YMMV / The Wicker Man

The Original Film Provides Examples Of:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: There are two camps for Howie's character -
    • Howie is a mostly reasonable police officer investigating the disappearance and possible death of a little girl. He's understandably frustrated when the community blatantly refuses to cooperate and act more and more suspicious as times goes on. Or...
    • He's an Asshole Victim that hates the villagers for being pagans.
    • Or you can combine the two. Howie is a good cop who also happens to be a bit of a morally upright prude who despises the islanders for being pagans. Murderous, perverted, gullible, two-faced pagans who deceived him to his death.
    • Similarly, it's up to the viewer to decide whether Lord Summersisle has pagan beliefs or is a cynic using pagan beliefs to his own end.
  • Awesome Music: Whether or not you like folk music, it's difficult to deny that the soundtrack fits the film like a glove and adds a great deal to the feel of the island.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Was that naked crying woman on the grave ever explained?note 
    • In the extended version, we see a group of young islanders out on the village green, having sex. Horny as the island is, it seems odd that they would all choose to do so at the same time, so there's most likely some ritual reason for it, something to do with the approaching May Day. She's just visiting her lover, as all the other women in the scene were doing.
    • Why was that woman nursing a baby while sitting on a grave with an egg in her hand?
      • As Robin Hardy told Alan Cumming in a 2009 BBC Four special, Scotland on Screen, it was a fertility ritual; she was hoping for another baby.
    • There's one bit that was never filmed that definitely would've fit this trope: the film crew approached a local man named Jimmy Kirkpatrick, who was to play a man who would don a dinner jacket, act crazy, walk across a bridge, and jump into a river (it is presumed that this would've occurred on the mainland). The scene was never shot, because the weather turned bad, and the river was at half-tide when the scene was supposed to be shot. It doesn't appear in the script at all, so, it seems that it was thought of during filming.
  • Ear Worm: The Maypole song.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • "The Landlord's Daughter" and "Willow's Song" are both based on actual ditties - the latter a compilation of two - that are Older Than Dirt. In fact, the latter is considered one of the oldest recorded songs in the world.
    • Lord Summerisle's kilt seems to be made of the tartan of Clan Morrison (a detail confirmed in the novelization), which introduces the possibility that he might be Rowan's uncle (or other blood relative).
  • Hollywood Pudgy: The script and the novel suggest that Alder MacGregor is supposed to be quite rotund, but he's played the rather averagely-built Lindsay Kemp.
  • It Was His Sled: These days any first-time viewer is probably already well-aware of how it will end (the Foregone Conclusion nature of the film's title doesn't help). But it's the way the ending is presented, and the context set up by the rest of the film, that makes it so powerful.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Arguments can be made for Lord Summerisle, who manipulates the entire population of his island to help him manipulate Howie, managing to come across as really evil but so damn affably so.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Word of God has gone on the record to say, no matter how appealing you find Summerisle and how irritating Howie might be, the murderous pagan cult in this film is not supposed to be considered good at all. But there are some neopagan viewers who don't get this...
    • Also, some neopagan viewers hate the movie because the pagans are the bad guys and the paganism in general is horribly misrepresented in the movie. But actually, the reason behind this particular group of pagans going bad is given in great detail by Lord Summerisle in the movie, and isn't supposed to represent all pagans - the pagan cult was created by Lord Summerisle's grandfather based on the limited knowledge of paganism available in the Victorian Era in order to motivate the villagers to work for him. Modern knowledge of paganism has advanced far beyond what was known in Victorian times and modern pagans do not have a cult leader actively manipulating them with spurious beliefs.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Some viewers can't get past Howie's prudish religious/authoritative behavior and consider him an Asshole Victim by the end, but putting all religion and whatnot aside, he is the only character in the film who is trying to save a life (or at least thinks he is), while the affable islanders have manipulation and murder on their minds.
    • It's also worth noting that Howie doesn't initially act religiously intolerant toward the islanders; he just ignores their paganism the best he can and tries to do his police work. It's only when the islanders keep on dicking around with him and not cooperating that his anger brings out the uglier side of his religious views.
    • Putting religion aside, most of what the community does would outrage or at least shock the average joe, let alone a devout, strict, churchgoer. A little kid who tortures an insect for no apparent reason... a bunch of people engaging in public sex... a woman sitting naked in a graveyard... very young adolescent girls dancing naked in broad daylight...
  • Squick: During the film's US release, Christopher Lee did a radio spot, playing a post-film Lord Summerisle responding to allegations toward him and his cult of murder with "We love the flesh, even as it BURNS! ...Aaaah, the sweet smell of burning flesh!"
  • Tear Jerker: Many people say that Howie's horrible fate has reduced them to tears. One girl who had never seen the film before watched Paw Dugan's review of it on That Guy with the Glasses.com, and commented that the clips of the final scene made her bawl, and that it also made her decide to never watch the film in its entirety.

