- Other Works
THE WICKER MAN
Flesh to touch…Flesh to burn!
Don’t keep the Wicker Man waiting!
A Totally corrupt shocker from
the author of “Sleuth” and “Frenzy
To write about The Wicker Man in detail, would probably need a website of its own! The story of the origins and the death and rebirth of Shaffer's mystery/horror, contains as many twists and turns as the film itself. The mystery and folklore about how The Wicker Man has become a cult-classic, and regarded by many as the greatest British horror film of all time, has been well documented over the years in numerous books, articles, websites, television and DVD documentaries. Visitors who would like to learn more about the story of The Wicker Man and the various versions of the film, are urged to look at Steve Philips site The Various Versions Of The Wicker Man which is an excellent place to start.
By 1972, Anthony Shaffer had already seen some of his film scripts produced - Mr Forbush And The Penguins, Frenzy and Sleuth which, of course, was also a long running play in the West End and on Broadway. Shaffer had also written a stageplay called Play With A Gypsy, which went unproduced, so had adapted it for film. Christopher Lee had read the script and shown an interest in playing Father Goddard, a Catholic Priest being tormented by two pupils at a Catholic school. Despite talks, the film did not come about, until almost ten years later when it was made as Absolution starring Richard Burton.
Shaffer had wanted to produce something in the horror genre for some time, and looked at adapting David Pinner's novel Ritual, a story about a policeman investigating the murder of a child in a remote Cornish village. Although Pinner was paid a sum for the rights to adapt his book, Shaffer felt that it wouldn't work and so rejected the idea. Shaffer had by this time formed a consortium with Peter Snell (the managing director of British Lion) and Christopher Lee, who were looking to produce a horror film. Shaffer: "When I came to do the book I realised that it wasn't as good as I thought it was. It wasn't actually going to pay out, and so I said "Well, I'm sorry about this but I think I ought to give you chaps your money back and forget it."
However, Snell and Lee were insistent that they make a film, so Shaffer set to work with his former business partner, Robin Hardy from his days at Hardy, Shaffer and Associates. They looked at creating a new style of horror story which would not contain the usual cliches offered by most horror films of the time. Shaffer and Hardy focused on the old religion and its rites and rituals, and Hardy did extensive research into the pagan religion and sympathetic magic practices, much of his findings coming from Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough.
Hardy: "As to the pagan culture, everything you see in the film is absolutely authentic. The whole series of ceremonies and details that we show have happened at different times and places in Britain and Western Europe. What we did was to bring them all together in one particular place and time." He added: "The wicker man itself is quite real. The Druids used the structure to burn their sacrificial victims. Historically, the first mention of it is in Julius Caesar's Diaries, in 55 BC, when he noted that Roman prisoners of war were taken by the British tribes and burned as sacrifices. As far as that practice goes, sacrifice is common to every pagan religion in Europe. The Celts were by no means different from the Romans or the Greeks, or the Celtic British, now the Welsh. It was a completely universal practice."
With the research complete, Shaffer's script was presented to Snell and Lee just over ten weeks later - much quicker than the three to four months it usually took to complete a script. Shaffer: "This one came about much quicker, especially once the idea was there."
During spring 1972, British Lion were being controlled by city businessman John Bentley who was looking to split the production company from its Shepperton studios in order to sell the studio. This was causing problems with the unions who thought the studios were going to be closed, so Bentley had Snell fast-track The Wicker Man into production to show that Shepperton was still being used.
Robin Hardy and Seamus Flannery, the art director on The Wicker Man, had spent some time travelling the lengths of Scotland for suitable locations, while Snell arranged a cast and a production unit. Legendary camera man Harry Waxman was also brought on board to take charge of photography. Christopher Lee was to star as Lord Summerisle, a role specially written for him by Shaffer. Sgt Neil Howie was originally going to be played by David Hemmings, then Michael York but neither were able to commit to the project. Hammer veteran Peter Cushing was also believed to have been asked to play the part of the devout 'Christian Copper', but had other commitments. Peter Snell was keen to cast Edward Woodward due to his memorable role in Callan which was a huge success on television making him a household name. Ingrid Pitt, like Christopher Lee, was linked to the horror genre through the Hammer films and was happy to play the nymphomaniac librarian. Britt Ekland was cast with a view to attracting American audiences and her good looks were ideal for her characters role in baiting Sgt Howie. The casting of Diane Cilento as Miss Rose was Shaffer's own choice. He had seen Cilento in a play called Big Night and also in the film Tiger At The Gates and was looking to have her cast as the school teacher.
