Saturday, April 07, 2007

Whitman Wicker Man

The Wicker Man, a rather offbeat horror film from 1973, featured a unusual and generally excellent collection of folk songs by composer Paul Giovanni. Read more about the songs here.

The Wickerman is one of my favorite movies if you hadn't figured that out. Since I quote Christopher Lee, Lord Summerisle in my profile; " I am a heathen but not an unenlightened one"

The original not the crappy remake.

I’d look more kindly on Neil LaBute’s profoundly silly movie -- his first foray into anything like big-budget filmmaking geared toward a mainstream audience -- if I thought he meant any of it in jest, if any of it were winking at us even a littleNot so funny about Wicker Man is the truly awful and horrendously self-conscious performances he gets out of a truly fine cast. Cage, usually completely at home with a working-class guy like Edward, is just dreadful, and the women fare even worse.

Movie veteran CHRISTOPHER LEE has branded the upcoming Hollywood remake of THE WICKER MAN as "desperate". Lee, 84, starred in the original cult movie in 1973, which, he warns, is a hard act to follow. He describes NICOLAS CAGE's new effort as "desperate". Lee laments, "I would not embark on this when it was so successful the first time."

I watch the original during Easter as a counter to all the sword and sandal biblical stuff on TV. After all it is a film about sacrifice and resurrection.

When Lord Summer Isle takes young Ash Buchanan to be initiated into manhood by the Landlords Daughter; Willow, he quotes Walt Whitman. I have always liked this particular quote, and glad to have found it's source.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of
years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

Walt Whitman from Song of Myself

willows song instrumental

Poor Sgt. Howie, he is a fool, a king for a day, and about to be sacrificed as such. He had many an opportunity to take solace with the Landlords daughter but unlike Ash Buchanan he remains a virgin, it is after all his "duty to god."

It turns out that Howie is the virgin sacrifice the islanders have been wanting, all this time, and everyone, even the girl, has been playing a massive game to coax the priggishly upright man to don the proper mantle (of a fool) and participate in the May Day rituals (even in disguise), all to willingly present himself at the scene of his own sacrifice in the titular device, an enormous wooden effigy of a man which will be set afire with him in it.

Again, this is the sort of thing that any other movie would use as the final twist, and the metaphoric curtain would ring down. Not so in The Wicker Man, where the movie seems to go on a good twenty minutes or so as Howie is loaded into the Wicker Man and turns into a screaming biblical prophet, finally finding what comfort he can in his religion, a comfort he unwittingly denied himself in life - all while the people of Summerisle sing a jaunty tune.

Sgt. Howie's cry of Oh Jesus! Oh Lord! when he is about to burn with the other sacrifices in the Wicker Man is one of the stunning scenes in horror film. That it is followed by singing and dancing, reverencing the sacrifice truly captures that old tyme religion.

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The Problem Is Pagans



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Cliff said...

One of my favorites, a classic little pastoral terror and Christopher Lee was clearly having enormous fun.

eugene plawiuk said...

Without Christopher Lee this film would have been lost forever. And I love him in priestess drag wearing running shoes. It is the running shoes that tells me he is truly pagan. Them pagans don't want to hurt their feet.

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