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Headscratchers: The Wicker Man
  • While I admit to only seeing the clip from the remake of "No, not the bees!", it strikes me as kind of stupid. If people are pouring a funnel of bees onto your face shouldn't you try keeping your eyes and mouth closed, rather than shouting with your mouth wide open?
    • Well, given that he was allergic/phobic of bees (can't remember exactly what) he was probably freaked out beyond rational thought.
    • He had also just had his legs broken, and the pain probably didn't help.

  • In the original movie, why does Willow dance naked? Not that I'm complaining, but Howie can't see her, so it really doesn't help her goal of seducing him. (As for why he is so affected merely by hearing her sing and slap the wall, I'll let that go since he's a middle-aged virgin.)
    • There is an argument to be made for her making the seduction not just psychological but magical (from her perspective at least), an act of witchcraft, which in some neopagan circles is meant to be done skyclad (naked). Or she's just a nymphomaniac.
    • Possibly she's in the habit of sleeping in the nuddie. Hey, this is a village where people visit the graves of their loved ones without putting their trousers on...
    • In the longer version of that sequence, it is intercut with Lord Summerisle reciting a poem to the audience more or less first-person. It is a trippy and surreal, and should be judged accordingly.

  • In the original movie, Howie says that Lord Summerisle will be the only suitable sacrifice next year if Howie's sacrifice fails. Howie was a suitable sacrifice because he was a virgin, a fool (for coming to the island), and a king (or at least a police officer). In Lord Summerisle's case, I can see how he would be thought a fool (if Howie's sacrifice failed) and a king (or at least a Lord), but is he a virgin? Doesn't seem like his pagan religion would encourage that. And how would Howie know if he was? And even if so, since Lord Summerisle knows the ritual is coming up and doesn't have any religious hang-ups, couldn't he just, ahem ahem, make himself ineligible before Wicker Man time rolls around?
    • It's just that, while Summerisle isn't a virgin, he's the most powerful and influential person on the island. The power of your sacrifice, as I understand it, is about the value of what you're giving up. Summerisle has more value that anyone else in the village and sacrificing him would have the most signifigance.

  • In the original movie, why doesn't he just kick the door down? It's made of branches. He's bound to get captured right after, but at least he won't be burned to death (for now).
    • I think at that point he realized the hopelessness of the situation. Even if he got out of the Wicker Man, he was surrounded by the entire population of the island, all of whom wanted him to stay in there.
      • Plus, let's say he escaped and the Wicker Man burned without him. Yeah, he'd be saved from being sacrificed, but the villagers probably would have killed him out of pure spite for (in their minds) dooming their harvest.
    • Have you ever sat in a wicker chair? It's stronger than people think it is.

  • Could somebody more familiar with Scotland's legal system tell me just how big of a Jerk Ass Howie was being? Every time he tried to do anything the villagers would tell him he needed Lord Summerisle's permission, and every time, save for exhuming the body, he said that he didn't, since he was a policeman. I got the impression, given his general behavior, that at least some of the time he was wrong, or at least needed a warrant or something. Did he?
    • This Troper personally saw the movie as having something of an intentional Black and Grey Morality. The pagans clearly aren't in the right, what with the Human Sacrifice and all, but it's not afraid of showing the moral ambiguity of the religious protagonist.
    • Once he got there, he became increasingly disturbed by the behaviour of the locals, and he probably had to wonder what kind of society Lord Summerisle was fostering. Since nobody on the island (even Summerisle) was above suspicion, he probably wanted to play things close to the chest as long as he could. For all we know he had a warrant to be there (since the whole island was technically private property). At the very least, he was aware that warrants might have to be used, such as when he asked the teacher for the school registry, and she refused. He threatened to come back with a warrant, and she relented.

