Midsommar Explained - Midsommar Analysis - Ari Aster Movies - StudioBinder

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Midsommar Explained: Symbolism, Themes, and Easter Eggs

M idsommar is Ari Aster’s haunting folk horror film that stunned audiences in 2019. The movie follows a group of college students who travel to a pagan festival in Sweden and get caught up in a terrifying ordeal. If you’ve seen the film, then you know that description doesn’t really do the movie justice, and there’s so much that makes this film such a complex, intriguing work of art. Fortunately, we’ve analyzed every frame to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of what this movie’s really about. Here’s Midsommar explained for all you filmmakers wanting to make your own folk horror masterpiece.

Naturally, spoilers ahead for Midsommar.

Midsommar Explained — Hidden in the Background

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What is midsommar about.

Midsommar is one of the best horror films of all time and for good reason. It successfully creates a haunting atmosphere that remains pertinent throughout the entire film. Horror movies have short and sweet runtimes but even the Midsommar Director’s Cut with nearly a three-hour runtime keeps you locked in dreadful suspense.

First and foremost, a quick recap of the Midsommar plot explained as things get a little wonky as the film progresses. 

Our Midsommar synopsis opens with a scene of Dani trying to call her emotionally-distant boyfriend Christian. She’s hysterical because her suicidal sister isn’t returning any of her messages. We soon learn that Dani’s sister was successful in committing suicide via car exhaust, and the fumes also killed Dani’s parents in the same house.

Opening Titles  •  Midsommar 

Fast forward a bit and Dani and Christian are still together. Christian is hesitant about bringing Dani along on a trip to Sweden with him and his friends, but he ultimately invites her. The group arrives at the midsommar festival where everything is a bit… off.

The group experiences the strange rituals of the people, which includes two elderly citizens jumping off a cliff to their deaths (clip not provided for obvious reasons). 

As they dive deeper into the true intentions behind the festivals, outsiders in the group begin to disappear. Later, Dani wins a maypole dancing competition, becoming the May Queen. We can see exactly how Ari Aster intended this scene to play out by examining the   script that we imported into StudioBinder's screenwriting software . 

In another post, we have a complete breakdown of the entire Midsommar script , including a PDF download.

how to write a camera shot in a screenplay - studiobinder screenwriting software

Midsommar Plot  •   Check Out Our Midsommar Screenplay

Shortly after this, she witnesses Christian having sex with one of the Swedish girls (after he becomes under the influence of drugs). We soon learn the Swedish people have captured the outsiders to use as part of a ritual burning. They’ve all been killed and are placed within a ceremonial hut. As May Queen, it’s up to Dani to decide whether Christian or one of the cult followers will become the final participant. She chooses Christian. 

Midsommar Ending  •  Finale

Dani is the primary protagonist, and we can divide the film into three sections to track her progress. The first section involves Dani becoming traumatized over the death of her sister. While Christian is sympathetic, it’s clear he’s only staying with her because she’s suffered such an immense loss. 

The second section takes place throughout the midsommar ceremony. Over the course of these days, we see Dani slowly realize how manipulative and emotionally abusive Christian has been. For example, there’s a moment everyone believes Simon left the village without telling his girlfriend Connie behind. Dani bitterly states how she thinks Christian would do the same. 

The ending of Midsommar kicks off after Dani sees Christian having sex with one of the villagers. She breaks down in hysterics, but the other women join her in her pain. Dani screams and hyperventilates, and everyone else follows suit. By looking at the film through these sections, we gain a better understanding of the film’s central themes . 


What is our midsommar analysis.

While Midsommar is a folk horror movie in the same vein as The Wicker Man , it’s essentially a breakup movie. Don’t just take it from us. Hear what Midsommar director Ari Aster has to say as he mentions Eyes Wide Shut and Modern Romance as influences.

Ending of Midsommar Explained  •  Birth.Movies.Death

Examine Dani and Christian’s relationship in the film’s overture. She’s reaching out to him for help, thinking the worst has happened to her sister, and he really just blows her off. It’s clear this relationship just isn’t panning out, or at the least, it’s just not something Christian is interested in helping Dani get through her family’s passing. Dani likely stays because she doesn’t want to lose someone else at this time, but there’s a lack of shared empathy between the two. 

