Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #8

Re: The Wicker Man (1973)

I enjoyed your review of the original Wicker Man, which was up to your usual (and high) standards of thoughtfulness. Perhaps, however, the film, without overt comment, inclines a little bit in favor of Sgt. Howie’s Christianity. As you say, the filmmakers do not clearly take sides. Nevertheless, the viewer cannot help but notice that the pagans of Summerisle are willing to kill a stranger in order to try to save themselves, while the Christian Sgt. Howie is willing to risk his own life in order to try to save a stranger. I think that a person with normal moral sensibilities will feel that Christianity comes off better.

I think it’s fair to say that a person with “normal moral sensibilities” will feel that Sgt. Howie acts decently, if also priggishly, and the Summerisle neopagans act horrifically and sadistically, if also cheerfully and enthusiastically. Are we meant to take our cues from moral actions, or from mood? Is the moral perspective the movie’s, or is it ours? I think your take is a perfectly reasonable one. I think it’s also possible to argue the other way.

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