Neil Howie is a devoutly Christian policeman and lay minister, still an unmarried virgin though middle-aged and is mocked for such by his assistant, McTaggart. He anonymously receives a photograph of a girl, Rowan Morrison, in the post with a note stating that she has mysteriously vanished.

Howie heads out to Summerisle, an island community within his jurisdiction, in his search for the girl. No one there has heard of Rowan, not even May Morrison, whom Howie suspects to be Rowan's mother. Mrs Morrison's young daughter shows Howie a picture she has drawn of the supposed missing girl, but the drawing is that of a hare. Howie takes a room at a pub run by Alder MacGregor and his daughter, Willow. He is shocked by the ribald songs sung by customers of the pub and even more so when he observes couples making love in a cemetery as he takes an evening walk. On his return, Howie is further shaken when he sees Lord Summerisle, the lord of the island, bringing Willow a teenage boy for sexual initiation.

The next morning Howie heads to the local school in search of Rowan. There he finds the children being taught about phallic symbols and participating in a phallic maypole dance. Howie finds Rowan's name on the school register and Miss Rose, the teacher, explains that the girl has died but returned in another form. Inquiries with the island's gravedigger, librarian and doctor are all fruitless. His frustration mounting, Howie goes to Lord Summerisle's castle for permission to exhume Rowan's grave, suspecting murder. Though Summerisle is a perfect host, Howie is angered by his pagan attitudes. Howie removes the girl's coffin from the grave and is shocked to find the corpse of a hare. He breaks into the local chemist and examines some harvest festival photographs, discovering that the last batch of crops on the island have failed to grow. He surmises that these pagan people have kidnapped Rowan and are going to sacrifice her in May Day festivities. As he lies in bed wondering about what to do, he is disturbed to find out that Willow is parading naked around her bedroom singing a love song to him. Working himself into a frenzy, Howie eventually collapses exhausted.

The following morning Howie returns to his plane intending to fetch help from the mainland. His plane has been tampered with and will not start, so he begins a search of the island for the missing girl. Returning to the pub for a rest on his bed, he wakes to discover Alder MacGregor in the act of administering a smoking sleeping drug to him. Howie knocks out MacGregor, steals his jester's outfit and joins the costumed procession incognito. The parade around the island is colourful, full of costumes representing nature. Howie spots Rowan being led for an apparent sacrifice and attempts to rescue her. He is quickly surrounded and it is only then that he discovers the truth: Rowan's disappearance was simply a ruse to lure the good Christian man to Summerisle for a ritual sacrifice. Feverishly offering up prayers to Jesus, Howie is placed inside a giant wicker man that is set afire against the setting sun.


(Mouseover or touch character name for image)

Sergeant HowieEdward Woodward
Lord SummerisleChristopher Lee
Miss RoseDiane Cilento
WillowBritt Ekland
LibrarianIngrid Pitt
Alder MacGreagor [sic]Lindsay Kemp
Harbour MasterRussell Waters
Old Gardener / GravediggerAubrey Morris
May MorrisonIrene Sunters
School MasterWalter Carr
OakIan Campbell
HairdresserLeslie Blackater
BroomeRoy Boyd
MusicianPeter Brewis
Woman with BabyBarbara Ann Brown
Villager on SummerisleJuliette Cadzow
CommunicantRoss Campbell
GilliePenny Cluer
MusicianMichael Cole
Old FishermanKevin Collins
Rowan MorrisonGeraldine Cowper
MusicianIan Cutler
T. H. LennoxDonald Eccles
Mrs. GrimmondMyra Forsyth
P.C. McTaggartJohn Hallam
Fiancée to HowieAlison Hughes
ButcherCharles Kearney
HollyFiona Kennedy
BakerJohn MacGregor
BriarJimmy MacKenzie
DaisyLesley / Leslie Mackie
Myrtle MorrisonJennifer Martin
MusicianBernard Murray
Villager on SummerisleHelen Norman
Girl on GraveLorraine Peters
PostmanTony Roper
Doctor EwanJohn Sharp
Villager on SummerisleElizabeth Sinclair
MusicianAndrew Tompkins
CommunicantJan Wilson
Ash BuchananRichard Wren
FishmongerJohn Young
MusicianGary Carpenter (uncredited)
Singer in pubPaul Giovanni (uncredited)
MinisterRobin Hardy (uncredited)
Onlooker on clifftopAnthony Shaffer (uncredited)


Sound EditorVernon Messenger
Assistant EditorDenis Whitehouse
Casting DirectorMaggie Cartier
PublicityFrank Law
StillsJohn Brown
Wardrobe SupervisorMasada Wilmot
Make-upBilly Partleton
HairdresserJan Dorman
Assistant DirectorJake Wright
Location ManagerJilda Smith
Unit ManagerMike Gowans
ContinuitySue Merry
Production SecretaryBeryl Harvey
Camera OperatorJimmy Devis
FocusMike Drew
SoundRobin Gregory
Bob Jones
Production ManagerTed Morley
ChoreographerStewart Hopps
Costume DesignerSue Yelland
2nd Unit PhotographyPeter Allwork
Associate Musical DirectorGary Carpenter
Music Performed by"Magnet" / "Lodestone"*
"Corn Rigs" and "Gently Johnny" Sung byPaul Giovanni
Art DirectorSeamus Flannery
Music Composed byPaul Giovanni
Director of PhotographyHarry Waxman B.S.C.
Film EditorEric Boyd-Perkins G.B.F.E.
ScreenplayAnthony Shaffer
ProducerPeter Snell
DirectorRobin Hardy

* The Short Version credits "Magnet"; the Long Version credits "Lodestone". The title for the musicians was changed when it was realised the name "Lodestone" was already in use by others.

Original text portions © Copyright Steve Phillips 1995-2017. All rights reserved.

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