Anthony Shaffer also makes a brief cameo appearance as one of the villagers who surround Sgt Howie on the cliff top before he is lead away to meet The Wicker Man.
Filming took place in Scotland from 9th October to 25th November 1972 using various locations on the South-West coast to form the remote, picturesque island of Summerisle. Scenes were filmed at Kircudbright, Creetown, Gatehouse Of Fleet, Anwoth, Isle Of Whithorn, Logan Botanic Gardens, Castle Kennedy, Lochinch Castle and Culzean Castle. The scene where Sgt Howie arrives at the island and speaks to the harbour master and fishermen, was filmed at the village of Plockton which is actually in the North-West Highlands on Loch Carron. The scene where Sgt Howie lands his plane at the quayside and is met by Constable McTaggart (in the Directors Cut version) was shot at Stranraer. The films climax, where Sgt Howie meets his fate, was shot at Burrowhead at the end a peninsular range of hills called The Machars. This area has a strong early-Catholic association as it is believed that St Ninian arrived here to bring Christianity to the people of Scotland. St Ninian's Cave situated just a few miles further along the coast is said to be a place where he would retreat and seek solitude. The cave also appears in The Wicker Man.
Most of these locations have changed very little in the last forty eight years since the film was shot. In fact, they have become somewhat as fascinating as the film itself and many fans have taken a pilgrimage to see these locations for themselves. The library at Whithorn which served as the library and registrar's office in the film, has acknowledged the fact by fixing a plaque on the wall outside. The small boat which the harbour master uses to row Sgt Howie to and from his plane was actually called the Escapmadour and belonged to one of the fishermen in the film. This boat was based at Plockton where it remained until 2004 when it was sadly destroyed in a storm. Sgt Howie's plane, a 1970 built TSC-1A/Teal, belonged to Marinair Transport Ltd in Chichester, England and on 13th January 1973 was making her way over Biggin Hill Aerodrome when she suffered a broken cable which caused the engine to stop. The plane was landed in a field near Biggin Hill and suffered a broken undercarriage which was to be repaired. Sadly, vandals got to the plane first and set it on fire. The plane was registered as destroyed on 26th January 1973.
With shooting complete, the production unit and actors went their separate ways and it's at this point that the story of The Wicker Man begins to take the first of its many twists. During filming, British Lion was being taken over by new owners Michael Deeley and Barry Spikings who were looking to sell the company on to EMI. Robin Hardy and editor Eric Boyd-Perkins had already finished a director's cut of The Wicker Man and Peter Snell sent a copy of this to Roger Corman who liked the film and saw a market for it. Corman made an offer to distribute but British Lion's new managers weren't happy with the offer as they were looking to maximise their sale of the company to EMI. Peter Snell was removed as managing director and Robin Hardy was refused access to his film. Eric Boyd-Perkins was asked to make further cuts as the new company thought the film too long, and so Boyd-Perkins cuts some 13 or 15 minutes reducing The Wicker Man to what is now known as the 84 minute theatrical release.
In December 1973, the theatrical release was given very little promotion and placed as a double-bill movie accompanying British Lion's other horror, Don't Look Now starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.
Christopher Lee saw a preview of the film and was shocked to find that a lot of it had been cut away and crucial parts to the plot were missing. When he approached Michael Deeley about the film, Lee claims that Deeley said it was one of the ten worst films he had ever seen. Lee knew that this meant they were in trouble, so he personally called up critics of the press and invited them see the film, confident that they would give it good reviews – which they did. Deeley has stated in interviews that Lee was mistaken and he did not say this.
With the reviews being favourable and The Wicker Man receiving good publicity, Lee suggested to Hardy and Snell that they locate the missing portions of the film and look at restoring it to how it was originally intended to be. They were told by British Lion that the negatives for The Wicker Man had been sent to the vaults at Shepperton Studios, but it was soon discovered that the footage wasn’t there. The studio was clearing out its stock of old film at the time, and it’s believed that The Wicker Man's negatives and cut footage was accidentally put in with the old films and taken away to be used as landfill for the M3 motorway, which was being constructed at that time and happened to pass Shepperton Studios. However, this has been a subject of various theories and discussion over the years and, Christopher Lee has stated publicly many times, that he strongly believes that the missing film still exists today and somebody somewhere knows something about it.
