Sergeant Howie lands his seaplane in the harbor of the isolated insular closed community Summerisle, following up on a handwritten letter reporting a missing child. Howie pushes against the unwelcoming dwellers in search of the truth, uncovering the diabolical nature of the local spiritual traditions.
Hammer Horror veteran Christopher Lee stars as the island’s spiritual leader, with Edward Woodward as the rigid conservative Sergeant.
With a British Isles folk music soundtrack that evokes Celtic and pagan undercurrents, and a teeming midsummer sensuality, “The Wicker Man” places Howie’s seaplane borne Christianity in conflict with ancient prehistoric heathenism in a highly charged and symbolic struggle, replete with Boschean costumed pageantry, ribald barroom drinking songs, and a maypole dance.
Who can forget the show-stopping “Willow’s Song” which forms a kind of central phallic pylon of the film, if you will, as the naked Britt Ekland dances seductively around her bedroom, hammering on the wall in an invitation to the perspiring Sergeant who struggles against the temptation in his adjoining bedroom. “Willow’s Song” in itself is a beautiful composition covered by several artists including probably the most famous version by the Sneaker Pimps, but if you’re a teenaged boy growing up in Catholic Ireland and you see this film on TV, let me tell you that scene stops time in its tracks and leaves an indelible impression. Well worth revisiting, this film is a vintage piece of British horror.