship and periodic sacrifice of a sacred king." A belief which is alluded to in the film's rituals.
The main shooting locations for the film were Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright, Anwoth and Creetown (all located in Galloway) and Plockton (located in Ross-shire).
The film includes a pagan ritual in honor of an unnamed god of the sea. In the original script this god was identified with Seonaidh/Shoney, a water spirit traditionally associated with the Isle of Lewis.
According to the island's School Register Rowan Morrison was born on the 13 November 1960, which would make her 12 years, 5 months and 18 days old on May Day 1973. Geraldine Cowper, who played the character, was born on the 23 June 1958 (14y 10m 8d on May Day 1973).
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? |
On his off days, Edward Woodward was repeatedly asked if he wanted to go to the spot where the climax was to be shot to see the Wicker Man structure, he declined every time, preferring to see it for the first time when the scene was shot. So, Woodward saw the structure for the first time as Howie was dragged over the top of the hill. Howie's iconic cry of "O, GOD! O, JESUS CHRIST!" was half Howie, half Woodward. As the cameras were moved around to film the burning scene, Woodward asked director Robin Hardy if he was actually going to be put into the Wicker Man, which Hardy answered in the affirmative. As he was carried up the steps to the structure's midsection by Ian Campbell (Oak), Woodward repeatedly told Campbell, "Don't you drop me! Don't you dare drop me!", with Campbell laughingly reassuring that he wouldn't. Then came the burning scene. Woodward repeatedly said that in his entire career, which spanned over six decades, he was never more scared than when he was inside the Wicker Man as it burned, telling British film critic Mark Kermode in an interview that his terror forced him to "act his socks off."
132 of 132 found this interesting Interesting? |
According to director Robin Hardy, Sergeant Howie's final speech is based upon Sir Walter Raleigh's dying words.
91 of 91 found this interesting Interesting? |
This movie was inspired by an engraving called "The Wicker Image" in Britannia Antiqua Illustrata by Aylett Sammes in 1676. Some people have doubted the historical existence of The Wicker Man, suggesting that it came from Roman propaganda by people such as Julius Caesar.
163 of 165 found this interesting Interesting? |
The actual Wicker Man was constructed, and later burned, at Burrowhead, Scotland. The stumps remained at the location of the shoot for three decades and became a landmark for this movie's fans, who were outraged when the stumps were cut down and stolen in late 2006 by someone in a four wheeler.
113 of 114 found this interesting Interesting? |
Prior to shooting the final scene, Edward Woodward was in the Wicker Man and a goat was penned in above him. Because the goat was scared at being shut up, it urinated on Woodward.
152 of 155 found this interesting Interesting? |
During his final scenes inside the Wicker Man, Edward Woodward was reading his lines from giant cue cards placed around the surrounding cliffs.
108 of 111 found this interesting Interesting? |
The company's advertising executives were appalled by the movie's ending, and wanted screenwriter Anthony Shaffer and director Robin Hardy to re-shoot the scene, suggesting a sudden rainstorm which would douse the Wicker Man's flames, and save Sergeant Howie's life. They refused.
93 of 96 found this interesting Interesting? |
This movie gives its name to a music and arts festival (The Wickerman Festival) that has been held annually in the area where the movie was shot (Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland) since 2004. At the end of the festival, a giant Wicker Man sculpture is burned as a "sacrifice to the festival gods".
75 of 80 found this interesting Interesting? |
In 1989, screenwriter Anthony Shaffer wrote a thirty-page script treatment titled "The Loathsome Lambton Worm", a direct sequel to this movie, for producer Lance W. Reynolds. It would have been more fantastical in subject matter than this movie, and relied more heavily on visual effects. In this continuation of the story, which begins immediately after the ending of this movie, Sergeant Neil Howie is rescued from the burning Wicker Man by a group of police officers from the mainland. Howie sets out to bring Lord Summerisle and his pagan followers to justice, but becomes embroiled in a series of challenges which pit the old gods against his own Christian faith. The script culminates in a climactic battle between Howie and a fire-breathing dragon, the title Lambton Worm, and ends with a suicidal Howie plunging to his death from a cliff while tied to two large eagles. Shaffer's sequel was never produced, but his treatment, complete with illustrations, was eventually published in the companion book Inside The Wicker Man. Director Robin Hardy was not asked to direct the sequel, and never read the script, as he did not like the idea of Howie surviving the sacrifice, or the fact that the actors would have aged by twenty to thirty years between the two movies. In May 2010, Hardy discussed The Loathsome Lambton Worm. "I know Tony did write that, but I don't think anyone particularly liked it, or it would have been made."
