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Beer on DVD  no.52

The Wicker Man

Everything is not what it seems in this film, initially released in 1973 as a B-feature to Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” with Julie Christie.

A devoutly Christian police sergeant Neil Howie (a vulnerable Edward Woodward) from the mainland flies in by seaplane to investigate the alleged disappearance of a young girl, Rowan Morrison, the postmistress’s daughter, from a remote Hebridean island which for a century or more has been in the stewardship of agronomist Lord Summerisle  (Christopher Lee but not creepy). The less than co-operative locals act as though Rowan never existed. Under their laird in the previous century the islanders had reverted to pagan beliefs with assorted fertility rites that, in most seasons, favoured the apples which have been the island’s staple export.

Most of the shooting took place in breathtaking scenery in and around Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway -  no filming actually occurred on an island! The island pub, actually the Ellangowan Hotel at Creetown just off the A75 (interiors) and Cally Estate Offices, Gatehouse of Fleet (exterior) is called, not too surprisingly, as the plot unfurls, the Green Man, and it’s where our sergeant stays for B & B.

Pub entertainment: there is the "funniest, corniest, creepiest and amateur-night pub scene in Brit-flicks.” (Time Out), and to put it mildly, ribaldry with the landlord’s daughter Willow played scorchingly by Brit Eklund (they had to dub-in a Scottish voice for her, in post-production) It’s all too much for our Sergeant Howie who scuttles off quickly to tuck himself up for what he thinks will be an early night. If you didn’t know how to spell “phwoar” you do now. The inhabitants copulate openly in the fields. The island’s schoolchildren with their mistress Miss Rose (Diane Cilento) are steeped in paganism, too, much to the sergeant’s perturbation. The islanders include children as part of the May Day celebrations, teach children of the phallic association of the maypole, and place toads in their mouths to cure sore throats. The May Day procession sees Christopher Lee in drag looking passably like Cher!

There was a re-make 2006 re-make with Nicolas Cage set in the US but it bombed. The 1973 trailer can be seen on YouTube  but you aren’t getting any more spoilers. You should be able to buy a basic disc new for under a tenner, used from £2 on Music Magpie, director's cut or blu-ray for a bit more. Finally, rest assured that no living animals perished in the final scene.

Warner Brothers’ 2006 remake was nominated for five 2006 Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Nicolas Cage), Worst Screenplay, Worst Remake or Rip-off and Worst Screen Couple (Nicolas Cage and His Bear Suit).

to be printed in O-to-K , 2016  main text ©RKW 2016