Tuesday, August 29, 2006


THE WICKER MAN (1973, UK, Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer screenplay)

A puritanical Presbyterian copper goes to the isle of Summerside to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, and begins to suspect some very dark forces may be at work. If Peter Weir's THE LAST WAVE suggests that western materialism may leave us unprepared for confrontations with spiritual realities, and that our churches fail us when they conform themselves to the rationalistic world's nothingbutness, THE WICKER MAN goes further: Christianity is impotent, its morality a joke, and the only true power is to be found in a darkly primitive paganism. It may be nasty, but it's the only game in town – or in this case, on the island. It's possible to see the film as a cautionary tale, something of an expose of the darkness at the heart of certain occult religions, but that kind of reading doesn't account for the nasty aftertaste this one leaves, or the massive cult following it has among a certain strain of New Age folks who celebrate the film's authentic portrayal of their own practices. Which is not to write off the film: if the off-kilter comic tone doesn't undermine things too much, it's genuinely creepy, with a stunner of a pay-off, and it may be telling more truth about real spiritual horror than any other dozen Friday The Thirteenth gore-fests. But I'll warn you: you visit this place entirely at your own risk. Thin line between portraying darkness and conveying it.

Then again, some people find it just plain boring.

Available at Videomatica

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