Wicker Man comments do Selkirk no favours
How depressing. I refer to your article, 'Wicker Man Remake Under Fire' on November 1, in which you reported that a planned sequel to the film, The Wicker Man, had been criticised by civic leaders in Selkirk.
Reacting to rumours that the new film’s plot involves creepy events at a Borders festival, local community council chairman Dr Lindsay Neil said: “There would definitely be objections if there was any inference that our common riding was in any way something sinister or supernatural.”
Comments like these imply, patronisingly, that people cannot distinguish between reality and what they see on a cinema screen.
I know many people who have seen and enjoyed the original Wicker Man and none of them have taken that film’s premise – that there is a pagan community flourishing on one of Scotland’s Western Isles – as being fact. Rather, they have recognised the film for what it is – a gripping but fanciful yarn in which a sanctimonious authority figure gets his comeuppance. Incidentally, I know several admirers of the film who come from the Western Isles.
Similarly, I have not heard of the original Wicker Man having any detrimental effect on the Western Isles’ tourist trade – people have not been put off visiting the area by fears that some local pagans might throw them on a bonfire.
I very much doubt if a Borders-set sequel to The Wicker Man would damage attendance at any of the festivals or common ridings in our region. Rather, the free publicity offered by such a film would probably bring more people to them.
As Selkirk’s civic leaders give the impression that they haven’t been to the pictures much in the last 40 years, I will provide a little information about the original Wicker Man.
As the original article pointed out, it has been rated as the 6th best film ever made in Britain, and it regularly tops polls as the best all-time British horror film. In Scottish terms, it is such an iconic movie that it is surely up there with Braveheart and Trainspotting – and unlike one of those two films none of it was filmed in Ireland.
The film has been referenced in the work of artists as diverse as Irvine Welsh and the League Of Gentlemen, and it was an obvious influence on The Last Great Wilderness, the first film made by Scottish director David Mackenzie.
Coincidentally, Mackenzie’s latest film was Hallam Foe, part of which was filmed near Peebles.
This prompted some talk about the Borders becoming a desirable location for filmmakers. However, I can’t see many filmmakers hurrying here if they are going to be greeted by disapproving girning like that displayed by Selkirk community council.
Such is The Wicker Man’s reputation that it is a pity people are trying to dissociate the Borders from its sequel. It is also disappointing – though hardly surprising – that the sequel is not being filmed here but in Dumfries and Galloway, next door.
The climax of the original was filmed on the Solway Coast, and since then local people have exploited their area’s connection with the film by staging a yearly Wicker Man music festival. I am sure our neighbours in southwest Scotland will welcome the potential cash cow of a Wicker Man sequel with open arms.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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