The Wicker Man’ is a 1973 British folk horror film directed by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, and Christopher Lee. The screenplay by Anthony Shaffer, inspired by David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual, centres on the visit of Police Sergeant Neil Howie to the isolated Scottish island of Summerisle in search of a missing girl. Howie, a devout Christian, is appalled to find that the inhabitants of the island have abandoned Christianity and now practice a form of Celtic paganism.
Police Sergeant Neil Howie journeys by seaplane to the remote Hebridean island Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, Rowan Morrison, about whom he has received an anonymous letter. Howie, a devout Christian, is disturbed to find the Islanders paying homage to the pagan Celtic gods of their ancestors. They copulate openly in the fields, include children as part of the May Day celebrations, teach children of the phallic association of the maypole, and place toads in their mouths to cure sore throats. The islanders appear to be trying to thwart his investigation by claiming that Rowan never existed.
Paul Giovanni composed the film score.
The Wicker Man is well-regarded by critics. Film magazine Cinefantastique described it as “The Citizen Kane of horror movies”, and in 2004, Total Film magazine named The Wicker Man the sixth greatest British film of all time. It also won the 1978 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.