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Ezra Long
Ezra Long

The Wicker Man(1973) UPDATED

Shaffer wanted the film to be "a little more literate" than the average horror picture. He specifically wanted a film with a minimum of violence and gore. He was tired of seeing horror films that relied almost entirely on viscera to be scary. The focus of the film was crystallised when he "finally hit upon the abstract concept of sacrifice." The image of the wicker man, which gave the filmmakers their title, was taken from one sentence in Julius Caesar's account of his wars in what is now France. Caesar claimed that the local tribes there had executed their most serious criminals by burning them alive in a huge man-shaped sculpture of woven twigs. For Shaffer, this was "the most alarming and imposing image that I had ever seen." The idea of a confrontation between a modern Christian and a remote, pagan community continued to intrigue Shaffer, who performed painstaking research on paganism. Brainstorming with Hardy, they conceived the film as presenting the pagan elements objectively and accurately, accompanied by authentic music and a believable, contemporary setting. One of their main resources was The Golden Bough, a study of mythology and religion written by Scottish anthropologist James Frazer.

The Wicker Man(1973)

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By the time of the film's completion the studio had been bought by EMI, and British Lion was managed by Michael Deeley. The DVD commentary track states that studio executives suggested a more "upbeat" ending to the film, in which a sudden rain puts the flames of the wicker man out and spares Howie's life, but this suggestion was refused. Hardy subsequently had to remove about 20 minutes of scenes on the mainland, early investigations, and (to Lee's disappointment) some of Lord Summerisle's initial meeting with Howie.

When it is revealed that the method of sacrifice is to have Howie burned alive in a wicker man, it is genuinely terrifying. The camera stays with Howie as he sees the fire licking up at him in his final moments. It was deeply affecting.

Howie finally tracks the elusive Rowan to St Ninian's Cave, near the southern tip of the Machars Peninsula, off the A747. The wicker man itself was built on the Peninsula, the area of land between Luce and Wigtown Bays, south of Newton Stewart.

The most alarming visual in the film -- the titular wicker man -- was pulled directly from history. According to the filmmakers, Julius Caesar wrote that he watched local tribes execute criminals by burning them alive inside of a man-shaped sculpture made of wood. 041b061a72

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