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Monday, December 4, 2023

Fifty Years of Appointments With "The Wicker Man"

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Wicker Man, the classic British horror film directed by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, and Christopher Lee.

The setting is a remote Scottish island where a young girl has gone missing. Woodward is Sergeant Howie, who arrives on the island to solve one mystery but soon finds himself deep in another. Why can't the people here answer his questions? What of their pagan beliefs? And what of this enigmatic Lord Summerisle? The film tweaks all the senses: watching the islanders' way of life, hearing their communal chanting, and feeling ever-growing dread as Howie commits himself to solving the case, whatever the cost.

There are various film versions - which you can read about elsewhere – and the 50th anniversary DVD collector's edition box set features some of those.

Jon watched The Wicker Man for the first time back in 2006 and commented on the different types of hands of glory as shown in the film and the Edward Gorey-drawn image on the cover of The House with a Clock in its Walls (1973):
Edward Gorey's hand of glory, as pictured on the dust jacket, shows the hand "flat" with the candle on the back of the hand in connection with the text [170]. A lot of hands we see tend to be of the Wicker Man variety, with candles on the tip of each finger. Maybe that makes more sense when constructing the devilish item? Either way apparently gets the job done. (Right?)
In another post, we noted how all the cast (most of it, anyway) lovingly sings the medieval English song , Sumer is icumen in. Thes song is the earliest known four-part harmony song from Britain and was first written down at Reading Abbey in Berkshire in about 1240. The actual manuscript is now in the British Library. Sing along at home:
Sumer is icumen in (Summer has arrived)
Lhude sing cuccu! (Loudly sing, Cuckoo!)
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med (The seed grows and the meadow blooms)
And springþ þe wde nu (And the wood springs anew)
Sing cuccu! ( Sing, Cuckoo!)
Awe bleteþ after lomb (The ewe bleats after the lamb)
Lhouþ after calue cu. (The cow lows after the calf.)
We'll end with some thoughts from  Elaine Macintyre:
Groundbreaking and utterly unpredictable, beautiful yet chilling, the film represented a major departure from the time-honoured British horror tradition. What's more, it has stood the test of time, retaining its power to shock and mesmerise, to entice and repel, to confound all expectations and linger in the mind for weeks. Looked at objectively, it ought to be ridiculous, and yet it never is. Timeless and compelling, long may The Wicker Man continue to haunt our darkest dreams.

Enjoy your apples.

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