Every relationship is different, but each one depends on a foundation of shared empathy. When your partner is upset, you should be upset, too. When your partner is happy, you share in their joy. If that foundation isn’t there, it leads to people feeling alone and isolated even when they’re surrounded by other people. 

This is expressed visually in the film when Dani goes to talk to Christian’s friends. They’re all on the couch, and Dani is seen through the mirror above, physically separated from them. 

All this changes when Dani goes to the village. When she catches Christian cheating on her, she runs out of the hut screaming and crying, but something different happens. The female villagers surround her and share in her grief. Just like earlier in the film when the village shared in the old person’s pain (you know what we’re talking about), the villagers empathize with Dani in a way no one else has. 

Dani Cries  •  Midsommar Movie Explained

The ending of Midsommar explained is this: Dani literally buries her past life. Christian and all his friends go up in flames, and she acts out their pain just like the villagers. While the film is filled with ritualistic sacrifices and bears in cages, it sticks with you because of these central, universal themes anyone can learn from. 


What’s going on in the background.

After watching Midsommar the first time around, you may be hesitant to watch it twice (it gets pretty gruesome after all). But if you pay attention, you may notice background details that really let you into Dani’s state of mind and the grief she’s still experiencing. 

One of the most memorable moments that went viral was the scene where after Dani becomes the May Queen. If you look at the trees behind her, you can see the image of her sister’s face with the exhaust tube in her mouth from when she killed herself. 

Midsommar Explained - Sister Death Detail in the Trees

Background Detail in the Trees  •  Midsommar Review

However, that’s not the only time Dani’s sister can be seen after the overture. Upon arriving at the village and ingesting hallucinogenic tea, Dani looks at herself in the mirror and is startled to see her sister. 

Midsommar Explained - Dani Sees Her Sister

Dani Sees Her Sister  •  Midsommar Analysis

In the end, after she becomes May Queen, Dani hallucinates her sister amongst the crowd.

Midsommar Explained - Dani’s Sister Among the Villagers

Dani’s Sister Among the Villagers  •  Midsommar Explained

These scenes give the movie a more surreal atmosphere. They also let us deeper into Dani’s mind. It just goes to show how broken she became over her family’s death. She clearly has mental health issues she needs to address, but all the while, none of the people she’s with seem to care. Christian continues to just try to get her to act normal so that they can have a fun time in Sweden. 

It’s not just creepy Easter eggs going on in the background either. Aster also uses the background to foreshadow what’s to come . The very first image we see is a tapestry that summarizes the entire story we're about to watch.

Midsommar Explained - The Plot Explained - Midsommar Tapestry

Midsommar Plot Explained  •  Midsommar Tapestry

The left-hand side of the quilt shows the overture. A woman (Dani) is connected to three other people (her sister, father, and mother). The grim spectre of death overlooks the image. 

Look closely and you can see other events from the film within the quilt. There’s the trek to the Swedish village and the final ceremony around the Maypole. Aster expertly manages to tell the audience precisely what was going to happen in a subtle manner while adding a new sense of dread and foreboding to the sequences about to take place. 

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What other symbolism is in the film.

There is symbolism all over Midsommar . Flowers come up prominently in the film, most notably when Dani earns the title of May Queen and adorns a large floral dress. However, flowers come up many other times in the film, often at points to signal great emotional gravity. 

Flowers are seen in the wallpaper in Dani’s parents’ house when they pass away, triggering Dani’s emotional journey throughout the film. After the group travels to Sweden, Dani picks flowers for Christian, who couldn’t be more aloof. Finally, flowers guide Christian to the building where he ultimately cheats on Dani. 

Flowers are also often used as symbols of rebirth and fertility. While there’s a literal connotation with that meaning when the flowers guide Christian to his doom, there’s also a perversion at play. 

