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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays Week 64 The Wicker Man

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I.....had no idea there was that much singing in this.

We watched:

220px-The_Wicker_Man_(1973_film)_UK_post

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20 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

I just can't decide if this is more crazy or less crazy than the Nic Cage version. 

I'm torn on this too. I think Edward Woodward plays it straighter than Nic Cage does, but the whole set up in the original may be more bonkers

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As I said on Letterboxd, it makes the Nic Cage version make both less and more sense. It definitely makes more sense for the detective to be super religious though. Cutting that aspect of the character from the Nic Cage version is confounding. What were they thinking?

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There's so much to the original that just builds a wilder, but more solid story I think. The conflict of religion is a big one. I also like how developed the island is, so that you only realize something is off by the behavior of its inhabitants. The virgin sacrifice aspect too is not part of the Cage version.

The songs just add to the atmosphere. They are used so naturally, but are rather unsettling.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

As I said on Letterboxd, it makes the Nic Cage version make both less and more sense. It definitely makes more sense for the detective to be super religious though. Cutting that aspect of the character from the Nic Cage version is confounding. What were they thinking?

I think the idea of replacing religion with familial responsibility was a logical choice, but then they went so far into Cagesanity that made that movie a HDTGM classic. I wasn't surprised by the singing so much since that was a focal point of a lot of reviews, though I was surprised that this was an almost stag film with the numerous scenes of nude girls just dancing in the field. What's even more bonkers is that Robin Hardy would make a spiritual sequel in 2011 called the Wicker Tree that had Christopher Lee cameo. That one focuses A LOT MORE on music and religion as the main character is born again pop singer that goes to spread the good word to heathens around the world, leading her and band to Scotland where they come across the pagan cult that have similar practices as the original group.

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27 minutes ago, JammerLea said:

The songs just add to the atmosphere. They are used so naturally, but are rather unsettling.

I agree. That song they sing at the end, about the cuckoo, would be absolutely terrifying if you were in Howie’s position. It’s so silly and cheerful sounding.

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One thing In curious about is the different efforts of this movie. I watched the theatrical edit (87 minutes) but looking on imdb and other places, there is a longer version called the director's cut and a version commonly called "middle version".

My main question, because I can't find anything concrete, is regarding the middle version. A lot of places say it's more in chronological order than the theatrical cut. But the theatrical cut is in chronological order as far as I can tell. Has anyone seen the other editions? How is the theatrical edition not chronological?

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This movie was so perfect for this time of year.  I happened to watch both movies (original and remake) by coincidence.  I definitely feel like the original version of the film feels more sensible than the remake.  Edward Woodward's Sgt. Howie is more calm and ever so slowly builds to frustration.  The original is full of songs, sexual energy and they go out of their way to explain their customs to Sgt. Howie.  They give him ample opportunities to not go to the May Day festivities and of course he chooses to go.  I do like religious juxtaposition of the original and how Sgt. Howie has his place now as a martyr for his beliefs.  I also do like that Sgt. Howie gets to warn/curse Lord Summerisle that if the crops fail again, only Lord Summerisle would do as the next sacrifice.

Anyway, great film.... and surprisingly musical.  I forgot how much music was in the film.

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1 hour ago, EternalSammich said:

This movie was so perfect for this time of year.  

I could see making this movie a yearly tradition. :) 

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

I could see making this movie a yearly tradition. :) 

I actually watched this yesterday, and was not expecting how relevant it was to the time of year! 

I'm still wrapping my head around it. I think I enjoyed this one better. Especially considering the time in which it was released. It felt so of-it's-era, that I was more sold on the wacky premise. And the music seems so integrated that I'd hardly have called it a musical. 

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This is my first time watching this, so for people who have seen this before, what’s your take on the nude bedroom dancing scene? I loved the music playing in the background and the forbidding “thumps” on the wall. And I liked the idea of her tempting him to make sure he was “pure.” But, damn, Howie acts like a real weirdo in that scene - lol.

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8 hours ago, grudlian. said:

One thing In curious about is the different efforts of this movie. I watched the theatrical edit (87 minutes) but looking on imdb and other places, there is a longer version called the director's cut and a version commonly called "middle version".

My main question, because I can't find anything concrete, is regarding the middle version. A lot of places say it's more in chronological order than the theatrical cut. But the theatrical cut is in chronological order as far as I can tell. Has anyone seen the other editions? How is the theatrical edition not chronological?

The blu-ray we have is The Final Cut (approx 94 mins) and seems to be the "middle version" according to the info on wikipedia. But I haven't seen the other versions to know how it compares. It seemed to flow pretty well imo, so I guess the chronology helps.

