Movie of the Week: The Wicker Man (1973)

Robin Hardy directs Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland and Christopher Lee in this folk horror cult classic about a devout policeman who investigates a Highland isle which celebrates pagan beliefs.

The ultimate mood movie – depending on your state of mind you can approach it as a dreadful chiller, a hippy musical, a goosebump dappled sex comedy, an essay on religion vs beliefs or a nihilist detective story. And you might come at The Wicker Man one way on Tuesday and leave in another mind about it on Thursday. Its mangled reputation helps. The fact you watch it cobbled together from the distributors edit with whatever lopped off extra sequence have been recovered inserted awkwardly in since. It makes you take on The Wicker Man like a lost artefact. Where every extra degraded clue on the treasure map feels more pertinent and entertaining than the originally released whole. The movie’s uniqueness both in tone, narrative and reputation feed into its special thrall. We’ve all been a stranger in a small town, we’ve all glimpsed strange customs that us as outsiders can’t quite fathom. Of course, Woodward’s man of God could be a lot less of a prig. There’s definitely an early point where you lose all sympathy for him. You do have to wonder though if Woodward just got his fuck on, how would the movie end? He was given his chance. And once you know the joke, the pleasure comes in the retelling. The teasing sidebars and red hare-rings on the way to the totemic punchline. It all leads to this before you’ve even bought your ticket. The wyrd conclusion is the title, the poster, is the lobby card. Imagine if Fight Club was called The Same Dude. Christopher Lee is glorious as the villain of the piece – suave, informed but gleefully fanatical. As I get older I like more and more all the curvy European blonde ladies who populate the infrastructure of Summerisle. And Paul Giovanni and Magnet’s often diegetic music is seductive, creepy and memorable. The Wicker Man isn’t for everyone but I reckon if you even merely only like it on first watch then eventually you’ll love it! “You did it beautifully!”


Perfect Double Bill: Don’t Look Now (1973)

My wife and I do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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