The Wicker Man (1973) OST
Music and Songs by Paul Giovanni
Silva Screen Records 2010

This is probably one of the last soundtrack’s anyone would expect to see under my name for a review.Besides being a classic 70’s horror film, it is also one of a few appearing under what is known as “Folk-Horror”.

It purports to be, at least on the surface, traditional.The Wicker Man is based on a David Pinner novel, but the pagan elements as the film, and probably the novel, would imply have no real basis in any extant historical accounts, other than the possible concept for the “Wicker Man” itself.But it makes for some pretty suspenseful and chilling filmmaking at a time that the British Film Industry was pretty desperate.

The music can be assessed from a similar angle.There are several elements of traditional songs, e.g. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, included in the soundtrack itself, but only one song dates to the mid-13th Century, “Sumer Is Icumen In,” but it is hardly pagan as it sings of the risen Jesus the Christ and sings it in Latin at that.A few of these songs written by Paul Giovanni have been covered by other artists in subsequent years and one even used in a recent horror film, Hostel.

The songs and music were written, recorded, and performed in such a way, however, that it would be difficult for most but a musicologist to recognize what most experts in the historical art trade would call a “forgery”.But the songs, “historical precedence” are damned convincing.Take for instance, “The Landlord’s Daughter”.It could very well be a Medieval or later bawdy public house classic, detailing the un-forbidden charms and delights of the landlord’s daughter that you wouldn’t bring home, even to your mother.Giovanni either did some cursory research or he is that intuitive.

Even “Maypole” sounds too perfectly Medieval or beyond, describing what could be called a Beltain tradition of welcoming Spring into the community with fertility rights beginning with trees, birds, feathers, beds, girls, men, and seeds.You get the idea. Far be it from me to claim to be an expert in the traditions of the Celtic Earth Religions, but I am extremely curious about most faiths and their origins, I have a few friends who practice, and I am a good listener when I see the benefit.

My appreciation, or lack thereof, of horror might only extend to the modern variety with its over-the-top graphic violence that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. And I should probably explain this in a little more detail.I have an extremely vivid, visceral, and graphic imagination.Anything film can do, I can do worse or better depending on the situation, and I dream vividly.Whatever source you want to attribute this to, be it ADHD or just an ability to dive into books, music, and films and become part of the landscape, escaping reality at will,it is something I have nurtured and cultivated from a very young age, and I have no intention of stopping just so I can go to the theater to see inferior graphic violence, when Hitchcock and his contemporaries did it with so much more panache and left just enough to our imaginations to give us a good healthy scare.

27 January 2011

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