« Say it a thousand times and it's true | Main | Why won't this die? »

September 11, 2006

Summer is a-goin' out

Has anyone seen the Wicker Man remake? When I first heard about it I assumed I'd see it no matter how awful it sounded, but… yikes. A few weeks ago Kathy Shaidle wagered that the evil pagan villagers in the original would probably become evil Christian villagers in the remake. I could easily have seen it happening, but it turns out the premise is even stupider: the American Summerisle is inhabited only by an all-female cult of beekeepers. Seriously. Says A.O. Scott in the New York Times:

I’m trying to imagine how this movie was pitched. There’s this island, see, and it’s ruled by women. Goddesses! Most of them are blond, and a lot of them are twins, and they have all this honey, and these wild costumes. Porno? What are you talking about? It’s a horror movie. Don’t you get it?

The BBC’s Mark Kermode (who made a documentary about the original) tore a strip off it on his Friday podcast, and his impersonation of Nic Cage in the final scene (stupid mook voice: “Oh no! Oh no!”) almost tipped me towards "no way" all on its own. Cage has always annoyed me, and he certainly isn’t high on my list of actors who can play “brave, unyielding, self-confident to a fault”. I wouldn’t mind seeing him burn to death, I suppose, but at PG-13 I see few prospects for that.

The tragedy, Kermode argues, is that this is a rare classic that might be worthy of a remake. Upon reflection, I agree. The original film is flawed, and often unintentionally funny. It was made for next to no money. And it’s not as if there wasn’t scope to make an American version under the original rules of engagement — this is a fiercely Christian nation whose last-but-one President once famously wondered if atheists should be considered citizens.

So how about this: Hippy nihilists kidnap the Vice-President’s daughter and take her to Nevada… for the best Burning Man ever! No? I have others…

As an aside, I don't think Tasha Robinson's review of the remake was up to The Onion's usual standard:

Much of the fun of the original 1973 film version of Anthony Shaffer’s novel The Wicker Man came from its thoroughly unlikable protagonist: Playing a pushy, prudish Christian zealot, Edward Woodward stormed through the story like a cut-rate Cotton Mather, condemning everyone around him and earning himself a fate that was simultaneously fitting and ironic.

Anyone who paid attention to the original knows that last part isn't right. Nothing Sergeant Howie did on Summerisle affected his fate. Rather, he was lured there (though I never quite understood how the islanders knew to do it) because he met the pagans' needs so perfectly.

Posted by Chris Selley at September 11, 2006 10:45 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.tartcider.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/501

Comments

I enjoy the vindication of knowing that a celebrity I irrationally dislike is in a terrible movie.

Posted by: Eric at September 12, 2006 01:58 AM

What a shame, sacrificing Cage for stupid cause had such potential.

Posted by: Eric at September 12, 2006 09:49 AM

What a shame, sacrificing Cage for stupid cause had such potential.

Posted by: Eric at September 12, 2006 09:50 AM

What a shame, sacrificing Cage for stupid cause had such potential.

Posted by: Eric at September 12, 2006 09:50 AM

What a shame, sacrificing Cage for stupid cause had such potential.

Posted by: Eric at September 12, 2006 09:52 AM

What a shame, sacrificing Cage for stupid cause had such potential!

Posted by: Jason B. Green at September 12, 2006 10:50 PM

But seriously, folks, you're right - he did not "earn" his fate, but was indeed lured there.

I was actually excited, very, about a remake of The Wicker Man - it's an obvious choice to re-make today, for the exact reasons you list, it's a classic that can be improved on and can arrive on the scene at a time in history that is possibly much more fitting than when it first appeared. It IS a shame - it's always hard to see potential drip away.

Posted by: Jason B. Green at September 12, 2006 10:53 PM

Nekkid wimmen? Honey? Damn! I'm going over to Amazon.ca to pre-order my DVD now.

Posted by: Sean at September 14, 2006 12:16 PM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)