In Appreciation of ‘The Wicker Man’—Yes, the Remake

March 18, 2014

Warning: The Wicker Man (2006) spoilers

There is no point in remaking a classic or cult movie; it’s going to be savaged anyway. Rarely has a remake, for all its flashy CGI innovations and snappy screenplay tweaks, been accepted with critical aplomb. It’s almost always an exercise in masochism. 

So nobody was really surprised when the 2006 update of The Wicker Man was ballyhooed as it was. Yet after reading this thoughtful post, you will realize that Wicker Man ’06 is compelling cinema. 

Not because the movie makes a clever play on gender politics, or the effigy looks more stunning this time around. No. 

It’s the simple fact that Nicolas Cage is punching women in this. 

Photo via jybeliever

Socking them. 

Via Heavy

Right in the face. 

There are many instances where life shouldn’t imitate art, and violence against women is easily one of them. But to consummate the Bechdel agenda, the only way is through: Male characters should not have any qualms punching female characters. 

Pacific Rim toyed with this idea last year. Despite starring only two women, one of whom barely spoke, the Guillermo del Toro-helmed tentpole had Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi duking it out. Yet the scene settled for a token win that somehow came across as patronizing Kikuchi. So many movies before this, from Mulan to Mortal Kombat, had made a formulaic outcome of the male-to-female duel.   

In Wicker Man, Nicolas wins his duels fair and square, making the women’s inevitable triumph even sweeter. Lest you forget, Leelee Sobieski gets this in the run-up to the pyre:

Joan of Arc couldn't save her life. Via jybeliever

It’s one of the greatest paradoxes ever, living in a world on the verge of its first female US president but still sheepish about gender equity in fisticuffs. Perhaps there would come a time when humankind loses the need for them altogether. In any event, Mr. Cage's The Wicker Man jabs (pun intended) convention, and in that sense, it is a modern classic. (Buffy, we haven't forgotten the hooks you've received though.)

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