2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic Fearful of Faith
The Wicker Man is a film about a pious Catholic sergeant's visit to a small island off the coast of Scotland called the Island of Summerisle. His name is Neil and he is there to investigate the disappearance of a girl. His investigation reveals that the island is enamored with a neo-pagan religion. They worship the sun instead of Jesus. They engage in pagan fertility...
Published on July 5 2007 by K. Driscoll
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wicker Man is a bit of a puzzler.
There is a well known addage in movies that we all get what we have coming to us. The same can be said of this movie, whether in regards to the protagonist or the viewer his or herself. To begin with, I saw a version of the Wicker Man on video years ago and wouldn't have even given it a star for a rating. The story was chopped up so badly that I felt like the editor...
Published on April 15 2002 by Robert Cossaboon
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wicker Man is a bit of a puzzler.,
To get down to it, this is a movie about sex, or the fertility rites of a certain island just west of Britain in the springtime. Edward Woodward does a fine job as a police inspector duty-tied to both his job and his religion. Everyone else, including Christopher Lee seems superflous, however. Oddly enough, this almost seems to work for the movie, which is in effect about unresolved sex and red herrings. Considering the overt sexuality and eroticism of the movie, I found the ending to be a little disturbing. The movie itself can be said to be a metaphor about the dangers of falling down the wrong rabbit hole after you have tried long and hard enough to do so.
Voyeurs be warned, there is no actual love making going on on screen. Yet, this is a very sexy and erotic movie, which I guess serves to make the ending more disturbing. Visually, this film is first class. Shot on location, the outside shots are gorgeous.
Wicker Man is not what you would call the most nailbiting of horror movies. The answer of whether our protagonist gets the ending suited to him will probably be found by asking the question of whether you deserved to sit and watch this film for its eighty some odd minutes. There are many better movies out there that deserved a limited edition release more than this one. The film that comes most to mind is "Vampire Circus", a movie that has consistently been rated highly by critics, and that has been conspicuously left unreleased by Anchor Bay. Hopefully they will come around and give THAT film the release it receives.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic Fearful of Faith,
This review is from: The Wicker Man (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)The Wicker Man is a film about a pious Catholic sergeant's visit to a small island off the coast of Scotland called the Island of Summerisle. His name is Neil and he is there to investigate the disappearance of a girl. His investigation reveals that the island is enamored with a neo-pagan religion. They worship the sun instead of Jesus. They engage in pagan fertility rituals instead of Neil's proud pre-marital chastity. They believe in reincarnation where the Christian canon Neil is devoted to does not. As if the islanders are telepathically connected, Neil receives absolutely no help from anyone in his investigation. He gradually puts together more and more details about the inhabitants' practices and is suspicious of everyone.
A May Day festival approaches and Neil becomes concerned that the girl who is missing may indeed be the latest sacrifice to appease nature. But as the Island owner Lord Summerisle reveals, Neil too is a virgin and is both wise and foolish. He comes as a king representing Her Majesty's government. He also arrives to a place of sacrifice by his own free will. The final sequence of the Wicker Man is the ultimate warning toward blind faith. Anyone who misses the point here, like the makers of the 2006 remake of the Wicker Man did, will clearly find little resolution in the end but others willing to enjoy and exercise their imagination a little bit will have much to mull over.
The film's music is one of its strengths and the detail of the pagan references and how they are convenient roots to many Christian traditions (i.e. Easter icons and Beltane or May Day) help to make the overall vision of the Wicker Man even more compelling. All of the elements within the film melt together and everyone working it must've understood these ideas in perspective.
The funny thing about the Wicker Man is it is often referred to as a Horror film. There really isn't anything else to call it but it is almost too unique and exceptional to be deemed a horror film. It isn't scary like a typical horror film is. It doesn't elicit fear and disgust the way all other horror films have. There are no zombies, vampires or murdering sociopaths. There are no supernatural forces and there is little blood to be spilled. It isn't characterized by that one note creepy music or menacing Hitchcockian suspense. It doesn't rely on knives and masked killers stalking in the night. It doesn't even need a seemingly indestructible villain. The Wicker Man is a film that relies exclusively on its all encompassing atmosphere and it also relies on our own understandings of religion and faith. It is sunny, it is bright, it is cheerful, but for all of the wrong reasons to many of us. It is compelling all throughout. Somehow on this island paganism resurfaced and the worshippers are fiercely and irrationally devout. That point's layers of commentary aside, the Wicker Man is very much a horror film and it is probably more intelligent than any other movies within its genre.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Classic,
This review is from: The Wicker Man (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)Please, whatever you do -- do not see the Nicholas Cage "remake" (I use that term loosely) of The Wicker Man. Do not waste your time. See this version, the classic Christopher Lee/Edward Woodward original.
