How well do you remember 1973's The Wicker Man?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: The Movie DB

About This Quiz

This British movie about the battle of wits between a virtuous Christian policeman and free-loving, island-dwelling neopagans has become a cult classic! Do you dare to revisit the island with our quiz?

What is Sgt. Howie's first name?

Neil Howie was portrayed by Edward Woodward. He did a lot of stage work in England and Australia, as well as TV and film work.

What is the name of the island Howie visits?

"Summerisle" evokes the island's fertility and its inhabitants' pagan religion. It is also the name of the island's de facto leader.

Who played Lord Summerisle?

Christopher Lee was deeply involved in the making of the film. He considered it his best film, and paid his own way on a tour promoting it.

What is the first name of the missing girl?

Most of the inhabitants of Summerisle have names that evoke nature. Rowan is a tree with light-red berries. It's also both a male and female name (see Rowan Atkinson).

How does Howie learn of Rowan Morrison's disappearance?

Sgt. Howie doesn't really seem beholden to any sort of "Chief Inspector" figure. He goes to the island by himself and seems to operate entirely on his own. (At least, in the theatrical cut. We do see more of Howie's mainland life in the director's cut.)

What painted symbol marks the dinghy that Howie rides to shore in?

The symbol is called the "evil eye" in some writings about the film, although it doesn't look particularly scary. The boat belonged to a local near where "The WIcker Man" was filmed - it was borrowed for these scenes.

What is May Morrison's job on the island?

It seems like Sgt. Howie should have shown her the envelope the anonymous letter came in, and asked if she remembered who mailed it. He doesn't, though -- he merely asks the questions a police officer would ask a mother in this situation.

Rowan's mother makes what surprising claim about the girl?

The men Howie first meets at the harbor say the same thing. Actually, they say it a little too well, passing around the photo with lots of head-shaking and denials that frankly seem rehearsed.

What is Myrtle Morrison painting when Howie talks to her?

While "hare" and "rabbit" seem interchangeable, Mrs. Morrison insists on using the first term. It's also the word that Myrtle Morrison uses to describe her pet.

What is the name of the inn Sgt. Howie stays at?

"The Green Man" is one of many touches that reflect the island's pagan religion. It suggests a kind of fertility god, and also the wicker statue that Howie will eventually be burned in.

What is the name of Myrtle Morrison's hare?

Sgt. Howie naturally gets excited when Myrtle mentions "Rowan." But when he asks if she'll be home for tea, Myrtle says, "Hares don't have tea!"

What is the name of the innkeeper's daughter?

The name Willow would go on to be very popular after "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," featuring Willow Rosenberg. In 1973, however, it was simply a name which suited a pagan girl on Summerisle.

Who played Willow?

Julie Andrews would have been a good choice also, since Willow sings in the movie. Ekland had to be dubbed by singer Rachel Verney.

Which harvest-festival photograph is missing from the wall?

Howie looks with interest at the photos, all of which show a girl or young woman standing among the harvested crops. Of course, we're going to see the missing photograph soon enough.

As Howie says his evening prayers, what is shown in flashbacks?

In the longer version of the movie, the audience sees his life on the mainland, including him at church. In the theatrical cut, the church is only seen in flashback.

What is unusual about the way Willow tries to seduce Sgt. Howie?

Willow sings and dances up against her bedroom wall, knocking on it at times. Howie presses himself against the wall, sweats, kneels to pray and ultimately resists going to her room.

Howie's investigation into Rowan's death finally gains traction when he finds what?

Sgt. Howie asks the schoolgirls if they know Rowan, and they all say no. When he finds the name in the register, he calls them "despicable little liars." The man isn't exactly a charm-school graduate.

What does Howie find in Rowan Morrison's desk?

The beetle is tethered to the nail, and a giggling girl explains that it will keep going in a circle until he's wound up tightly against the nail. Golly, what could that be a metaphor for?

Why does Miss Rose say the islanders weren't lying about not knowing Rowan?

Miss Rose continues with an explanation of how the villagers see death as reincarnation into nature and the elements. Which is nice, but doesn't really justify the runaround they gave Howie.

In the town's cemetery, Howie comes across a woman holding a baby in her arms and what in one hand?

The filmmakers later explained that this was part of a fertility ritual. A great many things come down to fertility -- of land and of humans -- on Summerisle.

What hangs in the tree on Rowan Morrison's grave?

The groundskeeper calls it Rowan's "navel string." It likely has some kind of superstitious purpose.

How does Lord Summerisle defend the ritual of women jumping through a fire naked?

He says this as though it's entirely obvious. There's really no shaking Lord Summerisle's aplomb.

When Lord Summerisle says, "I think I could turn and live with animals," who is he quoting?

It's a little surprising that a pagan on an isolated island quotes Whitman, but the town does have a library. Or perhaps audiences were meant to think that Summerisle's words were original to him.

How did the people of Summerisle become pagans?

This is a surprisingly unromantic explanation. The first Lord Summerisle was a Victorian botanist who introduced new crops to the island, and thought, correctly, that the people would work harder if they felt a connection to nature and the land.

When Sgt. Howie exhumes Rowan's grave, what does he find?

The hare is obviously newly dead, as its fur is still soft and brown and it hasn't begun to decompose. Howie now has the distinct idea the islanders are toying with him.

What does Howie do with the hare?

Lord Summerisle is playing the piano in the evening, while Miss Rose sits on the parlor rug and sings along. Howie, throwing the hare's body in from the doorway, brings that to an abrupt halt.

What is the Hand of Glory?

It's implied that the candle has drugs in the wax, as Willow whispers, "This will make you sleep, my pretty sergeant." Then again, given that the whole thing's a set-up, maybe it's just a candle.

Which costume does Howie steal from the innkeeper?

Punch is the fool, and also "king for the day," according to the lore Howie has read. As he joins the procession, Lord Summerisle pretends not to know it's him and urges him to "cut capers, man!"

The ideal sacrifice must be willing, king-like, a fool, and what other thing?

The "virgin" requirement casts Willow's attempt to seduce him in an odd light. If she'd succeeded, she would have ruined a plan months in the making. Could she have felt sorry for him?

In what way is Sgt. Howie "king-like"?

In addition to his "king for a day" costume, Howie represents a king because he came to Summerisle "with the power of a king." (And, sadly, it's pretty clear that the islanders consider him a fool as well.)

As he bargains for his life, Howie says that next year, if the crops fail again, the sacrifice will be _________.

Howie mostly addresses Lord Summerisle at the end. He says last year's crop failure was simply due to the climate, and that if the next crop fails as well, the only acceptable sacrifice will be Summerisle.

What does Howie sing inside the Wicker Man?

Howie sings as he stands at the barred window of the Wicker Man. Outside, the villagers joyfully sing an old folk song, "Sumer is icumen in." The face-off between religions is chilling because the villagers are so blissfully unconcerned about a man being burned to death.

Who stepped into Sgt. Howie's sensible cop shoes for a 2006 remake?

Nicolas Cage has a reputation for accepting all sorts of roles (see also "Left Behind"), but this choice was unusually ill-fated. The movie was terribly received by critics and holds a 15 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating at the time this quiz was written.

Also in the remake, who took over the role of Lord Summerisle?

The remake made substantial changes to the original. They include a matriarchal society led by "Sister Summerisle," an American setting, and a main character who not only isn't a virgin, but learns he is the father of the missing Rowan.

For which TV show was Edward Woodward best known?

"The Equalizer" aired in the late 1980s. Woodward played a former British secret agent who takes the law into his own hands when crime victims, or those in peril, can't get help from the system.

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