Some of this missing footage includes scenes showing Sgt Howie and Constable McTaggart on the mainland closing a pub which is open after hours, then encountering an elderly prostitute busy with an elderly client in a dark alley. The scene where Sgt Howie speaks to Mrs Morrison and her daughter Myrtle was originally much longer. After Mrs Morrison offers him a cup of tea, Sgt Howie takes a look around the house and finds clothes belonging to an older child in a bedroom. Mrs Morrison explains that these belong to Holly Grimmond and so we see Sgt Howie making his way to her house to question her about the clothes. In a scene at The Green Man, just after Sgt Howie has finished his meal, we see him telling Alder MacGregor that it's past closing time, only to be told that they close when they think fit. He is told that Lord Summerisle has his own rules and they can stay open as long as they like, provided that they turn up for work on time the next day. Some scenes which were cut down include Sgt Howie talking to Willow MacGregor outside The Green Man after asking for directions to the school, talking to Miss Rose in the school room doorway about her teaching, questioning Mr Lennox the chemist and a long sequence where Lord Summerisle is showing the sergeant around his gardens talking about various apples.
Although these scenes are missing from the film, many of them did surface years later when the production's stills photographer, John Brown, came across a box of forgotten photos he took on location.
Shaffer: "There's a difference between trying to cut for plot and trying to make a journey worthwhile. We're not allowed at any time to look out of the window and see what the society is all about. If you design a film, as we did, so that the benefits and joys of a pagan society are explained, while its particular rites may not be too pleasant, you've got to take time. You need to make people believe in it; you can't just bound through it as if it were a 60-minute television play. You simply don't get the flavour of it; you no longer use your imagination. When you take out all these things, you don't merely make a slimmer picture but a less interesting one. British Lion approached it by saying, 'Oh, goodie, it's about human sacrifice.' And they suddenly shoved it out on the circuits."
In 1979 an enthusiastic US distributor, John Simon, who saw the potential of The Wicker Man as being an art house movie, set about at creating a restored version of the film with the help of Robin Hardy. They had been in touch with Roger Corman who luckily still had the print of the Director's Cut which Peter Snell had sent him for possible distribution while the British Lion takeover was taking place. The missing portions were restored and Christopher Lee and Robin Hardy set about promoting the film across the US, where it broke box office records in many cinema’s across the country. This is the version now known as 'The Director’s Cut.'
Despite its troubles, the film won the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in the US in 1979. Shaffer was nominated for Best Writing, while Robin Hardy was nominated for Best Director. Christopher Lee and Paul Giovanni were nominated for Best Actor and Best Music.
Seamus Flannery: "It was written as a melodrama, shot as a musical by the director and won science fiction award of the year!”
Christopher Lee has said many times that The Wicker Man is without doubt the best script he's ever read and the best film he's ever appeared in. Lee: "It's totally different from any kind of film that has ever been made. I’ve never seen any film even remotely resembling it in any way. I’m not just talking about the quality of the writing or the production values, the songs, the dancing or the acting and direction. It’s all outstanding, but it’s a brilliant script containing elements of paganism, muscular Christianity, martyrdom, fertility rites and earth worship.” He adds: "It’s a refreshing change for me as an actor because it enables me to play a character who is frequently kind, pleasant, entertaining and often amusing. I look different physically and the role is completely different from anything I have done before. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to show once and for all I am not bound to any specific type of character or to any specific type of picture. I’m even called upon to sing traditional songs and to take part in ritual dances as the leader."
The Wicker Man is also noted for having a unique soundtrack which was put together by Paul Giovanni, a musician and writer friend of Peter Shaffer. Giovanni was given just six weeks in which to write and perform the score as the music was needed before the actual shoot began. Giovanni turned to the work of Robert Burns and created his own arrangements of the great Scots ballads and poems to traditional Celtic folk music. Assisting him was Gary Carpenter, a graduate of The Royal College Of Music who quickly assembled a folk group of young musicians to record the music which was done at De Lane Lea, Wembley and Pye Studios in London. Post production music was recorded at Shepperton Studios. The assembled folk band can be seen in the film as can Paul Giovanni and Gary Carpenter.
Giovanni had hopes of releasing an album of the music he had recorded which sadly never came about. A bootleg quality album was released in 1998 by Trunk Records as a mono CD containing the soundtrack music and effects from the short version of the film but an official release, made from tapes owned by Gary Carpenter, appeared in 2002 by Silva Screen.
