Wicker Man, The (1973)
“I think I could turn and live with animals,” says the dignified Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). “They are so placid and self-contained. They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God. Not one of them kneels to another or to his own kind that lived thousands of years ago.”
On a small island off the coast of Scotland, police sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives to investigate the case of a missing child. Yet the citizens of the innocent-looking town act oblivious or at best silent on the issue. The already bitter Sergeant Howie only gets more frustrated, and investigates harder.
But all is not as it seems on this little island, governed by Lord Summerisle. Evidence starts to make Sergeant Howie suspect murder. And the flesh-exposing rites, alluring music, and indulgent night activities of the townsfolk make him all the more angered. Perhaps it’s just his paranoia projected onto a happy little innocent island. Or is it? Like Rosemary’s Baby, The Wicker Man has a very long build-up that unfolds and twists to a climatic ending.
One of the many refreshing aspects of this film is the portrayal of Sergeant Howie as a Christian in every sense of the word: uptight, myopic, totalitarian, indulgence-hating, and quite frankly an all-around miserable asshole. Although the viewers are not made out to like him, he’s still the main character as the story is shown exclusively through his interactions. Yet in a strange way it all works in this film. In any case, it’s his religiously ethnocentric mindset which ultimately decides his unfortunate fate. Likewise we see the Pagans as life-loving folks, unlike the new breed of miserable crystal-wielding feminists who’ve since taken up that title.
The Wicker Man is one of those films that is hard to describe without giving everything away. It’s also a film you can watch multiple times, picking up new things in subsequent viewings. Satanists are highly encouraged to watch the special director’s cut version on DVD, as the originally cut scenes mostly serve to creatively reinforce the Pagan/Christian polarity which, along with the already existing scenery, hypnotic music and other aesthetics, gives the movie a Satanic appeal.
[- Bill M.]