There’s a stark juxtaposition at the end of the film seeing Dani covered in beautiful flowers as she watches her former friends, many of whom have already died, be burned alive in the ceremonial structure.

Midsommar Explained - Dani in Flowers

Midsommar Ending Explained  •  Haunting Scene

In a perverse way, Dani has indeed been reborn. She’s found a new community to be a part of. She doesn’t have to deal with people who don’t care about her trauma, and instead, she can stay in this village where everyone will share her emotions with her. 

Midsommar is a trip you may not always want to take. But it’s so much more than a creepy journey to a remote Swedish village. It’s something a lot of people can relate to… even if they’ve never stuffed their ex into a bear carcass. 

Us — Plot, Symbolism Explained

Now that you can impress your friends by explaining the true meaning of Midsommar , let’s tackle another potentially confusing film: Jordan Peele’s Us . In the director’s follow-up to Get Out , he crafts a terrifying tale that makes some salient points concerning modern American society. Let’s dive into our next explainer on Us .

Up Next: Us Explained →

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This film makes me wonder how the horrific suicides of the two older people didn't send them running for the hills. Especially Dani, whose sister committed suicide. I would think she'd want to turn tail and run as fast as she could. They just seemed to buy their explanations and eat or drink everything offered, pubes and all. The cloth pictograph with the pubic hair/urine drunk man was never questioned. Overall, a gorgeously shot film full of sinister behaviour disguised in the most beautiful way. Truly disturbing.

It is an interesting analysis, but I don't think I agree with you talking about Christian cheating; he was raped, but Dani misunderstood. Peeping from the keyhole, she didn't see the full truth. I think it is very important to note how their relationship was so toxic and Christian was a bad boyfriend to the point where her vision got clouded and manipulated.

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Midsommar’s twisted ending, explained

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Florence Pugh in Midsommar.

Midsommar , the new movie from Hereditary director Ari Aster, is not what you’d call a straightforward, lighthearted summer film. “I keep telling people I want it to be confusing,” Aster told me when I spoke to him about it shortly before the film’s release.

But in truth, the events in most of the film’s 140-minute runtime are fairly easy to follow; it’s in the ending where things get a little wild, grand, and possibly baffling. (Which seems, if you’ve seen Hereditary , to be Aster’s signature move.) However, whether you really lock into what’s happening at the end depends on how attentive you were to what happened earlier, particularly shifts in Dani’s mental and emotional state.

So here’s a quick overview of Midsommar leading up to the ending, what happens at the end, and what it (probably) means, though there are plenty of alternate interpretations available. I’ll presume you’ve seen the film already, which means that there are LOTS OF SPOILERS to come.

If you’re looking for a review of the film, with a few basic plot details but no major spoilers, then read this instead .

Seriously: If you don’t want to be spoiled, abandon ship now.

film analysis midsommar

Midsommar is the story of Dani’s emotional journey

You can split Midsommar into a few distinct sections.

There’s the overture: everything that happens before the title cards appear, in the snowy undefined landscape, when Dani’s family dies and she is plunged into grief.

Then there’s the first section, which begins two weeks before the group — Christian, Mark, Dani, Josh, and Pelle — head to Sweden, and ends when they walk through the big wooden sunburst and into the idyllic village of the Harga. Throughout this section, Dani is trying to put on a brave face; she only lets out her guttural sobs in private bathrooms, with the doors closed. The mushrooms the group takes upon entering the field before the village nearly unhinge her, but she runs into the woods to hide their effect and is only found by the group after she falls asleep.

The second section begins when the Americans arrive in the village and lasts until shortly after the events at the Ättestupa, the high cliff where the elders throw themselves to their deaths. The outsiders, still reeling from watching the brutal deaths, are seated at the table with the others, and the novelty and beauty of the place has worn off. Josh is mad at Christian for stealing — excuse me, collaborating on — his thesis idea. Mark is convinced that one of the Harga men, who’s glowering at him across the way, is going to kill him for pissing on the ancestral tree.