The Wicker Tree Provides Examples Of:

  • Sequelitis: Hardy hoped to make a Wicker Man trilogy. The "spiritual sequel", 2011's The Wicker Tree, was heavily criticized for bad acting, what many saw as a poor script by Hardy, and bad logic. Many felt Christopher Lee's cameo was a letdown, since it was so short, and also seemed to be a case of Throw It In, just to say that Christopher Lee was in the film. Its star, newcomer Brittania Nicol, had never been in a film or television production of any kind before filming - and hasn't since. Some feel that the remake is better than this film. Hardy's attempt to crowdfund the third film, The Wrath of the Gods, fell flat on its face, and his death in 2016 likely spelled an end to any hopes of it ever making it to the screen.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: As argued by 1000 Misspent Hours, the film suffers a lot for being indecisive about whether it's an actual continuation of The Wicker Man:
    "The most promising element of this movie is Sir Lachlanís shabbily dishonest attitude toward his peopleís pagan traditions, but Hardy canít really engage with that unless heís prepared to offer a straight answer to the question of sequel or retread. If Sir Lachlan really is the fourth Lord Summerisle, then he isnít just a murderous, conniving asshole ó heíd also be the evil antithesis of his great-grandfather, who espoused a religion he never believed in for the sake of downtrodden people whose lives he sought to improve. Thereís genuine resonance to that, but Hardy doesnít seem interested in pursuing it. Nor does he seem interested in the equally important question of how the people of Tressock came to be pagans. The picture painted by the film changes rather drastically depending on whether Tressock represents a long-forgotten survival of pre-Christian culture, or the result of an eccentric modern experiment in social engineering. To tell a story is to create a world. If you canít commit to that world, then you canít commit to the story either.
    And that brings me to the really galling thing about The Wicker Tree, that it trips over and then ignores a quite serviceable premise for a Wicker Man sequel before proceeding to screw every pooch in the Scottish Lowlands. Remember that The Wicker Man finally resolves itself into a clash of sincerely held faiths. The Wicker Tree, however, depicts a clash of grifts in which the sincerely faithful are merely pawns. It shows Christianity and paganism alike hollowed out by power and greed, and thrown into an opposition that the leadership on neither side actually cares about, except insofar as they can turn a personal profit on it. Beth Boothby has zero qualifications for missionary work (and the techniques sheís been taught are tailor-made for failure anyway), but she gets the gig nonetheless because her pastor knows how good itíll make him look in the eyes of those who write donation checks to his church. Sir Lachlan doesnít believe for a second that the American kidsí sacrifice will restore Tressockís fertility (Steveís untainted gonads are another matter, of course), but the longer he can fob off the problem as the ire of the gods, the longer he can keep his tenants from having the groundwater tested for radioactive contamination. The Robin Hardy of 1973 could have turned that premise into something clever and powerful and engagingly sad. The Robin Hardy of 2011 seems not to have even understood what he had in his hands."

The 2006 Remake Provides Examples Of:

  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Neil LaBute claims that he was trying to show what patriarchial power dynamics would be like if the genders were reversed. Most viewers get the exact opposite vibe from the movie, thinking it's anti-feminist to absurd degrees - his intended message likely falls flat from the men having their tongues cut out in adulthood, and the ritualistic sacrifice, which are hardly present in your average patriarchal-society.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: One fan-made trailer states that The Wicker Man was actually a Stealth Parody.
  • Anvilicious: Either way you take the film's supposed moral (see above), it still comes across as this.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Wait, wait, wait. Summersisle has a website? Malus couldn't get cell reception!
  • Corpsing: Near the end, Ellen Burstyn can barely keep a straight face. Considering the dialogue and the Braveheart-esque face paint she's wearing, you can hardly blame her.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Nicholas Cage version. Violence against women has never been so hilarious.
  • Fountain of Memes
  • Ham and Cheese: Nicolas Cage's acting is as over the top as ever, but when interviewed seemed annoyed that it was assumed the film wasn't meant to be ridiculous. He maintains that the over-the-top-ness was intentional.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: This montage of scenes from the film. On their own, they're hilariously inexplicable. Viewers who saw the film have said they make even less sense in their context.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • AHHH, NOT THE BEES!!!note 
    • How'd it get burned? How'd it get burned!? HOWDITGETBURNED HOWDITGETBUUURNED!!??
      • I! DON'T! KNOW!
    • What's in the bag, a shark or something?
  • Narm: So very much:
    • Nearly every scene where Malus gets dramatic. The bit with the bees is probably the most notable example.
    • The way Malus goes around punching and kung-fu kicking all the cultists during the finale. Especially the bit where he silently walks up to the innkeeper before randomly punching her in the face.
    • Never has a little girl getting hit by a truck looked so hilarious. The fact they use it continuously doesn't help.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The weird, Braveheart face paint that the cult leader is wearing in the climax.
    • Also, this film's wicker man structure. It looks too much like an Art Deco version of a forest ranger's lookout tower.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: The original's version of Howie was disliked by many audiences because of his religious behavior. Thanks to Cage's ham-filled performance, the remake's Howie (renamed "Malus") brings life to what would otherwise be an atrociously boring film.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The remake is a bad horror movie, but it's a great comedy. Also, in his review on Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper ALMOST gives the Wicker Man a thumbs-up just because it's "a cinematic car wreck".
  • Special Effects Failure: In Cage's famous dying rant, ("No! NOT THE BEES") he screams twice that the bees are, "IN MY EYES!". We can clearly see that they're not. That, and they decided they wanted to be his beard for the night.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Moving the original movie's events to an American setting is actually an intriguing concept, but placing the story in The Other Rainforest when it's better suited for Lovecraft Country or a Southern Gothic setting was the remake's first misstep.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Played straight with the actors for the cultists. Completely averted by Nicholas Cage, who's has gone on the record saying that he quickly realized how awful the film was (which might explain some of his more goofy moments).
  • What an Idiot: The denizens of the island act as suspiciously as possible, and any rational cop would call for back-up or at least alert authorities that he was in a potentially dangerous situation so things would be investigated if he didn't come back. Even in handling the case of the missing little girl, he bungles it; waiting several hours before taking the first step of asking to be shown the last place she was seen.