Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Wicker Man.

I have been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks struggling with how to write it. What I wanted to say was why I liked The Wicker Man. Not from a technical angle, (characters, plot, directing, camera work etc) but from a much more subjective place. It’s quite easy to explain why a script is fantastic, or how cleverly the sound has been used in a film. It’s rather harder to express how it makes you feel, and even more difficult to explain why it makes you feel that way.

To my mind the technical aspects of The Wicker Man are all right. The script borders on poetry. The acting is measured to perfection. The plot seems to me to be paced right with no sense of it being rushed. I know who the characters are as soon as they are introduced. The story keeps me interested. It looks and sounds beautiful. All of which put together makes it a great film, but it’s how it makes me feel that keeps it in my favourites list.

Even after repeated viewings, it has lost non of its power or beauty and the ending is still a difficult and disturbing thing to watch. This I believe is because the character of Sergeant Howie is so well written, and so beautifully played, that you can’t help but respond to him on an emotional level. And when your emotions are being contrasted with the cold-blooded, matter-of-fact nature of the villagers, it becomes truly chilling. Even knowing beforehand what happens at the end of the film doesn’t stop me being any less affected emotionally by it. I think that is what this film does, it hits my artistic side and evokes an emotional response. In the way that looking at a beautiful painting does. I can see why it’s a great work, but it’s how it affects me inside that keeps me coming back to it.

“The Wicker Man is a highly unusual film.”

The quote above is taken from the official Wicker Man site and I think sums up the film as well as anything I’ve ever read. It’s a unique British thriller*, it’s a timeless cult classic and I love it.

*I’m pretty sure that nobody associated with making the film ever called it a horror. I think that label came from the company that was struggling with how to market it in the US. This is the same people who cut 15 minutes for no other reason than they felt it was too long.

Shafer’s screenplay was based on the novel “Ritual” by David Pinner. Good luck finding a copy, Amazon are advertising it (used) for £124.99.

One small point of trivia. The shots of Summerisle harbour and seafront featured in The Wicker Man were filmed on location in a village in Scotland called Plockton which was also used for Lochdubh in the TV series “Hamish Macbeth”

The YouTube video links.

Alex Cox ‘s introduction to “The Wicker Man” for the “Moviedrome” series.

The Wicker Man – Trailer. Just sorry I can’t post a link to the whole thing.

Christopher Lee talks about The Wicker Man during a press conference at Brussels Fantasy film festival in 2002.

Mark Kermode, Edward Woodward - Wicker Man Set Visit. The sound is not good on this clip, and the embedding has been disabled, so I’ve had to post a link.

The Web Links

The various versions of The Wicker Man. No look at The Wicker Man would be complete without a link to this site. As far as I know it’s the only site to set out in detail the differences between the three versions of the film. It also has a page with transcripts of scenes that it’s believed, were filmed, but not included in any release of the film.

The Wicker Man at ScreenOnline. As good a place as any (and better than most) for general details about the film.

The Official Wicker Man Site. Too much good stuff to list. But worthy of special note is a downloadable pdf version of the oft-quoted “Cinefantastique Article” from 1977. If you played the video above you will have heard Christopher Lee mention it. Sadly the photo galleries are down at the moment, but still an excellent site.

Paul Giovanni’s MySpase music page featuring four of the songs from the film. Including the excellent “Willow’s Song” and “Gentle Johnny”.

"Welcome, fool. You have come of your own free will to the appointed place. The game's over."


Elinor said...

I love this film too. When Christopher Lee turns to Edward Woodward and says "does the sight of the young people refresh you, sergeant?" Fab.

Dave said...

Hi Elinor. Welcome to the shed.

There are some great lines in The Wicker Man and Christopher Lee gets most of them... Maybe that's why he likes the film so much.


Love the film, so much better than the Nick Cage thing...

By the way, Dave, the Giraffe gags at mine...

as that comic used say...

...there's (even) more...

Dave said...

I've not seen the Nick Cage version... and I'm not in any rush to.

Rob said...

I love this film!

If Nic Cage comes round my manor I'm going to kick him in the nuts, then run away.

Haven't seen his Wicker Man though.

Dave said...

AHH the old kick and run ploy!!!