River Cree at Sunset
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The Wicker Man
Edward Woodward in the "Green Man" Bar, in fact the bar of the Ellangowan Hotel, Creetown. All pictures courtesy of the Ellangowan Hotel.
Click on image for larger picture.
The Wicker Man, filmed by Lion Productions in 1972/1973, remains one of the strangest works of neo-pagan imagery ever filmed. Woodward played the part of a policeman, Sergeant Howie, whose attempts to investigate a suspicious death lead to his eventual ritual sacrifice inside a wicker bonfire in the shape of a man. Other characters in the film were drawn with equal starkness; Christopher Lee took the part of the cynically-pagan Lord Summerisle and Britt Ekland was the voluptuous and rather blatant Willow MacGregor, daughter of the publican of the Summerisle pub, the "Green Man". As against that, the camera work in the film provided some beautiful scenes that transcended the blatant eroticism by highlighting the darker messages of the sacrifice and the "Wicker Man". An attempt to regain a natural innocence was destroyed by the cynicism of the grandfather of Lord Summerisle, whose manipulations were to place his descendants on a path to self-destruction. Sergeant Howie realises this in his last moments, foretelling the death of Lord Summerisle when the next harvest fails.
The real Summer Isles are a small group at the mouth of Loch Broom in the Inner Hebrides, not far by boat from Ullapool, the likely origin for Sergeant Howie's home town of 'Ullwater'. Unfortunately, the Summer Isles are now uninhabited, probably in the long past being no more than 'summer pasture' for farms on the adjacent mainland.
Lion Productions based most of its location filming near Newton Stewart, with some scenes on the Isle of Skye. The Ellangowan Hotel at Creetown provided the key interiors for the bar of the Summerisle pub the "Green Man" in the film, other filming (for graveyard and maypole scenes) being done at Anwoth Kirk by Gatehouse, about six miles away. The exterior of the "Green Man" was another public house in Gatehouse and some street filming was done in Kirkcudbright.
The grimmest sequences - Sergeant Howie's ill-fated attempt to rescue Rowan Morrison - who decoys him to his death - and the burning of the Policeman in the infamous "Wicker Man", - were filmed near Burrow Head, some forty miles south and west of Creetown near the Isle of Whithorn. Apparently some parts of the movie set still remain, though now almost rotted away.
Visitors to Creetown can stay at the Ellangowan Hotel, from there exploring the locations in Kirkcudbright, Gatehouse, Newton Stewart and Burrow Head used in the film. The rather lusty bar-room songs of the "Green Man" are being re-enacted in the bar, although a concert of all the music used in the film would be a real treat. Re-enactions of Willow McGregor's nude dances and 'initiations' would probably not be permitted; they appear to have been filmed in studio sets, somewhere at Sorbie in the Machars.
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Last updated 30th April 2000.