In this section, Dani has been slowly becoming aware that she’s trying too hard to make excuses for Christian, who seems disconnected from her, forgetting her birthday and generally being inattentive to her emotional state. Pelle tells her that he, too, lost his parents (“in a fire” — the details aren’t clear, but after watching the film, you might have a better sense of how that happened) and asks her if Christian feels like “home” to her, whether he “holds” her. That seems to shake something loose in Dani.

A scene from Midsommar

During dinner, Dani tells Christian that fellow outsider Simon left his girlfriend, Connie, behind in the village (or that’s what they think — of course, the reality is something quite different), and then bitterly says that she thinks Christian would do that, too. Instead of replying with reassurance, Christian sourly eats a pie containing what looks to be a pubic hair and drinks from a glass containing a liquid that’s pointedly pinker than everyone else’s. (If you’re confused, recall the cloth the camera panned across earlier, hanging on a clothesline, that Pelle calls “kind of a love story.”)

All that to say, the sheen of this idyllic village has worn off by then. There’s a long shot in which Dani, Christian, Josh, and Mark are sitting side by side at the table, each looking angry. And that’s where the second section of the film ends: The Harga haven’t changed, but the Americans’ impression of them has shifted uncomfortably.

The third and final section of the film starts out feeling like it will be kind of a whodunnit. Simon and Connie have gone missing, and soon after, Josh and Mark both disappear after disrespecting the traditions of the Harga. (Mark wanders off with a girl with whom he has not been approved to mate; Josh sneaks back into the Oracle’s house to read from the sacred book of runes, and is killed by the Oracle, now wearing Mark’s face. Don’t mess with the Harga.)

So when the day of the Maypole dance begins, Christian and Dani are the only outsiders remaining with the Harga. And that’s when things really start to go sideways. Dani is sent with the women to ready themselves for the dance, while Christian goes as instructed to the house of Siv, the Harga matriarch, and informed that he has been approved to mate with Maja.

A scene from Midsommar

He seems confused by this, but also — in typical Christian fashion — lacks the cojones to show either enthusiasm or disgust. There has never been a boyfriend who’s more of a wet lump of nothingness than Christian.

(Mating rituals with outsiders are necessary to the continuation of the Harga because of their strict incest taboo, except the carefully planned inbreeding needed to create the Oracle. This could, incidentally, be read as a nod to Sweden’s history; when they first land in Sweden, Mark remarks crassly on how beautiful Swedish women are, and Josh tells him it’s because the Vikings dragged the most beautiful women from other lands back with them.)

Meanwhile, Dani has been dressed in the white dress and flower crown the rest of the girls are wearing, and she lines up to get a small dose of potent, pungent tea before the dance begins. And that’s when things really get cracking.

The end of Midsommar shows that this has been a fairy tale all along

The events of the end of Midsommar are fairly straightforward, even though there’s a lot that happens offscreen (like most of the deaths, for instance, and clearly some Harga machinations and plotting as well). Dani dances with the other girls, is the last one standing in their apparent competition (sort of by accident), and becomes the May Queen. During the feast following, Dani is led away to bless the crops, while Christian is led away to, uh, mate with Maja, surrounded by a dozen naked women in a semicircle who sing and match Maja’s breathing. Dani discovers Christian in flagrante and finally lets out her howling grief, surrounded by a half-dozen girls who match her keening with their own. Christian finishes the act, then runs out of the mating house naked and discovers, in a chicken coop, what happened to Simon.

The next day, following those twin fertility rituals (one for crops, the other for humans), the Harga announce that as the culmination of their great, once-every-90-year edition of a midsummer’s celebration, nine human lives will be sacrificed: four of their own, four outsiders (Simon, Connie, Josh, and Mark), and one to be selected by the May Queen. She can choose between Christian or a Harga selected by lottery, and she chooses Christian. He’s put into a bear carcass and wheeled into the previously off-limits yellow pyramid-shaped building, surrounded by the other eight sacrifices. The whole thing is set on fire; the Harga scream and yell; and the film concludes on Dani’s face, as she slowly, broadly smiles.

What the hell?

A scene from Midsommar.