Police Sgt. Howie (a young Woodward) receives a tip about a missing girl on Summerisle, a ficticious island in the north of Scotland. He takes a seaplane to the island where he is greeted very cooly by the locals. Strangely, none of the elders claim to know of the girl, Rowan Morrison. Howie is not disuaded and refuses to leave. He sets up in a local hotel to learn more about the island and the girl.
Nothing adds up, as he finds her desk at the school and her name in the school registers. Howie, a devout Christian, is horrified to find that there are no Christians on Summerisle -- only Pagans. Their rituals are strange and disgusting to him, and the local church is rundown and obviously unused for quite some time. The things he witnesses on Summerisle are some of the most interesting images in the film, making it a work of art and impossible for cinema fans to ignore.
Howie finds the grave of Rowan Morrison and wishes to exhume the body, but to do that he needs permission from the owner of the island, Lord Summerisle (Lee). Lee's presence in this film is magnificent. Some consider this to be the best work of his career. As Lord Summerisle, he is regal, mysterious and dignified. But is he guilty of obstructing justice, or even murder? And what is the secret history of Summerisle? And who sent Howie the tip about the missing girl, and why?
Howie's seaplane will not start and he cannot return to the mainland. As the plot twists and turns, and stranger and stranger things are witnessed by Sgt. Howie, he comes to believe that young Rowan is not dead, but soon will be. He aims to stop her sacrifice and comes face to face with the wicker man. (If you don't know what a wicker man is, look it up.) By the end of the movie, you will be haunted by the song "The Lord is My Shepherd" and the words, "Oh Jesus Christ!"
The horror in this movie is not blood, or monsters, or frights. It is the situations that Howie finds himself in. This movie is not for everybody. I know some people who watch it regularly, and others who have found it so chilling that they will never watch it again. My recommendation is, if you have not seen it yet, rent it first. Only then will you know if you have the fortitude to face The Wicker Man!
This DVD edition by Anchor Bay is excellent. Two cuts of the film are included. The extended cut features some of the once-lost footage that enhances the experience. The extended version is the version to watch. There is also documentary footage on the DVD, including speculation as to where the last, lost bits of film may be hidden!
The only thing about The Wicker Man that I find hard to swallow is some of the music. Music is critical to the film, but, let's face it...Britt Ekland can't sing.
This is a work of fiction. It is not meant to offend anybody. It is a simply a horror movie, or more accurately a thriller. The only thing offensive about The Wicker Man is that an American film studio thought it was a good idea to try to remake it!
And, keep your eyes peeled. Lord Summerisle as played by Christopher Lee will appear in the film The Wicker Tree, which is, apparently, "neither a sequel nor a remake" (whatever that means!).
5 stars. Be sure to check this one out at least once.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Horror Classic of the Highest Degree,
This review is from: The Wicker Man (1973) (DVD)The Wicker Man is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Directed brilliantly by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward, this film is one of the finest examples of horror film making as art. The genius of this film is its ability to touch upon a theme that can historically and viscerally hit home to the viewer in its realism. A deeply religious and spiritual film, it challenges the viewer on an existential and moral level that few horror films ever dare to attempt, and if they do dare often veer into camp or nonsense.
A very unusual film, it addresses the nature of religion, faith and the testing of that faith, and the historical reality of religious martyrdom. This film in particular brings to life the ancient confrontation between paganism and Christianity, displaying the sharp contrast between their divergent world views.
This is a film that is also very well made. The story is well developed and thought out, the characters giving the viewer an emotional connection to them, particularly to the policeman played by Edward Woodward in what has to be the finest performance of his film career.
If someone was looking for a classic horror movie to view, this would be the one.
