Edward Hardwick

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The Wicker Man Review


Extraordinary
It's difficult to shake the disquieting climax of The Wicker Man, where pious Police Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward) of the West Highland Police is confronted by the secrets kept within the isolated Scottish island of Summerisle. Being a decent Christian, he finds himself repulsed by their pagan rituals, open sexuality, and their unwavering devotion to the Old Gods. Much like the unwitting protagonists of Peter Weir's The Last Wave and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, Howie is facing off against powers much larger than himself (and anything that is dreamt of in his narrow theology).

Called upon to investigate the disappearance of a young schoolgirl named Rowan Morrison, Sgt. Howie finds stubborn, tight-lipped resistance from the local islanders, who carry about their business unmindful of his single-minded detective work. More often than not, they treat him with bemused detachment, laughing into their drinks or simply ignoring him altogether as he marches through the rustic schoolyards, dingy inns, and lush green hills. The locations, filmed in the highlands of Scotland, possess the eerie, musty, ever-haunted quality of an Old Country worn down by time. If there is a central character in The Wicker Man, it's the timeless elements of rock and water, moss and faded wood that comprise the town squares. Sgt. Howie, a man from the city, is clearly out of his depth.

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