Wicker Man

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August 16, 2017 by Grace

I recently watched the original Wicker Man (1973 – Robin Hardy). An incredibly devout Christian police inspector investigates a disappearance in a tiny Scottish island community, which, turns out, is also a pagan cult.

The constant arguing between this inspector and the locals about Christianity v Paganism made me wonder if the filmmakers were a) agreeing with the protagonist about the fundamental righteousness of Christianity or b) demonstrating the ridiculousness of Paganism and holding Christianity up alongside to demonstrate the ridiculousness of both. To my agnostic ears, nothing the inspector said about Christ sounded more intrinsically reasonable than the dancing penis-worshippers.

But while the film is really obvious about the theme, it’s much less obvious about the conclusion. It’s impossible to interpret this film without bringing yourself into it.

I was surprised that so many people thought it had a pro-Pagan message. But there’s a lot of symbolism to back this up. Academic papers have been written about Wicker Man in the framework of colonialism, with the Inspector/Christianity/Mainland UK as a symbol of the oppressor, and the Villagers/Paganism/Island Culture of course being the oppressed.

But for the most part it seems the filmmakers themselves wanted to highlight the absurdity of religion in general. Particularly in nodding to the roots of religion, which was largely created to solve, or attempt to solve, practical issues (we see the May Day fertility festival as a plea for a successful harvest).

Anyway. It’s nice when horror movies (with musical interludes?) have more interesting subtext.

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