4.0 out of 5 stars moody ,mysterious and suspenseful and weird(in a good way),
This review is from: Wicker Man (DVD)this is a different movie,to say the least.it's very low key.you won't
get a lot of loud noise or music in this one.i won't give any of the
plot away,but i'll just say it is a mystery involving the occult and
paganism.it is a U.K movie which stars Edwaard Woodward and Christopher
Lee,and Britt Ekland.the creepiness factor is high in this movie and
the location really adds to it.if you expect to be terrified and jump
out of your skin,you should think again.this is not a horror movie in
the conventional sense.it is however very moody and mysterious and
there are some moments where your skin might crawl.one thing i really
like about this movie is it's unpredictability. you will have to have
patience while watching this movie,as it unfolds slowly,but is
definitely worth the wait.if you like movies with a slow buildup to
suspense,you will like The Wicker Man. 4/5
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted film gets its well-deserved re-editing!,
Edward Woodward stars as the almost unsympathetic, pious, and determined officer who matches wits with Christopher Lee, in a marvelous role of the smiling, ever-reasonable villianous island cult leader. The entire community seems to be hiding the truth behind the disappearance of a young girl, even to the degree of at first denying her existence. The very conservative Christian representative of the law has walked into the middle of a very Pagan circle; this conflict has to be resolved. Initially, the audience may not be too sure who is playing with whom or why. The climax of the suspense is a twist where the hunter becomes the sacrificial hunted.
Incredibly, the suspense of the plot does not wear off with repeated viewings, thanks to the production values (hats off to all those involved, shooting outdoor spring scenes in November on the coast of Scotland!) and outstanding performances of the cast.
I knew, when I saw it the first time, that the version I had seen of it had been cut down; however, even at the "sliced salami" level, it was an extraordinary experience - and experience is the word. The film puts you right there in the midst of the puzzle. Over the years I found various cuts of the film, eagerly awaiting what might be reconstructed. (The only other film I can recall searching for this diligently is a "more complete" cut of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis.")
This special edition of "The Wicker Man" might well be as good as it gets. Certainly, the inclusion of the backstory of the film ("The Enigma of The Wicker Man") added to both the theatrical and extended versions makes this particular release worth having.
If you haven't seen the film, make the chance. It's not exactly horror, it's not exactly mystery - it's both. And then some. It's one of a kind. It's "The Wicker Man."
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Great Film,
Edward Woodward plays a policeman from the Highland Police who has flown to the island of Summerisle to investigate a report of a missing girl. After discovering that just setting foot on the island is an adventure, Woodward is unable to find anyone who knows the girl who is missing. Even the girl's mother doesn't know who she is. A right puzzler. Forced to stay on the island, Woodward takes a room at the local tavern. Amidst the bawdy songs and lively music he begins to realize that the island folk are not quite what he is used to.
As his investigation takes him further along Woodward begins to suspect that the island is populated by sinners. By his definition he is right. The local population reverted back to their old religion during the early Victorian Era. They are now firmly entrenched in their old beliefs. To top it off it just happens to be May Day. Unable to drop the case, Woodward finds traces of the girl. He suspects that she is alive but captive and a soon-to-be sacrifice to restore the harvest. Woodward infiltrates the May Day celebration disguised as Punch. Then, at a crucial moment, he manages to grab the girl and flee. Then he learns the real truth.
From the opening credits showing the Scottish Isles and their sapphire waters and the accompanying Celtic music this movie is anything but a cheap horror film. Woodward plays the epitome of the Christian and the Authoritarian. Armored only with his belief in his god he must face a setting that, to him, is completely evil. Young girls being taught the significance of the maypole, naked women jumping through fire to help fertility, march hares in caskets and dozens of other examples. But it is Woodward who is the strange one. The people look at him as they would a simpleton. But Woodward, knowing that god and country are behind him, manages to keep going right to the conclusion of the film.
This classic confrontation of Christian against Pagan is so well done, framed by modern settings and Celtic music, that I can hardly say how good it is. Woodward's performance rivals his role in Breaker Morant and the young Christopher Lee's talent shows through so clearly that it is obvious why he was cast in so many roles. The story was written by the same man who brought us Hitchcock's Frenzy as well as the mystery Sleuth. If you have not seen this 1973 film, I urge you to do so.
5.0 out of 5 stars one way ticket,
This review is from: The Wicker Man (Widescreen) (DVD)visitng an island where people respond jovially to being brainwashed is quite a concept. the best example of a "mcguffin" ever. hedonists sacrifice an accomplished scottish police sgt. however the way his scottish colleagues spoke of him, they have still probably failed to realize he is missing. his attempt to instill any type of normalcy is quickly quelled in an orgy of obscurity.
if anyone knows the inn keeper's daughter's phone number, have her give me a ring.
a great dvd to reccommend at a party for sure, if you enjoy crookeye
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly A Great Film,
The plot has been reiterated over 100 times, just scroll down and you can find it.
