“The Wicker Tree” and “The Wicker Man”
Don’t count on me for breaking pop-culture news. That Pagan classic film The Wicker Man was released in 1973, but I did not see it until the mid-1980s.
I always say that I missed the 1980s in pop-culture terms. Part of that was due to graduate school and a general turn away from or just not caring so much about music, movies, etc. And catching up on the 1970s, evidently.
I did finally see The Wicker Tree, which sort of re-uses the first movie’s plot. (Here is an article connecting them published before the newer film’s release: “The Wicker Tree: The Return of the Pagan World.”)
Thanks to Netflix, I am only two years behind instead of ten years or more.
As Star Foster noted in one of her blog posts about the newer wicker flick, in comparison with The Wicker Man, “Robin Hardy played a brilliantly cruel joke on us by giving us more sympathetic victims and utterly vicious Pagans.”
I see a huge difference between the two, but I don’t know if it is not due merely to my being more prepared for the second film. When I saw The Wicker Man, I honestly did not know where it was going. Sgt. Howie’s search for the missing girl was sincere, and there was no cinematic villain in sight.
In The Wicker Tree, Sir Lachlann and his lady were more obviously sinister and villainous, while the young Texas evangelical Christians were of course portrayed as innocent and clueless. It’s probably in the secret Filmmakers Code somewhere: “All missionaries are either evil or deluded.” (Before the 1960s, missionaries or wannabe missionaries might be heroic, but not since then.)
You have to be clueless yourself if you cannot see where it is going from the young couple’s arrival in Scotland. The plot hits you in the face with the subtlety of a fresh-caught herring.
Pagans liked The Wicker Man because many could imagine themselves in a place like Summerisle. Not so this time around.