Movie Review: The Wicker Man (1973)

Wicker ManThe Wicker Man (M)

Starring Christopher Lee

This is one of those movies that I’ve heard all about for so long but never seen. Can it live up to the hype? Is this really the Citizen Kane of horror movies? (Citizen Kane is another one of those movies I really should get around to seeing.)

Police Sergeant Howie, a conservative Christian man, has received a tip off that a young girl has gone missing on the island of Summerisle. When he arrives on the island, it’s as if the girl never existed. As he investigates the situation, he finds that the island folks are pagan worshippers of the old gods and there’s an important festival coming up. One that may involve human sacrifice…

This movie provides a stark contrast between the conservative Christian faith and practices of Howie, and the practices of the island folk. Howie is appalled by the pagan imagery, the teaching of gods in the classroom and the flagrant sexual debauchery he sees. He rallies against it, not understanding how such things could be happening in the “Christian” United Kingdom.

While Howie is right to protest against some of their practices, does Howie approach this in the right way? He is definitely acting culturally inappropriate. From the very start he goes off at them, abusing them for not being Christian. Would he have had the same reaction if he had walked into an Islamic community? Or Hindu? At no stage does he act respectfully to their culture. If he was a missionary, I don’t think he would last very long at all.

On the other hand, he is right to tell them that they are worshipping false gods. That the one true God is revealed in Jesus Christ. He is right to stand up and affirm this truth. But what is missing is love. As we communicate the truth of Christianity, it is important to do so in a way that is loving. This doesn’t mean holding back. This doesn’t mean not rebuking worship of false gods. But it does mean acting in a way that demonstrates the love that God has shown for us.

The Wicker Manis a haunting movie. At some points you may be forgiven for thinking it is a musical rather than a horror movie (unless you think sitting through a Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is the most horrifying thing you can imagine). By the films end, you can’t help but feel that this is one of the creepiest movies ever made.

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About Joel A Moroney

Associate Minister at St Luke's Anglican Church, Liverpool (in the Sydney Diocese). A very strange man, but he usually has Pez, so that makes it okay.
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