The movie begins as a mystery with a police officer coming to the town and beginning the investigation of a missing girl. As night falls the movie starts to turn into a campy 70s-80s style horror/gore/porno style flick with the weird singing, gratuitous nudity, and dark and haunting imagery of the graveyard. From this point the viewer will assume that they know the direction in which the movie is headed; headed into a vat of gratuitous nudity and possibly some gory scenes. These images subside rather quickly and we are returned to the mystery imagery. We then see children learning about pagan sex symbols and singing songs about rituals and whatever else. The mystery begins to unfold with an empty desk in the middle of a class in a town with a total of a few hundred residents.
Officer Howie begins to discover more clues and a web of mendacity and conspiracy in the strange town. Soon he is lead down the path to the true nature of the town. I will not divulge the ending to those that have not yet seen it but it is rather dramatic.
The movie's imagery is thoroughly interesting and even if you are not captivated by the exhilerating plot you are sure to be impressed by the interesting surroundings and some of the outright bizarre rituals. Though it may seem that the plot moves a little slowly, everything has relevance to the story.
The movie I beleive is wrongly referred to as a horror movie as there is not a single scene where you will jump up out of your seat, there are however some rather dramatic and powerful images that might disturb you but none that will genuinely frighten. Furthermore the movie does not create the same mood as a horror film partly because the first time director did not know much about creating mood or atmosphere, however this is all ok as I love unconventional movies.
Furthermore the music in the movie is truly unique and every one of the actors has a powerful voice and the instrumentals are also very good, all played on celtic folk instruments of sorts. The movie has enough music to be called a musical however this is the farthest thing in the world from broadway.
Overall this movie could not be more recommended, and as you can of course see i am not the only person to hold such an opinion about this movie.
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest thriller/ musical ever about human sacrifice!,
Detective Howie (Edward Woodward) plays an uptight, overly religious, churchgoing Scottish police officer who makes Ken Starr look like Hugh Hefner. He get a letter from Summerisle claiming that a twelve-year-old girl is missing.
Howie flies to the island in a flying boat to investigate and finds that the locals have something to hide. Not only are they not helping him, not only are they having great fun by jerking his chain, they add further insult to injury by practicing VERY old-style pagan religion. This includes copulating in graveyards, bawdy songs, initiations involving nude girls jumping over flames, or boys dancing around a phallic Maypole. When Howie challenges Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee in his best performance) about having naked girls jumping over bonfires, Summerisle retorts "Of course they're naked! It's too dangerous to jump over the flame with their clothes on." Howie is so exasperated by what he sees (including a woman nursing a baby in one hand and holding an egg with the other on a pew in a ruined church), he smashes an empty crate to make a crucifix out of the scraps of wood in an effort to have some semblance of order.
Howie learns that these pagans aren't just in it for the sex, though. He finds out that the previous year's crops failed and that ancient Celts used to appease their gods by sacrificing virgins to them! Now his search for the missing girl takes on greater urgency...
The character of Detective Howie isn't terribly sympathetic. He is rude, pushy, self-righteous and closed-minded. A fierce bible-believing cop was a bit outdated thirty years ago when this movie came out. He's even more so today. The fact that he's not a sympathetic figure ends up making the viewer feel guilty for not liking him, just as the annoying fat kid does in Lord of the Flies.
Lord Summerisle and his followers at first seem like hippies who make up for their lack of drugs and rock & roll with extra servings of sex. But there's more than fornication going on among the islanders.
The rest of the cast is great, including blonde Britt Ekland's body double for the waist-down shots -even though the double has much longer, brown hair. Another reviewer was right that the guy who picked Ekland's stripper stand-in likes the Jennifer Lopez look!
The innkeeper, the old codgers, the burly fisherman, the missing girl's kid sister, the schoolteacher and county clerk are so perfectly cast, that combined with the low budget and the thanks given to Summerisle for his help in making the film, it almost seems like a documentary.
The ending is truly shocking and will stay with you forever, not just because it's quite possible, even plausible, but because this sort of thing has happened for thousands of years and entire nations have considered it holy.
For a low-budget thriller, this movie will disturb you and make you think about life, death, religion and human nature like few other movies before or since. How many other movies can do that -even the big-budget ones?
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The Wicker Man [Import] by Robin Hardy (DVD - 2009)
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