The Wicker Man is a great film. It slowly and meticulously deconstructs the idea of religion. Initially it mocks paganism then slowly it turns its attentions towards Christianity. By the end you are left with a picture of the world which is more relevant now than it was when the film was made. A hugely influencial film, it stayed with me long after I'd finished watching it.
The film itself suffered immense difficulties once it had been made as the Hollywood system almost appeared to conspire against it. There was a load of insane politics surrounding the length of the film, which genre it should belong to and how it should be distributed in America. There were loads of different cuts of it. Listen to the commentary on the DVD release to get an insight into the nonsense.
When I heard they were doing a remake of this much maligned and misunderstood film I had two responses. My cynical side said: "Obviously going to be s#it". My optimistic side said: "Hey, if they stick 100% to the original script it could be really good. A chance to right some of the wrongs of history!". Which side do you think was right? Here's a text message off a mate of mine after I told him I'd just been to see it:
"What were u thinking?! It has a bear in it or something?"
He's a bigger fan of the original film than I am and I was impressed that he'd dismissed this newer version as the obvious cash in nonsense that it was. I had to agree with the sentiment, what did I expect from it?
Here's my review of the film. Not so much a review as a -WHAT THE F#CK WAS THAT ABOUT?- rant.
Firstly they've substantially changed the film and subdued any trace of the original to almost confusingly silly plot cameos. Little nods and references to the original which frankly do not sit well at all. Here are the major changes:
- The main character is not a virgin.
- Nor is he even remotely religious.
- The pagan religion which dominates the island (now located in america) is focused upon the feminist principle.
- The main character is drawn their not by the plight of a young girl but instead by an ex-girlfriend who has told him he's got a daughter on the island.
- He has a mobile phone which works towards the end of the film.
There are other deviations but these are the ones which really stuck in my throat.
Firstly the top two alterations pull the rug out from underneath the meaning of the film. He no longer represents anything other than an 'everyman' figure. He's a bloke who could be you. If, of course, you are female. This brings me on to the biggest problem I have with this film, he's an everyman with a capital "MAN". This is by far the most repugnantly sexist film I've ever watched. By switching the focus from paganism to a cult which worships the sacred feminine coupled with a grim silence as regards christianity they've done a film which critiques only a fictional maternal religious order. The result of this is a hamfisted "wouldn't the world be rubbish if it were run by women" diatribe.
It gets as close to comedy as you can actually get... without being funny. Towards the end of the film our hero Nick Cage delivers kung-fu kicks to women shouting "die you bitches" before we are treated to a black screen. Silence. Then we hear a crunching sound and he shouts "ow, you've broken my legs".
I can't think how it was allowed to happen but I've got a pretty good idea. If you've ever watched those mildly amusing Orange mobile phone adverts which usually preceed the main film you'll know where I'm going here. I think the people who made this film are those people. The committee who sit around saying things like:
"Hey this Wicker Man thing. My brother in law likes it, lets remake that."
"Whats it about?"
"Some religious guy goes and gets killed by some people on an island or something."
"Could he have a mobile phone?"
"Hey, lets mix in some of that Da Vinci Code stuff. You know, the sacred feminine or something."
"Let's not have him being religious though. We want this film to sell in the bible belt as well. Maximum exposure."
"Do you think they'll let it go out as a 12a?"
Urrgh. I suddenly feel very depressed.