3 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

This is my first time watching this, so for people who have seen this before, what’s your take on the nude bedroom dancing scene? I loved the music playing in the background and the forbidding “thumps” on the wall. And I liked the idea of her tempting him to make sure he was “pure.” But, damn, Howie acts like a real weirdo in that scene - lol.

I only saw the film once prior, so I had forgotten some of what happens, but I think that's one of my favorite scenes in the film. The song is really great and it has a lot of emotion between Willow's beckoning dance and Howie's obvious frustration as he resists her temptation. It definitely seems like a weird reaction, but he knows what she is trying to do and he's fighting so hard to remain true to his Christian values. Ironically, giving in to the temptation might've saved him, idk

There's so much more thought put into the original. Even the costume that Sgt Howie steals is significant.

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37 minutes ago, JammerLea said:

The blu-ray we have is The Final Cut (approx 94 mins) and seems to be the "middle version" according to the info on wikipedia. But I haven't seen the other versions to know how it compares. It seemed to flow pretty well imo, so I guess the chronology helps.

I guess that's my question to everyone else. The 87 minute version is in chronological order as far as I can tell. Right? Am I wrong?

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11 hours ago, JammerLea said:

There's so much more thought put into the original. Even the costume that Sgt Howie steals is significant.

Yes! That was one of my bits of foreshadowing I caught based on my knowledge of the Nic Cage version. I was like, “Oh, he’s so going to be the fool...”

I also like how the movie subverted the whole “virgin sacrifice” trope. It annoys me so much when movies just ignore male virgins. My favorite example of this is when two eleven year old boys lament “Where are we going to find a virgin?” in Monster Squad. I’m like, “Hey fellas, take a look in the mirror...”

10 hours ago, grudlian. said:

I guess that's my question to everyone else. The 87 minute version is in chronological order as far as I can tell. Right? Am I wrong?

I watched the version on iTunes. It says it’s 1:42 (102 minutes), and as far as I could tell, it was chronological.

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The Wicker Man is one of my all time favourite horror films. To me what makes a good horror film a great one is not the amount of death or kills or gore or even how many scares if gives you. A great horror film is one that creates an atmosphere. One that doesn't need to rely on cheap shock or gore to get you to feel uncomfortable or uneasy. The best way to do that is create characters that you are interested in and have something to say. We've been blessed in the last few years to have films like The VVitch, Susperia, Hereditary, etc. that get this concept. So expanding upon this the whole religious angle and the question of one's faith and beliefs is so integral to what makes Sgt. Howie and the story work, that the Nic Cage version always confused me a little. The bedroom scene and the other odd scenes are earned because we know who the character is. We get the bigger picture and higher concepts. We understand the crisis of faith or beliefs being tested. This things push the character and therefore us with them. Just being odd or having unearned weirdness is what separates a good film from a HDTGM film.

That said this time rewatching it I really focused on the music and like was said it is hard to imagine the film without it. It is such a part of the film and creating a tone and atmosphere even more so than I realized.

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12 hours ago, Cam Bert said:

The Wicker Man is one of my all time favourite horror films. To me what makes a good horror film a great one is not the amount of death or kills or gore or even how many scares if gives you. A great horror film is one that creates an atmosphere. One that doesn't need to rely on cheap shock or gore to get you to feel uncomfortable or uneasy. The best way to do that is create characters that you are interested in and have something to say. We've been blessed in the last few years to have films like The VVitch, Susperia, Hereditary, etc. that get this concept. So expanding upon this the whole religious angle and the question of one's faith and beliefs is so integral to what makes Sgt. Howie and the story work, that the Nic Cage version always confused me a little. The bedroom scene and the other odd scenes are earned because we know who the character is. We get the bigger picture and higher concepts. We understand the crisis of faith or beliefs being tested. This things push the character and therefore us with them. Just being odd or having unearned weirdness is what separates a good film from a HDTGM film.

That said this time rewatching it I really focused on the music and like was said it is hard to imagine the film without it. It is such a part of the film and creating a tone and atmosphere even more so than I realized.

I agree with all of this. The original Wicker Man is one of the great English language horror films, full stop, and it is interesting to me as a Canadian who grew up with a lot of UK media on TV to read a bunch of Americans reacting to it for the first time.

I think a large part of what makes the original so horrifying is because it could be a true story. There is nothing about it I can recall that is not plausible, even for the time it was made. There is no real supernatural activity or reason to think that the sacrifice and the rituals actually do anything - it's just faith, but in an "old religion" whose pagan imagery are still all over the UK. The songs are probably all actual old pagan songs, or adapted from similar ones. Part of Woodward's horror, the more he learns about the village, is the realization that his faith is not enough in a world where no one cares about it or takes it for granted as the truth. Maybe one day we'll see a remake where a heroic Scientologist (I assume played by Tom Cruise, surviving on the "donated" organs of lesser members) visits a small town where everyone is still Baptist, and they nail him to a cross to try to bring their saviour back.

