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The Wicker Man Case Study

vikiwalden | Monday November 05, 2012

Categories: A Level, EDUQAS A Level, EDUQAS AS, FM2, Films & Case Studies, Non-Hollywood Films, The Wicker Man, Genres & Case Studies, British Film, Horror


FM2: Close Study Topic

British Horror: The Wicker Man
Director: Robin Hardy
Writers: Anthony Shaffer (Screenplay), [David Pinner - Ritual novel]
Cast: Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt, Diane Cilento



Sergeant Howie, a police officer from mainland Scotland, arrives on a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, Rowan. As he tours the island, questioning residents and looking for clues, he falls deeper inside the rabbit hole – discovering customs that seem strange to him, to this era and to the Christian world.

As Howie begins to feel more suspicious and angered by the locals’ pagan ways, he suspects they are going to sacrifice Rowan in hope that their crops improve in the next year. However, so obsessed with finding the ‘missing girl’, Howie is oblivious to his own fate.

Despite several warnings to go home and not to attend the celebrations, he does so. While he is correct that the ceremony includes a human sacrifice – it is not Rowan, but him (the virgin male) who will be placed inside the wicker man. As he burns alive, alongside farmyard animals also locked up in the structure, the islanders below celebrate the ritual. 

  • Production Company: British Lion / EMI
  • Rating: X
  • Budget: £500,000
  • Date of Release: 16th October 1973

Production Details

The film was initially the property of British Lion. They operated as a ‘mini’-studio with a vertical system of production, distribution and guaranteed exhibition through Rank. However Rank was having financial difficulties when The Wicker Man was first offered to them. The exhibitor took the film on, but producers were under strict instructions to keep to a tight budget. Just days into filming British Lion collapsed and was taken over by EMI. New bosses Barry Spikings and Michael Deeley were neither keen nor interested in the “quirky? Wicker Man project. They supervised the edit and the first cut was 102 minutes.

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