Shrouded in the same brand of mystery and contradiction that forms its tangled plot, Ritual, the 1967 debut by RADA-trained playwright David Pinner is commonly recognised by cult cinema fanatics as the original seed that grew into the towering movie enigma The Wicker Man.
Set against an enclosed rural Cornish landscape, Ritual follows the trail of English police officer, David Hanlin, who is requested to investigate the murder of a local child.
During his short stay, he is slowly subjected to a spectacle of psychological trickery, sexual seduction and ancient religious practices.
As he delves deeper into the village’s mysterious way of life he finds himself becoming embroiled and seduced into their bizarre rituals.
He becomes more and more confused and starts to feel almost hypnotised by the community.
But when another child is murdered he knows he needs to break the spell and find the killer.
Can he get to the bottom of the mystery?
Or will he become the next victim in this dark Ritual?
Pinner's poetic and hallucinatory sequences were transformed into Robin Hardy's 1973 film, The Wicker Man, which has enthralled and inspired generations of British movie patrons and folk-pop enthusiasts throughout the world.
Praise for David Pinner
‘Ritual’s opulent dialogue, with the sickly richness of its countryside, and Pinner’s decaying village, can stand alone from the book’s illustrious successor. But, be warned, like The Wicker Man, it is quite likely to test your dreams of leaving the city for a shady nook by a babbling brook.’ The Guardian
Release Date: December 5, 1973
Release Time: 87 minutes
Edward Woodward as Sgt. Neil Howie
Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle
Britt Ekland as Willow MacGregor
Annie Ross as Willow MacGregor (voice)
Rachel Verney as Willow MacGregor (singing voice)
Diane Cilento as Miss Rose
Ingrid Pitt as Librarian
Lindsay Kemp as Alder MacGregor (the landlord)
Russell Waters as Harbour Master
Aubrey Morris as Old Gardener/Gravedigger
Irene Sunter as May Morrison
Jennifer Martin as Myrtle Morrison
Donald Eccles as T.H. Lennox
Walter Carr as School Master
Roy Boyd as Broome
Peter Brewis as Musician
Geraldine Cowper as Rowan Morrison
John Young as Fishmonger
Myra Forsyth as Mrs Grimmond
Alison Hughes as Sgt Howie's fiancé
John Sharp as Doctor Ewan (longer version)
John Hallam as Police Constable McTaggart (longer version)
Tony Roper as Postman (longer version)
David Pinner was born in 1940. After school and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he appeared with repertory companies at Sheffield, Perth, Coventry (Belgrade Theatre) and Windsor. By 1969 he had written thirteen plays, including Fanghorn, Dickon, Lightfall and Eiderdown. Ritual was his first novel.