The Wicker Man (1973)

wicker_man_poster_03The Wicker Man has long-held its status as a cult film and after hearing called “The Citizen Kane” of horror films, I had to finally get around to giving it a look. While I enjoyed The Wicker Man, my feelings on it are still muddled. I think had I gone into it blind, I would have enjoyed the film a lot more. Also if I had managed to get Nicholas Cage screaming about bee’s out of my head, that would have helped more.

The Wicker Man follows Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward)  as he visits remote Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of local girl Rowan Morris. The townfolk block his investigation, claiming that no such girl exists. Howie discovers subtle clues that reveal that she was indeed taken. Howie besides being an, in my opinion great detective, happens to be a devout Christian and is taken aback by the townfolk with their pagan practices. Said practices include openly copulating in the fields, dance naked, treating sore throats by placing frogs in their mouths and teaching their religion to children in schools. Howie is able to find Rowan’s burial plot only to discover the grave containing only a dead rabbit. Howies investigation leads him to conclude that Rowan is still alive that she’s to be sacrificed during the May Day celebration…

The mood and pacing of this film is simply outstanding. While The Wicker Man takes its time to tell its story, it does so without becoming dull or boring. The best way for me to sum up the general feel of the film is patient, but don’t feel that it’s not going anywhere. Oh, it has an ending in mind.

The acting is outstanding with Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee deliver memorable performances. I enjoy the way the two play off one another throughout the film. Honestly I can’t think of a single actor that wasn’t wonderful. The acting is just top-notch and really makes the already great story shine all the more.

The final nugget of this film I plan on praising is the music. The Wicker Man’s use of music is so heavy that part way through the production Wicker Man was dubbed a “musical”. While I disagree with The Wicker man wearing that title, I can see the argument for it. Regardless the musical score is phenomenal.

Now the bad, sorta. Howie comes off a bit intolerant. I feel conflicted using that word, as while he does state over and over how the towns practices upset his christian beliefs. But other than that he doesn’t do anything. When he witnesses people copulating in the fields, he leaves the field. He doesn’t start trying to break them up, arrest them or draw attention in any way. He just fusses about it later. But while he constantly throws his religious convictions around, he never gets violent with the townsfolk. Damn I love a complex character.

Final thoughts, The Wicker Man is more than worth a watch. The cult status is well-earned and I’m frankly surprised The Wicker Man isn’t just considered a cinematic masterpiece. I feel bad that the travesty that the American remake turned out to be. But as the original film-makers have distanced themselves from it, so I’m choosing to disregard it here. The Wicker Man is a clean, well written script with interesting, complex character and is full of outstanding story-telling. The Wicker Man is more than worthy of the praise of so often heaped at its feet. 10/10

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