Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Summer of British Film: The Wicker Man - Review by Robert Duffin

The BBC and the UK Film Council are celebrating British cinema by screening classics on the big screen every Tuesday until Sept 11th in cinemas all over the UK. Each film has been digitally remastered in Hi-Def and Montage writers will be appraising these classics!

Director: Robin Hardy
creenwriter: Anthony Shaffer
Running Time: 100 mins
Certificate: 18
Released: Screening Tuesday 28th August

Christopher Lee has scared every generation of filmgoer witless. To some he is the Prince of Darkness, Count Dracula and to others he is the White Wizard of Orthanc Tower, Sauruman. However, for anyone who has ever seen The Wicker Man he will always be the sinister yet charming Lord Summerisle. He presides over the island Summerisle, the destination for one Sgt.Howie (Edward Woodward) who arrives to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Once there he finds himself to be the lone Christian on a pagan island determined to hinder his investigation at all costs.

Anyone discovering this treasure for the first time should be aware that history has mistakenly labelled it as a horror film. It’s really a quasi-religious thriller with a touch of the musical; a classic genre really. Bathed in disconcerting daylight, The Wicker Man is a bizarre yet unsettling experience. Nocturnal orgies and Britt Ekland’s now legendary naked dance pepper Howie’s descent into a dream-like labyrinth that threatens his religion and most importantly his virginity. Awash with doctrine discussions, the screenplay is also surprisingly literate and funny and the peculiar musical sequences are hard to forget.

Everyone knows Howie’s journey ends with a visit to the titular effigy thanks to the poster now used to promote the film, but it’s easy to forget the down right eerie events that precedes cinema’s most fiery dénouement. In a season of film that seems intent on reinforcing the values that led Truffaut to refer to refer to British cinema as being an oxymoronic term, The Wicker Man is a genuine curio that deserves to be seen by the uninitiated and anyone who still thinks Lee's scariest attributes are his fangs.

No comments: