The Wicker Tree (2010) Now Available In Pier 1’s Everywhere
The Wicker Man was a tale of a man blinded by what he thought was his duty as a police officer and a Catholic, the leads in The Wicker Tree have another blinding influence, the veil of Evangelical Christianity and the duty to spread the good news. Thematically, both films are very similar with the main characters stumbling forward into a worse and worse situation without realizing it. The only real difference is that The Wicker Man’s Sergeant Howie was actively pursuing a solution to a mystery while Beth and Steve blindly carry on until it is too late. There is also a tonal difference between the two films. Where The Wicker Man is clad in austere Britishness wrapped in paganism, The Wicker Tree serves mostly as a black comedy, mainly pointed at stupid Americans, with some actual laugh out loud moments throughout. Now, I will admit that the religious Americans are played as patsies, and it could be seen as unreal. However, there wasn't an action they took I could not see blind, devoted followers of the gospels taking due to their unswerving faith. I mean seriously neither one of them picked up on the fact everyone kept calling it, “your bible”. That kind of should have been a tip off that something wasn't right in Scotland. Or perhaps all the talk of an ancient Sun Goddess named Sulis (a.k.a Minerva to the Romans) should have maybe been another clue that the pair were being cultivated for something unsavory, but I suppose Jesus wouldn't let a thing like that happen to his followers? Right? Well, probably not most of them at least.
The Wicker Man over The Wicker Tree, there is definitely some growth as a visual artist on display here which both time and a jump in technology could account for. Cinematographer Jan Pester did an excellent job of pairing with Hardy to give the film an ethereal, dreamlike quality, but it stumbled in the few instances it went to what I called “Raven vision”. It was an unnecessary element in an otherwise tonally stable film. Another disappointing element was the score. The original film featured a classic composition by one time composer Paul Giovanni, but The Wicker Tree’s musical accompaniment by journeyman musician John Scott was all but forgettable. The only musical piece that made a real impact was the hymn “The Power in the Blood” which takes on a whole new meaning by the film’s conclusion.
The Wicker Man, but it is a better movie (though not as unintentionally funny) as the remake. I think many people will be disappointed in the shift in tone between the two films. It’s the same reaction people might have to Texas Chainsaw 1 & 2. While the first was a grittier, straight up serious film, the belated sequel plays with the material a little more and there is a tongue in cheek element at work. It will also likely offend Christians, but I can’t imagine too many hardcore Evangelicals (or do we just call them “Values Voters” these days) are going to run out to the store to pick up a copy of The Wicker Tree. Overall, what would have helped the film is to be divorced from the original, and instead stand on its own as a dark comedy with an eye to the dangers of being blinded by religion. The Wicker Tree has been called the second in a trilogy, and if there is another I will watch it, however, I would like to see Hardy try something different (and I don’t mean different like Bees and Bear suits either.)