The town's appointment with...The Wicker Man
The Wicker Man is a religious horror thriller, featuring fundamentalist "not before marriage, dear" Christian copper Sergeant Neil Howie (played by Edward Woodward) searching for a missing child on the isle of Summerisle, who's enigmatic community leader Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) is about to preside over the island's May Day celebrations, celebrations of an iron age Celtic nature that may or may not have a dark purpose behind them..
Released in 1973 with no great distributor support, the film had been shot actually in the autumn of 1972 - the year of my birth - around the Galloway area of South-West Scotland, with towns like Newton Stewart, Creetown and Kirkcudbright playing a major role in the filming.
Within Kirkcudbright itself, the locations featured were exteriors featured during Howie's search for the missing Rowan Morrison; the somewhat bizarre sweetie shop where Rowan's mother cured sore throats with a frog, and exteriors used for a sort of chase scene involving the policeman and a clacking "hobby horse" that played an important part in the ritual festivities.
This last sequence is of particular significance to me, because it took part smack in front of my old house where I lived with my mother. Sadly, we weren't in the town during the filming and indeed I wasn't even born, but many of the older townspeople remember the filming well; indeed I was drinking with a resident last night who had been bought a drink by Sir Christopher Lee himself during filming and who had really enjoyed the town.
Sadly Britt Eckland, who played the community, ahem, deflowerer, Willow Macgregor, was rather less of a hit with the locals for all sorts of reasons.
If you ever watch the film and know the town or see it in these pictures, you will see that it has barely changed at all since 1972, and probably not since 1872. The film is wonderful and I highly recommend it, full of traditional music and mysterious folk atmospheres suggestive of a culture long passed.
You too will share Jim Howie's horror as he reaches the end of his search, I guarantee it.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.10.15
|The harbour cottage art gallery, easily recognisable in the film|
|Mrs Morrison's sweetie shop, now a gallery too|
|Seen in the hobby horse chase|
|Also seen in the film. I lived down here.|
|Down here lived artist Donald Rudd whom I have written about previously. The hobby horse gave a clack right outside the door.|
|The town prison, or toll booth. The chase ended here.|
|Yes, it's now an art gallery as well|
|Iron collar for miscreants|