40 of 42 found this interesting Interesting? |
The final song, sung by the islanders around the sacrifice, is a thirteenth century "reverdie" song celebrating the return of Spring. It would typically, as in this case, be sung in the round, for example, it keeps repeating over and over with different singers joining in at different stages: "Sumer is i-comen in! Ludé (louder) sing cuckoo! Groweth sed (seed) and bloweth med (mead, plants in the meadow) and springeth the wood nu (new)! Sing cuckoo nu, sing cuckoo", et cetera. Rather chillingly, to a certain generation, its the same melody as "We will Fix it", sung by the mice in the Organ in "Bagpuss".
50 of 54 found this interesting Interesting? |
The climactic burning scene took place inside a vast colossus at Burrowhead, in which Howie faces a fiery end along with a menagerie of sacrificial cattle. "I've done an awful lot of things in the years since that picture was made," Edward Woodward said in an interview, "but never, ever have I been so frightened as when I was in the wicker man itself. It was horrifying. The heat was intense and I felt at times that I was really burning."
24 of 25 found this interesting Interesting? |
Scenes filmed, but not used: Howie and McTaggart enter a pub and Howie chastises the landlord for having singing, dancing, and music without a licence. (Incidentally, Katie Gardner, who plays a prostitute in the scene, was once shortlisted for the part of May Morrison). The congregation segment originally had a scene where Howie and his fiancée meeting with a butcher and his wife. The cast includes two credits for a "Communicant", one played by Jan Wilson, and the other by Ross Campbell. As Howie leaves the mainland, there's an exchange between two fishermen, "Do you think he might be going for good?" "It always does to look on the bright side". Howie's meeting with Mrs. Morrison was much longer. They would have a longer conversation before he spoke with Myrtle and when she offered him a cup of tea. Howie's arrival at the Grimmond house. This scene was kept in this movie until a reasonably late stage as evidenced by the redundant "Mrs. Grimmond" credit on the end of the finished movie. Due to the removal of this material, the Holly Grimmond character ends up not speaking, but she can still be seen as one of the pupils in the schoolroom scene (the girl in the blue and white jumper) and during the stones sequences. Likewise, her mother can still be seen in some of the crowd shots (for example, when Howie first walks into the pub and approaches the bar). Sandwiched between Howie's meal at The Green Man and his evening walk, a scene was originally shot where Howie observes some more strange happenings in the pub. Though this sequence was excised from the final movie, the remnants of the wrestling match are still visible when Howie returns from his stroll. Paperwork indicates that the "on-looker" character was actually Broome (Lord Summerisle's attendant). The Duggald character (the smaller man in the fight, played by Jimmy MacKenzie) was renamed to Briar before shooting (hence the credit at the end of the movie) and can be seen prominently later as one of the two men holding Howie as he is stripped and anointed (the other is Oak). In the first shot of Lord Summerisle and Ash Buchanan in the garden, you can just about see that Lord Summerisle is holding a sapling. The script describes the significance of this: This is Lord Summerisle. In his hands, he holds a willow sapling and a dress dagger. Lord Summerisle passes his willow sapling and dagger to the youth, who starts rhythmically to chop off all the branches, until the sapling is stripped. The youth then moves forward and plants it firmly, questioningly under Willow's window. The scene where Howie talks to Willow outside the pub on the morning of his first day on the island was originally longer. After she has directed him to the school, he remembers something else and walks back over to her. Howie's chat with Miss Rose was originally longer, with her challenging his authority. Howie's meeting with Dr. Ewan was originally longer. When questioning the keeper of the local chemist's, Mr Lennox, the scene originally started with Howie meeting him outside of his shop. After the scene in the library, Howie was seen catching a lift up to Lord Summerisle's castle. This scene is noted on production paperwork as having been filmed. Howie's meeting with Lord Summerisle was originally longer, and featured Lord Summerisle talking about the island's apples. Sir Christopher Lee was very upset that this scene was cut. After Howie's forced entry into the chemist's shop, he returns to The Green Man and asks Willow about "The day of death and rebirth." . Howie's searching the hairdressing salon for Rowan was longer and the hairdresser had some spoken lines. Howie's scenes with the baker and the fishmonger were longer. Howie searching the Summerisle butcher's shop for Rowan and talking with the butcher. The actor playing the butcher is still credited.
42 of 49 found this interesting Interesting? |