Over recent years, the music from The Wicker Man has been covered by various groups and tribute acts, and many folk artists have cited the film as being their inspiration for performing traditional and wyrd folk music. Other influences of the film have included an annual Wicker Man music festival in Scotland, TV series, such as the BBC's The League Of Gentlemen, films (including Julian Richard's Darklands) art events, sing-along-songs in local pubs and various stage productions!
The film's eventual success lead to talks by various companies of putting The Wicker Man on stage. Shaffer himself was working with a Canadian producer in 2000, on a stage version of his film. It was hoped that it would premiere in Toronto then on to New York before opening in London's West End. Sadly, the project never got much further than discussion.
See Other Works for more details about this.
Edward Woodward commented about the ongoing success The Wicker Man was enjoying: "I think if it had a major release at the time it would have been a reasonable success. I do not think, strangely enough, that it would have been the success it is - I think that the whole history of that movie is part of its strange credibility."
In 2013, Canal Plus set up a campaign to find the missing footage and release a final cut of the film, celebrating 40 years since The Wicker Man was released. The missing scenes were not found, but a fresher print of the film was made available and Robin Hardy supervised a new print of the film which restores most of the scenes from the Directors Cut in a better quality. This version is now known as the Final Cut, but to the frustration a lot of fans, is not the most complete version available! A special DVD box set containing the Theatrical version, the Directors Cut and the new Final Cut was released in late 2013 after the Final Cut was given a short run at selected cinema's. This box set also contains the soundtrack on CD.
Sergeant Neil Howie......Edward Woodward
Lord Summerisle............Christopher Lee
Miss Rose.......................Diane Cilento
Alder MacGregor...........Lindsay Kemp
Harbour Master..............Russell Waters
Old Gardener..................Aubrey Morris
May Morrison..................Irene Sunters
School Master................Walter Carr
Woman with Baby..........Barbara Ann Brown
Old Fisherman................Kevin Collins
Rowan Morrison.............Geraldine Cowper
Myrtle Morrison...............Jennifer Martin
Girl on Grave...................Lorraine Peters
Doctor Ewan...................John Sharp
Ash Buchanan.................Richard Wren
Produced By: Peter Snell
Directed By: Robin Hardy
Production Company: British Lion
This synopsis is taken from the Director's Cut version, which is still the longest version of the film available.
The film opens with Sgt Howie landing his plane at a harbour on the main land where he is met by PC McTaggart. Driving home Sgt Howie asks if there were any serious problems while he was away.
PC McTAGGART: "Er, no sergeant. Nothing serious - just the usual...rape, sodomy, sacrilege...you know..."
We see Sgt Howie giving a sermon in church about Christ and the last supper, watched proudly by Mary Bannock, his fiancee. This cuts to a postman riding along on his bike, cheerfully looking through the mail. The postman is next seen at the police station making fun of Sgt Howie with PC McTaggart. Sgt Howie enters and the postman leaves.
PC McTaggart reads out an anonymous letter addressed to Sgt Howie. It states that a child, Rowan Morrison, has disappeared from her home on Summerisle. A photo of a young girl is enclosed with the letter. Sgt Howie tells McTaggart he'll call there on his patrol.
We see Sgt Howie flying away from the mainland, over rugged mountains and blossom fields before circling over Summerisle. He lands the plane at the small harbour and speaks to the harbour master and some fishermen, who at first are reluctant to allow him on land. He reads them the letter and shows them the photo but they don't know the girl. They do know the Mother, May Morrison, and direct him to the local post office. As he turns to leave, the harbour master calls out that the girl is not May's daughter.
Sgt Howie arrives at the post office and is greeted by May Morrison. He shows her the photo of the missing child but she laughs saying it's not her daughter. She shows him to the back of the shop to meet her daughter Myrtle, a younger child. While Mrs Morrison leaves the room to serve a customer, Sgt Howie asks young Myrtle about Rowan. Myrtle tells him she does know Rowan but we learn she is talking about a hare.
Later, Sgt Howie makes his way to the local pub, The Green Man, and enquires about having a meal and a room for the night. Alder MacGregor, the landlord, says it can be arranged and introduces him to his daughter, Willow. The harbour master starts to sing a bawdy song called The Landlord's Daughter and the others join in, much to Sgt Howie's distaste. Sgt Howie brings them all to order and tells them he's there on official business. He tells them he's looking for a missing child and hands the photo round. Nobody seems to know her. Sgt Howie notices a wall containing photos of local harvest festivals and asks about the previous years which appears to be missing. Alder MacGregor tells him it's broke. Sgt Howie goes to a quite room where he eats a meal, the contents of which notices has come out of a can.