Midsommar is not the kind of film where there’s a puzzle or a mystery to be solved. But I think the best way to think about what’s happening in this last section is through some of the clues dropped throughout the film about Dani’s journey throughout Midsommar .

In the early scenes, we see the inside of Dani’s apartment, and it’s useful to note how it’s decorated. On either side of her couch are two paintings: one of a series of moons (indicating the passage and cycle of time, presumably) and one rather wild-looking one that appears to be a woman running across corpses. There are also plants all around Dani’s apartment, in stark contrast to the snowy landscape outside.

Later, when Dani is lying on her bed, we see that there’s a large print hung above it. That print is “ Stackars lilla Basse! ” (“Poor little bear!”), which is an illustration by the Swedish painter and illustrator John Bauer, who died in 1918. He illustrated a number of fairy tales, including Oskuldens Vandring (translated something like The Walk of Innocence ), a fairy tale by Helena Nyblom about a sensual but innocent young girl walking through a forest. In this picture, she meets a bear, kisses his nose, and calls him a poor little bear.

The image doesn’t literally foreshadow the coming events in any way, but if you take all of these things together, you get hints of the story that’s to come. There’s the plants (when she’s on a mushroom trip, Dani sees grass growing through her hands and feet, and there’s a flower breathing in her May Queen crown). The moons (signifying the phases of time and light and darkness). The carnage and howling (self-explanatory). And, of course, the bear. It feels as if Dani is fated to become the May Queen, something that Pelle (who clearly has feelings for her anyhow; he speaks kindly to her, remembers her birthday, and kisses her full on the mouth) perhaps senses, and that’s why he’s so delighted when she decides to come to Sweden with the group.

That the bear image comes from a fairy tale also reminds us that Midsommar is more of a fairy tale than anything else, though — as Aster pointed out to me in an interview — it’s also clearly a folk horror film, in which outsiders visit a foreign place and start disappearing in pagan rituals. But thinking of it as a fairy tale helps sort out the ending.

(It’s worth noting that in the Harga community, and throughout Midsommar , images are constantly used to foreshadow events, whether in the images at the very start of the film — which literally tell the entire story of the film — or on the walls in the building where the young people sleep. The paintings above the beds that Christian and Dani sleep in depict what will happen to them, like a kind of prophecy.)

Dani, at the beginning of the film, loses her family tragically — she is orphaned. That’s a classic opening to a fairy tale (think of Cinderella or Snow White , for instance). She’s also a future queen. She travels to a faraway country and endures hardships and trials, but eventually, she finds a family. Yet she must rid herself of what an elder Harga calls their “worst affekts” — and finds that the ceremony of the Harga is precisely what she requires.

A scene from Midsommar

Her worst “affekts” — affections and emotions, in other words — are, as it turns out, all tied to Christian and the ways she’s been forced to sublimate her intense grief in order to keep him from leaving her. (Remember her conversation with an unseen friend on the phone, where she worried that someday her need for Christian’s emotional support would be a burden? Remember his horrible friend Mark saying that Dani was “literally abusive” for asking her boyfriend of more than three years to support her emotionally during family crises?)

The Harga seem to see this, and decide to use Christian, who is an “ideal astrological match” for Maja, for his genetic material, and then, as long as Dani picks him for the ceremony, for purging the worst affekts of the whole community.

Which is what is happening at the end. With the yellow pyramid building aflame, the whole community gathers outside, howling as they did at the Ättestupa. But this time, they also clutch at their faces and bodies, almost dancing, as if something bad is leaving their body. This is a purging ritual; they are allowing everything bad and dark inside themselves to be let out.

For Dani, though, the purging is complete. She is spent. And Christian is going up in flames before her eyes. As she watches, she realizes that he is gone. She is free. She smiles.

Dani — an orphan — finally has a family.

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midsommar 2019 explained - analysis of Ari Aster horror masterpiece

Film Analysis: Midsommar (2019) Explained

Ari Aster’s second feature film is a gruesome occult movie, where below the surface lies a heart-breaking drama about coping with grief. In this article, I take a deep dive into the film’s structure, the symbolism and the meaning of it.

