Monday, October 26, 2009
31 Days of Halloween - Day 26 - Movie
It's been at least twenty years since I last saw "The Wicker Man" (1973) so I decided it was time to revisit. Edward Woodward is a policeman who travels to the Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate a missing girl report. It's obvious the minute he reaches the island that something isn't right here. Even though everyone here claims to know everyone else, no one recognizes the girl in the photo, and everyone claims she doesn't exist, including the girl's mother. It soon becomes clear that everyone on the island is a pagan, an idea that revolts the Christian policeman. As he continues his investigation he uncovers fertility rituals, folk singing, cavorting naked girls, animism, parthenogenesis, and a harvest ritual that might include human sacrifice.
This movie still holds up really well, though the, at the time, surprise ending is no surprise now, and the early 70s hippy element seems a little dated. The latter element, with its plethora of musical numbers adds some authenticity to the movie. I'm sure at the time this was originally released, the pagan elements in this movie seemed weird and unsettling, and maybe even unnerving, much as they do to Woodward's Christian policeman. His appalled reaction to an island without Jesus feels very relevant now with such a large number of intolerant, extreme "Christians" having so much political authority in our own country now. Everything about this movies is well done, with the exception early on to drop in short bits of one song about apple groves over an moment where no conversation was happening. The actors are all excellent, particularly Woodward, and Christopher Lee, as Lord Summerisle, the owner, and leader of the island. I really wanted more of his character in the movie. The setting for this movie is perfect, and the direction and cinematography really bring the place to life while evoking an alienness to the place which resides, not simply below the surface, but on the surface, over the normalcy.
I'm glad I went back to this movie. I have no doubt it will be a lot less than twenty years before I get around to watching it again.