Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Are you the victim of mind control?
A simple test that helps to determine if the group you or a loved on are involved in could be considered a cult.
|Featuring:||Nicolas Cage, Leelee Sobieski, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Christa Campbell|
|Producer:||Nicolas Cage, Norman Golightly, Avi Lerner, Randall Emmett, John Thompson, Boaz Davidson|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.|
Before his role in the “Lord of the Rings” Christopher Lee said that the 70s cult film “Wicker Man” was the best film in which he had ever been. Those familiar with the cult film know that it was a bizarre mixture of paganism, folk music, perversion, and Christianity. The hero of the film was a devout Christian, and the twist ending was emotionally effective; especially for a Christian. However, the movie was so depraved (with much eroticism and blasphemy) that I could never recommend to a believer.
When I first heard that they were doing a remake “The Wicker Man,” I had no interest in seeing the movie, but when it was made clear that the film would be PG-13 I became intrigued. Could they remove the elements which hampered the original and make a pseudo-Christian horror film? I doubted it, but decided to allay my skepticism and see what the producers did with the story.
The plot involves a police officer who investigates the disappearance of a young child. His investigation leads to a small island community which practices bizarre rituals. Soon the officer begins to suspect that these pagans may be hiding the young girl and planning a human sacrifice.
Let me begin by saying that Christianity has been completely and totally removed from the movie in every possible sense. The most startling example of this is discussed in a spoiler section below. Consequently, the movie is itself an ironic example of our society. Critics have even attacked the movie for its “anti-paganism” and “anti-feminism,” and yet the movie reflects (incidentally) an anti-Christian bias by its deliberate omissions.
It is quite interesting that the critics have already labeled the movie as misogynist on account of the fact that the movie emphasized the feminine nature of paganism. This is actually a very realistic portion of the movie. The ancient pagan religious practices found in Wicca and other occult religions (better known as “witchcraft” in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:10-14) are emphatically feminist religions that demean the role of men in the same way that men are often accused of demeaning women.
The men in this movie never speak, and hints are given that they have had their tongues cut out. They exist solely for manual labor and to provide the means to reproduce. This aspect, the sexual aspect, was downplayed in this version as the director strove for a PG-13 rating. There is a mention of the “phallic symbol,” but little else of an explicit nature. Once again, this is an accurate portrayal of paganism. The Ashteroth poles which Solomon is believed to have built for his pagan wives (and was judged for having built) were, in fact, giant phallic symbols (c.f. 1 Kings 11:7-8), around which the pagans practiced their deviant sexual rituals. Although depicted in the original, the remake thankfully excised this from the movie.
Along with the blatant paganism and phallic reference, the movie contains ten instances of foul language including the F-word once and twice shouting “G-d D-.” There is also some violence including a gruesome scene of a man who had his lips sewn shut, and his eyes plucked out. Another scene shows a grossly deformed man who has apparently been subjected to numerous bee stings. We also hear the cracking of legs being broken in one scene. There are some strong sexual suggestions, including having a baby out of wedlock, but nothing explicit is shown. Finally, the hero is constantly shown popping pills of some kind which lead to several hallucinations throughout the film.
It is obvious to any who have seen the original that the Christian police detective of the original has been replaced with a pill popping detective who is revealed to be the true father of the missing child, Rowan. This is a particularly interesting change since the original movie placed an emphasis upon the officer’s sexual virtue and chastity! This leads to the most startling example of why this movie fails on so many levels…
***SPOILER*** Those who saw the original will already know the “shock” ending to this film. It is not the little girl that the pagans want to sacrifice, but Detective Edward Malus. This was not only the most effective part of the original, but also what made his Christian faith so relevant. As the pagans were about to burn him in the Wicker Man, Malus declared (in the original version), “I know Christ our Lord. If I die I will know life eternal” or something to that effect. Christopher Lee then responds with the words, “Then we bestow on you a rare gift these days; martyrdom. You will sit with the saint in heaven.” Now this is brought up because the remake replaces this dialogue Malus crying “God no …God no …God no.” The lord of Summerville Isle then inexplicably says, “We make you a martyr. You will sit with the gods and goddesses.” Such an absurd remark reflects how important Malus’ faith was to the original, and how inane the idea of martyrdom without Christ truly is.
The original Malus died spouting Scripture and warning the lord of Summerville of the coming judgment. The new Malus dies hopelessly and uselessly. The original Malus was a “virgin” sacrifice. The new Malus is the father of the child. We felt compassion for original Malus as he died. We felt nothing as the new Malus died.
This was the most obvious failure of the remake. “Sacrifices must be made” was the tagline of the movie. What a wonderful tagline that could have been had Malus’ death been shown in the context of Christian martyrdom. Even as our forefathers laid down their lives for the faith of Christ Jesus, the tagline could have, and should have, become double entendre for the sacrifice of Christ and even those of his disciples throughout the ages. As it is, the pagans won. Malus’ death meant nothing. ***END SPOILER***
Cinematically, the director has some talent, but fails to deliver. He does not seem to know how to bring the audience into the story and make them feel a part of what is going on around them. In the original, I felt compassion for Rowan and for Detective Malus. In this version, I didn’t care. The slower pace is meant to make it feel more like a mystery, but really just makes it tedious. Nothing about this remake stands out above the original. Even the odd choice of moving the location to America seems out of place. Indeed, they must explain at one point in the movie that the pagans fled England to Salem. In that way, they could place the old pagan religion of England in the U.S., but it simply isn’t believable.
In the end, I cannot really recommend this film. If someone has not seen the original, he may find this a worthy rental, but it would still not be worth seeing in the theaters.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.