“The Wicker Man Returns”?! This is blasphemy, simply blasphemous!

Could they miss the point of the original movie any more than turning the idea of the the wicker man into some sort of boogey man?

Nicholas Cage has decided to star in the remake of The Wicker Man (originally done in 1973) being directed by Neil La Bute. The movie is expected to be released in September 2006.

Like the original script, the cop (Sergeant Howie in the original and Edward Malus in the remake) is lead to SummerIsle (spelt differently than the original, and located in the U.S. instead of the British Isles as in the original) where he finds it bizarre that no one seems to remember the girl he was sent to find. That is probably as close to the original script the remake will get. (I’ll find out if this is true after the movie is released on DVD. As I don’t intend to watch this in the theatres, I will probably just watch the DVD version, and then make a comparison to the original.)

According to one review, a major difference in the remake is that Malus is not a virgin. This was apparently changed because the director did not think people would believe any grown man is a virgin in this day and age. This is a big clue that the director obviously did not understand the original movie to begin with. The original movie, although labeled as a horror flick, was an intellectual treat. Apparently, the original movie was too intellectual for director Neil La Bute. The original character was a virgin because the sacrifice had to be a virgin in accordance with ancient pagan rites as depicted in the movie. When sacrificing to the gods, the sacrifice had to be as pure and as innocent as possible. (Of course, in modern times, the idea of sacrifice is slightly different. A sacrifice would be something of high value to the person making a sacrifice. For example, someone might paint a beautiful picture and then burn it, or someone might shave their head, or someone might give up their favourite food for a time.) This whole idea of the virgin sacrifice was a key point in the original movie. In fact, if the virgin cop had decided to sleep with the local temptress (portrayed by Britt Ekland), he would have been an impure sacrifice; and therefore, his life would have been spared. The people of Summerisle would have had to find another sacrifice. This, of course, plays out very well in the original movie as the audience watches a humourous depiction of a man struggling hard to hold onto his virtue as a pious Christian. Changing the cop to a non-virgin in the remake leaves the audience with a pretty uninteresting character to watch. This also leaves the remake to rely mostly on the typical Hollywood spook effects in order to keep the audience captivated. (Though, of course, if you’re like me and get bored of the typical Hollywood spook effects, this will not captivate you.)

Another difference in the remake is the removal of the religious conflict – that is, the pagan versus the Christian. The original movie was obviously a commentary on these two religious practices, which when taken to both their extremes are completely polar opposites to each other. The original movie portrays both extremes very well. You have the pious Christian who’s still a virgin. Then you have the nature-loving pagans who accept sex for what it is and who also accept that their god demands a hefty sacrifice every so often. According to director Neil La Bute, the pagans have been slightly changed in the remake. The pagans are a little more “Dionysian” in nature, that is, they are a little more rowdy and probably amoral (whereas the ones in the original movie thought they were doing the “right” thing to satisfy their deities). As for the cop, he’s an upstanding police officer who just wants to do the “right thing”. (I have no idea if he’s supposed to be Christian or not in the movie.) As with the removal of the sexual tension, these changes leave the movie to rely once again on Hollywood spook effects to captivate the audience. This now brings me back to my first comment and probaby most important comment.

The wicker man is not a boogey man figure. The wicker man was originally burned as an effigy in pagan practices and was usually done for Beltane, a festival for spring, celebrating the return of earth’s fertility and abundance. The wicker man is a tall wooden structure made in the shape of a man using flexible wood such as willow. It was rumoured that live animals and sometimes humans were locked inside the wicker man to be burned along with the effigy (just as was depicted in the original version of The Wicker Man). This idea has little evidence aside from the one account from Julius Caesar regarding Druidic practices. Although not true in reality, the live sacrifice did make the ending in the original movie quite interesting. The remake of the movie differs completely in regard to what the wicker man is. From the trailer for the remake we hear someone say, “The Wicker Man returns”, and then Nicholas Cage’s character asking, “Who is the Wicker Man?” – as if the wicker man really is a manifested boogey man. To bring this point home, Neil La Bute has stated that he is considering re-naming his remake Wicker Man with no “the”, implying a title like Candyman. (I remember not being able to look into my bathroom mirror for about a month after watching that movie, but that was when I was much younger and less desensitized about horror films.)

Unfortunately for Neil La Bute, many thought the original was “completed so well” that it did not need a remake, especially not this one. Considering all things so far, it seems this remake has nothing new to offer except your typical Hollywood spook effects. I suppose even the wonderfully sensual “Willow’s Song” will be gone from the remake, since there’s no virgin for the local temptress to… well, tempt.

Review by Cassandrah, your local pagan

Additional links:

Wikipedia article on The Wicker Man (1973 film)
www.cagebypage.com movie news
IMDB entry on the remake
Remake trailer

One Response to ““The Wicker Man Returns”?! This is blasphemy, simply blasphemous!”

  1. fey_morgaina Says:

    Additional link:

    Interview with Robin Hardy, the director of the original movie

    Cassandrah

    [Reply]

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