Getting Wicked with the Wicker Man
Having received an anonymous letter about a missing girl, devoutly Christian Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) flies to the island of Summerisle to investigate the missing daughter. But when he arrives the locals deny ever seeing the girl in the photo which Howie carries and even the mum of the missing girl tells him that her daughter is fine and takes him in to the back room to meet her even though it is a different girl to the one in the picture. Suspicious Howie finds himself challenged by what he encounters on the island as he observes people having sex in public as he learns that the island is inhabited by Pagans who worship a different God to him. He also finds himself having to deal with Willow (Britt Ekland) the inn keeper's daughter who tries to seduce him. But as Howie investigates further and meets Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) he begins to suspect that maybe the islanders practice sacrifice when it comes to insuring a proper harvest.
I reckon there must be something ingrained in my psyche as whenever I come across a movie which is a much loved cult classic I tend to doubt it will be for me. It comes from watching a lot of these popular movies and ending up not seeing what others saw in the movie and to be honest it has put me off watching many a movie. It is why for many years I have put off watching the original "The Wicker Man" in fear of disappointment and whilst it failed to entertain me to the extent it does others I will say it certainly kept my attention.
Now I will keep this simple as I found "The Wicker Man" utterly curious and almost a magic trick. What I mean is that for the first hour it distracts you with at the time sensational elements from girls being taught that the May Pole is the phallic symbol, we see sex in fields, naked girls jumping a fire and Britt Ekland getting her kit off and doing a full on sexy dance to try and seduce Howie. What we also have is a prominent musical element which is a curve ball as it is not what you expect yet the music is enjoyable.
Whilst this is going on it also leads us in to how Howie is feeling as his strong Christian beliefs are put to test as he finds him in what surmounts to Sodom and Gomorrah. We see how he is repulsed by the sex he encounters going on in the field opposite in the inn whilst tempted by the hypnotic quality of Willow's sexy singing and dancing. And like Howie we are curious as to what is going on as he finds the locals unwilling to aid him in his investigation whilst following strange practices.
But as I said "The Wicker Man" is a magic trick, it leads you on one path of thinking then only to switch things around at the last minute as we discover what is really going. And of course it gives us a potent ending which is one of the most iconic in the history of cinema.
The trouble is that whilst I could tell you all about the acting as well as some of the deeper meanings my trouble with "The Wicker Man" is that other than being quirky and making me curious it didn't blow me away. I expected something more and didn't get it as I half suspected during the first hour that everything which was being shown to us whilst dropping hints to the truth was mainly a distraction.
What this all boils down to is that "The Wicker Man" is a clever movie as in the way it is constructed and it certainly makes you curious but sadly it didn't entertain me as much as it has others.