  • This troper only saw the infamous remake but this probably applies to the original as well: the cultists are aware that they killed a police officer, right? One who was shown informing his superior where he was going? Good luck hoping for a better harvest, because you ain't getting it, albeit for reasons unrelated to agriculture/apiculture...
    • He wasn't a wildly popular police officer, with his colleagues...
      • Wildly popular or not, the OP has a point; police officers don't tend to like it when their colleagues get murdered and tend to pull out all the stops in investigating / bringing the killer to justice, if only because a failure to do so sends the message that you can get away with killing a police officer.
    • In the original at least there's nothing from before he landed on the island, for all we know no one knew where he was going.
    • In the remake, where does it show him informing a superior? He was on vacation and had absolutely no official police business. He attempted to tell his friend shortly before arriving, but the signal cut out. No one knew and he had no jurisdiction.
      • In the extended edition, he gets a letter from an anonymous person from Summerisle asking him to come and investigate. He gets the letter from a fellow officer. Even if that wasn't a good enough lead, remember, he's a cop. If a cop is going somewhere on duty, as a matter of process he/she will report on where they're going and why, especially if they're going out of town. Cops are thorough that way. And even if for some reason he didn't do that, he flew there. He would've had to plot his course before leaving, and at some point he would have to be in communication with some form of air traffic control, who would have records of where he was headed. Take your pick, someone had to know where he was going.
      • Since all the villagers were in it together, all they had to do was all memorise a simple story 'Oh Howie, yes he came here. He looked for the girl. We told him was dead, look, he's all the documentation. He went back home" Good luck trying to break down that story.
      • Well, except for the fact that Howie himself is both MISSING and DEAD (which means that bullshit stories about him simply going back home aren't gonna fly). Seriously, if a guy goes to a place, and then completely disappears off the map, people are gonna get suspicious about said place. If nothing else, rumors will spread, and people will avoid the island like it has the plague. Hell, the police might send in a full and better-prepared squad (complete with radio for contacting the outside world in case anything goes wrong) if the island is ever involved again in a missing persons case.
      • He flew in on a tiny seaplane. Those things have accidents all the time *wink, wink*
    • Howie briefly brings this up before his sacrifice in the original, and Lord Summerisle responds with "there will be no traces". So the villagers have some cover-up planned.
    • He's on an island. If he "went fishing" in a crappy rowboat then it would be easily plausible if the body were never found.
  • I think the point of this entire exercise is: the villagers very likely screwed themselves over.
    • Yeah that was my interpretation too. They're not getting their harvest and they're pretty much all going to jail.

  • "Here lies [name I forget], protected by the ejaculation of serpents". Is uh, is this supposed to be literal? Because this is really bugging me.
    • Simplifying a bit, druids were said to carry magic amulets which protected them from harm. The amulets, supposedly, were made from the ejaculation of serpents, solidified, which the druids had to steal from said serpents in a protracted and difficult fashion. Presumably, it means she was buried with such an amulet. Or, you know, someone just thought it would sound cool to say so.

  • I'm curious, does Lord Summerisle actually believe in his pagan religion or not? He knows full well that it was cooked up by his Victorian scientist grandfather, apparently as a way to keep the islanders under control. I can see why he'd pay along in public to retain his status as Priest-King of the island, but why does he seem to keep slipping in and out of belief when he's talking privately to Howie?
    • He grew up with paganism. Our culture and upbringing influences how we act whether we believe in it or not.
    • He believes strongly enough to set up the ritual murder of a human being; the attitude he takes with Howie may be deliberate misdirection. The whole plan hinges on keeping Howie engaged in the search for Rowan Morrison until the time is right. Convincing Howie that he's fallen among madmen would likely make him try to call for reinforcements; even if his plane and radio have already been sabotaged by the time of his meeting with Lord Summerisle, the Islanders want Howie to come to his own death of his own (misinformed) free will, not to run and hide or come out fighting. As to whether Lord Summerisle believes sufficiently strongly to go willingly to the sacrifice himself, as Howie tells him he must when the crops fail again, well, that is quite another matter.

  • So does their whole sacrifice method actually work? I guess it must, since they keep doing it.
    • No. The Aztecs kept cutting people's hearts and throwing them down stairs, it doesn't mean it did anything.
    • In any case, they don't "keep doing it" (at least, not the wicker man part) - this is the first time their crops have failed.
    • Consider the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc - believing erroneously that since X happened after Y, X must have been caused by Y - and B.F. Skinner's "Superstition In The Pigeon". Our brains try to find patterns in the world that we can exploit; sometimes, this neural mechanism seizes on something that isn't a pattern but looks like a pattern, and convices gamblers (and serial seducers) to wear "lucky" underpants, cargo cults to build non-functional replicas of air traffic control towers, or cultures to murder people because it brings a good harvest, victory in war, an end to a plague, or whatever else seems important.

