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Thirteen Surprising Facts About 'The Wicker Man' (with Just a Wee Bit of Snarkiness from the Blogger)

Yes folks, it's time for your annual appointment with...the Wicker Man.

(No, not the one with Nicholas Cage!)


The role of Sergeant Howie was originally offered to actor Michael York. He turned it down.*

American composer Paul Giovanni, who wrote the film's strikingly memorable score, was the boyfriend of director Anthony Shaffer's brother Paul at the time. That's how Shaffer knew him.

Though set at Beltane, the film was actually filmed in mid-October. Between takes of the bonfire-leaping scene, the naked schoolgirls had to be bundled up in blankets to warm them up.

Because of the cold temperatures, while shooting many of the outdoor scenes, the actors had to hold ice cubes in their mouths so that their breath wouldn't smoke.

The blooming apple trees are all artificial. Because the budget was so tight, they had to keep moving the few trees that they had for the sweep shots of the orchards.

The phallic topiary, however, was all real. It was filmed at Hush House Manor in Kent, home of actor David Kennings (who had also been offered the role of Howie and turned it down).

Rowan and Howie's escape through the caves was shot at Wookey Hole caves in Somerset, home of the famous Witch of Wookey.

Edward Woodward (Howie) actually broke a toe on a rock while being dragged to the Wicker Man. (Technically, this injury should have disqualified him as a sacrifice, but of course—as their pastiche paganism suggests—these are neo-pagans we're talking about.)

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Rebuking Lord Summerisle

Lord Summerisle, I have a bone to pick with you.

So, they're dragging Sergeant Howie off to be burned in the Wicker Man.

"Don't you see?" Howie cries to you. "When it doesn't work, next year they'll come for you!"

He says that to you, Lord Summerisle, and you say nothing in response. Instead you look nonplussed, as if such a thing had never even crossed your mind.

Shame on you, Summerisle. Shame on you.

You have no right to be king if you're not willing to die for your people. That's the price of a crown. The only worthy sacrifice is a willing sacrifice, as you should have known before you lured an innocent victim (however obnoxious) in from the Mainland to be your surrogate.

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Remembering Beech Buchanan

Contains material some readers may consider inappropriate for discussion in a public forum.


Thank Goddess, it's that time of year again.

Planting Time.

Time to frig in the fields to make the crops grow.

Gentlemen, don't forget: onto the ground.

That's just how these things are done.


Of course, such love isn't just for Planting Time, harvest, or taking seisin (buying land).

It's also for funerals.

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  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    Why the disclaimer at the top? Just curious.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Overheard in April

Officer, hel-lo. Welcome to Paganistan.

How was your flight?

I can't tell you how delighted we are to have you here with us for our Beltane celebrations this year.

Absolutely delighted.

Care for some cider? Paganistan's finest.

If you'll just come with me, you really must see this year's Wicker Man. He's taken our artists more than a month to construct. I really do believe he's our most impressive yet.

Yes, indeed. So massive, yet so beautiful. Just look at those antlers.

A closer look? Certainly, certainly.

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A Muppet Wicker Man

Well, it's that time of year again.

Bealtaine is coming, and throughout Greater Pagandom theaters far and wide are gearing up for their May Eve midnight showings of The Wicker Man.

(Not the one with Nicholas Cage, specify the marquees.)

But you've never seen The Wicker Man until you've seen:

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Overheard at a Party

Morrison. Robert. Charmed, I'm sure. Yes, Lord Summerisle, fancy you knowing that. Ah yes, the Guardian article: not a very flattering photo, I'm afraid. Although back on island these days they call me “Summerisle” tout court. Apparently John Donne was wrong about the whole “no man is an island” business.

Oh, no politics, please. I find that the only way to survive psychologically as an MP is to maintain a strict separation between business and pleasure. What happens in the House of Lords, stays in the House of Lords, we always joke.

Yes, thank you. Finest fruit in the EU, I quite agree. Have you tried the new American Honeycrisp, by any chance? A fine apple, if I may say. Approaching Summerisle quality, though not there quite yet. Although of course I'm afraid total objectivity in these matters quite escapes me, as you'll understand.

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