For those who enjoyed it and want more but in different media, I highly recommend the XTC album Apple Venus and its companion piece, Wasp Star, but especially Apple Venus.

 

I also highly recommend a two-issue story from the early days of the DC/Vertigo title Hellblazer, issues 25 and 26, in which John Constantine visits a northern town with much the same issues. Lovely art by V for Vendetta's David Lloyd, and one of the creepiest stories I can remember in comics.

 

 

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Glad I finally watched this and I can check it off my pop culture to-do list.

At first, I wished they had played up the mystery/detective angle a bit better, but I guess it's befitting his his "fool" image?  

Also, I was hoping the special fruit trees that were developed for the island was something cooler than apples 😅

And...I just have to say I kept being distracted by Howie's ear hair.  

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35 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Also, I was hoping the special fruit trees that were developed for the island was something cooler than apples 😅

 

Like what if it were honey...

giphy.gif

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

Like what if it were honey...

giphy.gif

I need to watch the Nic Cage version.  It's a comedy, right?  

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Did anyone else recognize the actress Britt Ekland who plays Willow is also Mary Goodnight, a Bond girl from The Man with the Golden Gun?  And guess who plays the main villain, Scaramanga?  🤯

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Yea the worst Bond movie! (I know a few of you disagree.)

I finally watched this last night/this morning, and I don't even know. It's just SO weird and unique, I can't even get my head around it. I enjoyed it though, probably because of that. If it was this story but trying to shock or be more frightening instead of just slightly askew, I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much.

I definitely do not consider it a horror film, but in looking up some things I see that "folk horror" is a thing and I am curious to see more of this. I'm not a horror fan but these definitely would be more my bag. Here's the definition:

Folk horror films are typically Horror movies that focus on the fear of pagan folklore by a mostly orthodox Christian society. The heathen traditions are presented as enticing and liberating, in contrast to the puritanism of mainstream religion, but at the same time they degenerate into increasingly darker rituals, involving sacrifices to unspeakable entities, black magic and sexual obscenities.

This brand of movies takes cues from other horror genres but is fundamentally different. Unlike Supernatural Horror films, folk horror movies very rarely feature actual paranormal events, in order to focus more on the actions of the people rather than on uncanny apparitions. The evil is usually entirely human and the horror is carried out by ordinary members of the society.

The so-called "unholy trinity" of folk horror films are Witchfinder General (1968), The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), and The Wicker Man (1973), the latter often cited as the most popular one.

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15 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Yea the worst Bond movie! (I know a few of you disagree.)

 

Are you sure you wanna go down that rabbit (hare?) hole?

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1 hour ago, tomspanks said:

Did anyone else recognize the actress Britt Ekland who plays Willow is also Mary Goodnight, a Bond girl from The Man with the Golden Gun?  And guess who plays the main villain, Scaramanga?  🤯

The weird thing is that I recognize Britt Ecklund but didn't appreciate Christopher Lee with Golden Gun at all. 

1 hour ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Yea the worst Bond movie! (I know a few of you disagree.)

I finally watched this last night/this morning, and I don't even know. It's just SO weird and unique, I can't even get my head around it. I enjoyed it though, probably because of that. If it was this story but trying to shock or be more frightening instead of just slightly askew, I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much.

I definitely do not consider it a horror film, but in looking up some things I see that "folk horror" is a thing and I am curious to see more of this. I'm not a horror fan but these definitely would be more my bag. Here's the definition:

Folk horror films are typically Horror movies that focus on the fear of pagan folklore by a mostly orthodox Christian society. The heathen traditions are presented as enticing and liberating, in contrast to the puritanism of mainstream religion, but at the same time they degenerate into increasingly darker rituals, involving sacrifices to unspeakable entities, black magic and sexual obscenities.

This brand of movies takes cues from other horror genres but is fundamentally different. Unlike Supernatural Horror films, folk horror movies very rarely feature actual paranormal events, in order to focus more on the actions of the people rather than on uncanny apparitions. The evil is usually entirely human and the horror is carried out by ordinary members of the society.

The so-called "unholy trinity" of folk horror films are Witchfinder General (1968), The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), and The Wicker Man (1973), the latter often cited as the most popular one.

You might want to check out The Witch. It doesn't quite fit the definition of folk horror you have here but it's pretty close. I was just okay on it but everyone horror fanatic I know can't praise it enough.

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