  • Why does Willow try to seduce Howie? Wouldn't the sacrifice be all-the-more likely to work if his virginity remains intact?
    • Perhaps it was a Secret Test of Character. If he hopped over to her room for a quickie, he probably wasn't "pure" enough for the harvest.
      • Isn't this the great irony? He would have saved himself if he had given into temptation.
    • Or, if she on any level feels bad about what they're doing, it could be a way to placate her guilt. Okay, she offered him an escape route and he didn't take it, her hands are clean. And if he had come into her room she'd have justified it to herself with the above 'Well, obviously he wasn't pure enough after all' train of thought.

  • How did they know Howie was a virgin? Surely, they didn't send a tip to the police station in hopes that the one virgin cop in all of the UK would come over. There was a deleted scene that holds the possibility of the pagans having a plant in the department. Since the island was so closed-off, that seems unlikely. Not only that but how did they assume they would find a virgin cop once they got the plant?
    • Perhaps they just lucked out in this regard. They needed somebody who fit the other categories of a sacrifice (authority of a king, can be made into a fool, etc.) and ran with it when he turned out to be a virgin too.
  • Yeah, but when did the islanders ever actually find that out, if not secretly before he arrived? He didn't tell them.
    • They make it clear at the end that they made sure that it was Howie specifically who came to the island. Summerisle makes it sound like someone left the island and did a lot of work finding a suitable candidate, so, while they can't be certain about his sex life, they can be certain that he's A: unmarried and B: devoutly religious, so it's a pretty safe bet that he's also a virgin.
    • It seems that Willow's attempted seduction was in fact a test to see if he was as devout as he appeared to be, and thus a virgin.
      • The morning after Willow's failed seduction, she remarks that she thought he was going to come and see her the previous night; Howie replies that he doesn't believe in sex before marriage. Presumably, a delighted Willow passed this information on.

  • If the pagan religion is not true, then how DO they grow apples on the island? The climate in the Hebrides really shouldn't be suitable.
    • "The unique combination of volcanic soil and the warm gulf stream." Even Summerisle himself does not claim that paganism is solely responsible (or even responsible at all) for the island's fecundity.

  • Is it just me, or did the fact that the villagers sabotaged Howie's plane derailed the entire plot of the film? Every other part of the movie showed Howie going willingly to his doom because of the villagers manipulating him, and the sacrifice speech tells us that that was what was going on, but then they forbid him from leaving the island, Going completely against that.
    • As I recall, when Howie discovers the villagers jacked up his plane, the dockmaster (or just a fellow on the docks perhaps) pretty bluntly tells him he could get someone to ROW him to civilization, but that it'll take quite some time for Howie to get to his superiors and get back-up; in Howie's mind that's leaving a little girl to die at that point, and he stays around and starts his search.
  • In the remake, why in God's name would Summerisle try to drown Edward? In the expectation that Willow could save him and gain his trust, maybe, but the odds were incredibly high that their willingly-attending guest would just freaking drown under the crypt. Somehow out of all the remake's stupidity, this eats at me the worst. And for that matter, what exactly is the "old way" of treating anaphylaxis? I thought at first the doctor had used an Epi Pen, perhaps the other of the two that Edward brought with him, and was glossing it as "old ways"/unspecified magic to trick him or make him feel further trapped, but when she whispers that she's going to do it his way now, when sticking the needle in him after the breathtatking NO NOT THE BEEES THEY'RE IN MY EEEEYES sequence, she seems sincere. What's up there?
    • Perhaps they thought they could revive Edward with magic if he drowned?

  • The accident at the beginning of the remake: Was there a point to that at all, other than to give Edward a reason to be mentally off the rest of the movie?
    • Standard Redemption-Quest stuff: He couldn't save that girl from burning to death but now he has been given a second chance to save Rowan from a similar fate.

  • In the original, Howie is a virgin, making him perfect for the sacrifice, and sleeping with Willow would've gotten him out of it. In the remake, Malus fathers a child with the woman who lures him to the island. How can the already-smacked around remake get what turned out to be a huge detail in the original so wrong?
    • Never mind; I read about it myself.
  • Why does Willow look concerned and worried about Rowan during his torture and demise, she made it clear she cared more about the honey harvest.
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