WILLOW: "What's the matter? Aren't you hungry?"
SGT HOWIE: " Ey, it's just that most of the food I've had, the farmhouse soup,
the potatoes, broad beans all come out of a can.
Broad beans in their natural state aren't usually turquoise, are they?"
WILLOW: "Some things in their natural state have the most vivid colours."
After his meal, Sgt Howie takes a walk around the village and encounters a group of young people making love out in the open. He then sees a naked woman sitting on a grave, crying as she clutches the headstone. Sgt Howie quickly returns to The Green Man.
Sgt Howie is seated at a desk in his room, writing notes when he hears the voice of Lord Summerisle calling for Willow. He looks out the window and sees Lord Summerisle standing in the garden with a young Ash Buchanan. Willow appears and we learn that Lord Summerisle is offering the boy to Willow for initiation. Willow invites the boy up to her room. Lord Summerisle tells her to be ready for tomorrow's tomorrow for a more serious sacrifice. He leaves quietly.
We see Ash Buchanan standing in The Green Man and the room goes quiet. He heads off to Willow's room and the musicians play a song called Gently Johnny. We see Lord Summerisle watching a pair of snails mating.
LORD SUMMERISLE: "I think I could turn and live with animals. They are so placid and self contained.
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God.
Not one of them kneels to another or to his own kind who lived
thousands of years ago. Not one of them is respectable
or unhappy, all over the earth."
Sgt Howie climbs into bed, clearly troubled by the noises of love making coming from Willow's room.
The next morning Willow gives Sgt Howie directions to the school. As he arrives at the school he is disturbed to see that the school master is teaching the boys a graphic circle of life song as they dance around a Maypole. He is just as disturbed to find a teacher, Miss Rose, encouraging her girls to join in. He stops the lesson when he hears Miss Rose telling them about the penis and the generative force of nature. He asks her to one side and tells her he will report his findings to the authorities. He goes back in to the class and asks the girls about Rowan Morrison. They don't know her. Sgt Howie notices an empty desk and Miss Rose tells him it belongs to no-one. He looks inside and finds a beetle tied to a nail by a thread, walking around in the same direction. The class laugh. Sgt Howie checks the register, despite Miss Rose saying he needs Lord Summerisle's permission, and finds Rowan Morrison's name listed with her address as the post office. He calls them despicable liars and threatens to charge Miss Rose with obstruction. She takes him outside and explains that Rowan Morrison no longer exists and their beliefs are that she has returned to the life forces in another form. He heads to the grave yard and finds the church in ruins and empty crates scattered around the altar. He makes a cross from two pieces of wood and lays it down on the altar. Walking around the grounds he meets the gardener and asks about a grave which has no headstone. The gardener tells him it's the grave of Rowan Morrison. Sgt Howie looks closer at a tree planted on it and sees something hanging from it. The gardener tells him it's the girl's naval string. Appalled by this, Sgt Howie asks to see the minister, but the gardener walks away laughing to himself.
Sgt Howie goes back to the post office, only to find Mrs Morrison putting a frog into Myrtle's mouth.
MRS MORRISON: "Can I do anything for you, sergeant?"
SGT HOWIE: "I doubt it, seeing you're all raving mad."
His next stop is with Doctor Ewan who tells him Rowan Morrison was burnt to death. Sgt Howie goes to the registrar's office and looks at the index of deaths. He finds no mention of Rowan and receives no help from the librarian. He then goes to see Mr Lennox the chemist and asks about a copy of the harvest festival photo which is missing from the wall at The Green Man. Mr Lennox tells him he doesn't keep copies and looks at Sgt Howie blankly when asked about the girl.
Sgt Howie makes his way to Lord Summerisle's castle by horse and cart. On the way he sees some naked girls dancing and leaping over a fire, watched by Miss Rose. At Lord Summerisle's castle, he is greeted by his host and is alarmed to hear that the Lord encourages each new generation to believe in the ways of the old Gods.
SGT HOWIE: "Oh, what is all this? You've got fake biology, fake religion.
Sir, have these children never heard of Jesus?"
LORD SUMMERISLE: "Himself the son of a virgin impregnated, I believe, by a ghost....
Do sit down, sergeant. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent."
