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Academics Explore Iconic Horror Film

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Experts in filmmaking, history and the supernatural from the University of Worcester will get together to debate an iconic British horror film alongside a free public screening at The Hive.

The 1973 classic, The Wicker Man, centres on a visit by a policeman to the island of Summerisle, where he finds its inhabitants have abandoned Christianity for a form of paganism.

It will be screened at 6pm on Tuesday, January 24 alongside the debate with Professor of Early Modern History, Darren Oldridge, Film Studies Senior Lecturer, Dr Mikel Koven, and Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and Course Leader, Dr Paul Elliott.

Titled The Wicker Man: Magic and Nightmares, the event features the original director’s cut rather than the shorter theatrical release and contributions from the audience will be invited.

Dr Koven will look at the film in the context of the folk horror genre while Dr Elliott will consider how the film fits in with British cinema of the 1970s. Professor Oldridge will explore at the representation of magic and pagan practices.

“The Wicker Man is one of the most shocking and influential of British horror movies,” said Professor Oldridge.

“As a historian of the supernatural I am intrigued by the film's depiction of magic, and its influence on popular conceptions of witchcraft.

“Its portrayal of a pagan community on a Scottish island, and the supposedly ancient rites that this community performs, continues to fascinate people interested in magic and religion.

“It is also extraordinary to see how the movie portrays a magic-believing community that is likeable and sane, while also imagining the most horrific acts.

“The Wicker Man was released at a time when many people accepted the existence of a pagan fertility cult in western Europe in the sixteenth century. The film exploited, and perhaps perpetuated, this idea.”

The event is free, but places are limited. You should book in advance by emailing ihca@worc.ac.uk.