Wicker Man, The

Wicker Man, The (movie)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A favorite among Wiccans and Pagans, this 1974 British movie directed by Robin Hardy is based on a book by Anthony Shaffer, who also wrote the screenplay. It stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento and Ingrid Pitt. Lee also co-produced. Although put out on a low budget, the film is striking in its photography (set in the northern islands of Scotland) as well as its script and acting.

The story involves a devout Christian police sergeant (Woodward) sent to a secluded Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, whose disappearance was reported in an anonymous letter. The island is unusual in many ways. It is ruled over by Lord Summerisle (Lee), an eccentric aristocrat whose word is more or less law. The population of the island steadfastly refuses to admit to the girl's disappearance. As Sgt. Howie moves about the island asking questions, he discovers that the whole population follows the old pagan ways. There is great emphasis on nature worship, sexuality, and fertility, with many pagan rituals performed. Sgt. Howie comes to believe that the girl's disappearance is somehow linked to an upcoming festival. In fact he finds himself playing a leading part in that celebration.

The screenplay is well crafted, creating a convincing pagan society in modern times and the plausible premise of a Christian placing himself freely amidst Pagans. The film's climax is exciting, if somewhat terrifying. The film's score and songs (by Paul Giovanni) have also become Wiccan and Pagan favorites.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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