Lord Summerisle goes on to explain how his Grandfather came to the island and changed things for the people who were trying to live there and gave them back their old Gods when the trees started to fruit. He explains that his father carried the tradition on out of love and he is doing the same thing. Sgt Howie requests permission to exhume Rowan's grave, which Lord Summerisle has granted.
That night we see Sgt Howie with the gardener pulling up a coffin from Rowan's grave. The gardener opens it and laughs when Sgt Howie sees there's actually a hare inside. Next, we see Sgt Howie arriving at Lord Summerisle's castle and finds Miss Rose and Lord Summerisle singing at the piano. Sgt Howie throws the dead hare at their feet, telling them that's what he found. Lord Summerisle and Miss Rose are of no help and mock him. He tells them that he believes Rowan Morrison has been killed in an act of pagan barbaritory and is going to report his suspicions the authorities and demand they make a full enquiry of the ways of the island. Lord Summerisle remains unperturbed by this.
Sgt Howie sneaks his way into the chemists and goes into the photographic dark room at the back of the shop. He looks through the boxes of photos and negatives and finds a harvest festival photo with Rowan surrounded by empty crates and boxes. He sees the crops have failed and thinks back to the things Lord Summerisle told him about their worship and appeasing of the old Gods.
Back in his room, Sgt Howie is thinking about the case when Willow sings a song of seduction to him from her room, slapping and breathing hard at the wall that divides them. Sgt Howie finds himself drawn to the wall and presses himself against it, almost caressing it as if it were Willow's body. He fights the temptation and steps back to his bed, falling onto it with angst.
The next day Sgt Howie is in the library reading about May Day festivals, and realises that Rowan is not dead and is to be used as a sacrifice. He heads back to his plane to return with help but finds that his plane is not working. He decides to look for the missing child himself.
Back in the village, he sees the locals preparing for their May Day festival, headed by Lord Summerisle. He listens in to hear that there will be a procession followed by a sacrifice to their God of the sun and the Goddess of the orchards. He goes to the post office and tells Mrs Morrison that Rowan is still alive and begs her to tell him where she might be. She tells him to stop interfering and to go back to the main land.
Sgt Howie makes his way about the various houses and shops in search of Rowan. He returns to The Green Man and rests for a while. While lying on his bed, he overhears Alder and Willow MacGregor whispering outside his room, plotting to put something in there with him to make him sleep. He pretends to be asleep and waits until they've left the room. He opens his eyes and sees a hand placed on a candle stick holder with a burning wick protruding from each finger. Sgt Howie knocks it to the floor, picks up the candle stick holder and sneaks up on Alder MacGregor who is putting on a Punch character costume for the days celebrations. He hits him on the back of the head and prepares to put on the costume.
We see the locals in costumes forming a procession along a country path. We see Sgt Howie, now wearing the Punch costume, making his way along with the others. The procession ends at the stones where we saw the naked girls dancing over the fire and six swordsmen form a cross with their swords. It is a game of 'Oranges and Lemons' and Lord Summerisle is the first to go through it, followed by the others, including Sgt Howie, who safely makes it through. The swords slice off the large head of someone wearing a hare costume. It falls to the floor and the body is lays still. The locals gasp in horror and look down at the still body. It suddenly sits up and we see Holly Grimmond, unharmed and laughing. They all make their way to the beach.
At the beach, Lord Summerisle offers ale to the God of the sea and turns to the crowd to announce a more dreadful sacrifice. Sgt Howie, still wearing the Punch costume, sees it is Rowan and runs over to rescue her. They make their way through a cave and Rowan shows him the way to go. They eventually emerge, only to find Lord Summerisle and the others waiting for them. It's then apparent that Rowan is in with them and lead him there as planned by the others. Sgt Howie then hears how he has become the hunter being the hunted and is the right kind of adult for their offering to the Gods. Realising the danger, Sgt Howie tries to convince the crowd that they will be accomplices to murder and killing him won't bring back their crops. They drown out his words by humming and he is lead away up the cliff. He is then horrified to see a large wicker man stood before him with torch bearers stood below it. He is carried up to the man and placed inside it. Sgt Howie calls to them with verses from the bible, but Lord Summerisle gives the signal to start the sacrifice. The torch bearers start the fire and the crowd begin to sing Summer Is A Coming In as they watch the wicker man burn. Sgt Howie prays to God that he is not forgotten and offers him his soul. He gets to his feet and is taken by the flames. The crowd continue to sing their song as the fire burns fiercely.
We see the head of the wicker man fall forward to reveal the sun setting in the distance.