We here at The Wild Hunt love to keep tabs on films that may interest (or concern) a Pagan audience, and today I have information on two films, one a documentary, and one a long-awaited sequel to a beloved cult-classic. We start off with the Robert Stone documentary “Earth Days”, which looks at the formation of the modern environmental movement culminating in the wildly successful 1970 Earth Day celebration.
“It is now all the rage in the Age of Al Gore and Obama, but can you remember when everyone in America was not “Going Green”? Visually stunning, vastly entertaining and awe-inspiring, Earth Days looks back to the dawn and development of the modern environmental movement—from its post-war rustlings in the 1950s and the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s incendiary bestseller Silent Spring, to the first wildly successful 1970 Earth Day celebration and the subsequent firestorm of political action.”
Aside from the natural interest many Pagans have in environmental conservation and activism, the movement that produced the 1970 Earth Day celebration also had a fundamental impact on Wicca and modern Paganism in America.
“The spirit of Earth Day 1970 did not just happen; its roots could include the gradual stirring of environmental consciousness that accelerated in the 1960s, but that stirring itself had deeper roots in an American consciousness of a special relationship with the land, even if that relationship was often abusive. Still, if there was a year when Wicca (in the broad sense) became “nature religion,” as opposed to the “mystery religion” or “metaphorical fertility religion” labels that it had brought from England, that year was 1970.” – Chas Clifton, Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America
“Earth Days” is scheduled to start hitting theatres on August 14th (today!), so be sure to check it out when it hits your neck of the woods (if it doesn’t hit your neck of the woods, don’t despair, it’ll air on PBS in April). Having seen some of Robert Stone’s other documentaries, most notably “Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst” and “Oswald’s Ghost”, it is clear he has a keen perspective of the cultural threads weaving in and out of America in the 1960s. For some early reviews check out this Salon.com critic’s pick, and three perspectives from The Daily Green.
We now turn to a film that takes an entirely different perspective on “caring for the Earth”, the long-awaited Robin Hardy-directed companion to the 1973 cult-classic movie “The Wicker Man”. That film “Cowboys For Christ” “The Wicker Tree” is currently shooting in Scotland, and Shock Till You Drop has an exclusive set report from Susan Granger.
After coaxing British Lion chairman and CEO Peter Snell out of retirement to become his producer, Hardy and Snell joined forces with Peter Watson-Wood and his partner, Alastair Gourlay, to bring The Wicker Tree to the screen for a tight $3 million budget. Last year, Hardy shot some exteriors in Texas and had preliminary talks with Christopher Lee and Joan Collins. Then Lee developed back problems when he tripped over a cable on a movie set in Mexico, leaving him unable to tackle the physically demanding role of Lachlan, and Joan Collins made other plans for this summer. So Hardy chose Scottish actor Graham McTavish (Rambo) who says, “I feel in some ways, a great responsibility to Christopher Lee, to Robin and to the legacy of The Wicker Man. As someone who was inspired by that film, it’s tremendously exciting and challenging to fill the shoes of Christopher Lee – and I only hope I can do it. For an actor, Lachlan is a role you seize with both hands.”
For those greatly disappointed by Sir Christopher Lee getting hurt and not being able to play the leading role of Lachlan fear not! According to the report he’ll still be appearing in a “pivotal” and “instantly recognizable” role in the film. Could this mean a direct connection to “The Wicker Man”? Could Lee be reprising the role of Lord Summerisle in a cameo? The thought of waiting till 2010 to find out seems torturous. I recommend reading the whole set report for some Robin Hardy quotes bagging on the horrid Nicolas Cage “Wicker Man” re-make (apparantly Cage is clueless as to why it failed), and some short interviews with some of the other stars of “The Wicker Tree”. Be sure to also check out the gallery of production stills.
With Cate Blanchett as a sea-goddess (in the English dub) how can you go wrong?