The Wicker Man by Iron Maiden

You watch the world
Exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun
A newborn in the light Read full Lyrics
Orchardton Tower, Dumfries and Galloway, ScotlandOrchardton Tower, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Before we start, let us make one thing perfectly clear: There are nasty rumors going around about a remake of the film The Wicker Man in the 2000s. Ludicrously enough, it is claimed that schlock-actor Nicholas Cage had a part in it. Well, let us assure you that no such abomination ever happened. Just think about the 1973 British film and thank your lucky stars that no one ever defiled that memory.

Now, then.

The Wicker Man is a song written and performed by Iron Maiden (literally the whole core band pitches in) and included on their 2000 album Brave New World. And it is inspired by the film of the same name, which has a thriving cult following today. This is actually a common thing for Iron Maiden; they often write intellectual songs drawing themes from literature, film, history, science-fiction, and even mythology.

And the place, as plainly evident from watching the film, is the bonnie land of Scotland. Specifically, most of it is filmed in the small Scottish towns of Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright, and a few scenes in the village of Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway, as well as Plockton in Ross-shire. In addition, a few scenes are done at Culzean Castle near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland; and the opening shots of Police Sergeant Neil Howie flying his Thurston Teal amphibious plane are done while zooming over the Isle of Skye.

This is no light usage of the scenery and sets; sweeping views of the countryside and all that running around in the narrow streets and historic buildings make up a lot of the tone and atmosphere of the film. And what an atmosphere it is!
Sweetheart Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway, ScotlandSweetheart Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
For here is a very unique beast of a film: a religious horror story. Without spoiling it for a minute, we'll just say that Sergeant Neil Howie has gone to the island to solve a mystery of a missing girl, and finds the inhabitants to be really, really unhelpful. What follows has to be seen to be believed - it just keeps getting freakier and freakier, building up to an ending you'll never forget, and leaving you with some troubling questions about religions. The genre-film magazine Cinefantastique devoted an entire issue to it, calling The Wicker Man "the Citizen Kane of horror movies."

It's also kind of a miracle that this film ever got made. Its studio, British Lion Films, was in deep financial straits when they were making this, and in fact got bought out right when this film was to be released. The resulting executive meddling has produced the usual snake's nest of different cuts and versions, but as long as you aim for the longest cut you can find, you'll be able to appreciate it. The politics of the studio also plays a part in the look of the film; it is set in spring, but the schedule was rushed so they had to film it in October, gluing artificial leaves and blossoms on the trees and dashing outside to film an outdoor scene whenever the sun broke through the overcast sky. Furthermore, if you have a hard time understanding some of the dialog, that's because the actors had to keep ice cubes in their mouths to keep their breath from steaming!

Iron Maiden does a decent job capturing the spirit of the story. In some versions, the chorus lyrics interchange the lines "your time will come," "thy will be done," "don't turn, don't run," "I'll be the one," and "burn on the sun." This makes a lot more sense if you've seen the film! Especially that last one, heh heh heh.

Now, take those masks off, or you're all going to end up raving mad! The Wicker Man Songfacts
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