Ari Aster proved himself to be a keen, auteur voice after the groundbreaking directorial debut Hereditary (2018) . An unpleasantly hypnotizing is what I’d call it, and its ominous atmosphere owed a lot to the climatic score and set designs. The American director skillfully blended a moving family drama with elements of pure horror, and far was this concoction from derivative. On the contrary, Hereditary (2018) appealed to many more viewers than suckers for ghosts and gore only.

One year later, Aster premiered his second feature film, Midsommar (2019) . As if building on top of Hereditary (2018) , Midsommar (2019) too explores the theme of grief .

Although it is not as meticulous about hidden symbols as Aster’s debut, nonetheless some parts and concepts used in the film were clearly subliminal and cerebral. Below, I lay out some of my thoughts and interpretations – make sure to comment and share your thoughts at the end of the article.

What is Midsommar (2019) about?

Florence Pugh as queen of may in midsommar 2019

Let’s recap the plot first.

In Midsommar (2019) Ari Aster delves further into an abyss filled with pain that he found curious in Hereditary (2018) a year back.

On one of her regular days, Dani (Florence Pugh) sits in her room, waiting for her troublesome sister to get in touch. Stressed out, she calls Christian (Jack Reynor), the boyfriend who’d rather sneakily scurry home than end the relationship properly. Soon the day turns grim when Dani learns about her entire family’s horrifying demise. With no close person other than Christian, she leaves behind her own dignity just to stick with him.

Christian, on the other hand, has already planned a trip with his uni buddies. One of them – a Swedish student named Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) – suggests his home village Hårga as their destination. All of the buddies study anthropology and the old traditions of the Midsommar festival seem perfect to explore and document. Although he’s unwilling to bring Dani around, Christian eventually convinces his friends to accept her and go together.

Just when they arrive in the ever-sunny village, things go awry.

Dani, the tormented protagonist of Midsommar (2019)

Dani’s is the tragic protagonist of Midsommar (2019) . Her nerves and stress fuel the willful subjection, and a desperate call for help. She is lost, she is hurt and makes your heart break.

Why does she never try to leave the village or break up with Christian?

What motivates Dani and how is the character designed?

The pivotal part of her character is the fear of being alone. Dani is in so much agony that the notion of being without a shoulder to cry on is just paralyzing for her. So paralyzing that staying with Christian, in spite of all the gut punches he delivers, seems a better investment. It’s hinted early on, when Christian manipulates Dani by telling her the trip to Sweden was supposed to be a surprise ( when actually she’s a fifth wheel ).

The perspective from which Aster tells the story is therefore of someone completely lost and solemn. Although that perspective shifts often, depicting the events from multiple angles as seen by various characters, Dani’s unnerving, defines the disturbing vibe of Midsommar (2019) . The palpable unease lets us wear the shoes of Dani – feel the wreckage that she became.

Roots of her drama are found in the devastating, long take, where Aster hints at the horrifying death of Dani’s parents and sister, peeking at three bodies with gas pipes glued to their mouths. A scene later, Dani’s grueling weeping meets with Christian’s cold “ it’s going to be alright ” -type pat on her shoulders.

The combination of the two moments describes the break-up drama that Midsommar (2019) orbits around. Even when Ari Aster introduces Dani, the girl is already immersed in a state of worry, as if suspecting something happened to her sister.

From that point onwards, the protagonist can never recover from her wounds. She tilts at windmills in order to prevail at Christian’s side. Dani’s trapped in a detrimental relationship, but bad publicity is better than none, which in her case translates to Christian the douchebag being better than no douchebag at all.

That desperate call for support rings a bell, because Aster used a similar design for Toni Collette’s character in Hereditary (2018) too. But the novelty, and therefore the difference between the two, stem from the endgame for each one.

Collette is possessed, a victim of her mother’s curse, hence her fate’s been sealed and she has no real grasp of what’s going on. Meanwhile Dani succumbs to the last resort choice – the cult – in order to find any kind of helping hand before she makes the final jump. And theoretically, she did have a way to act differently.

Moreover, Aster partially builds the horror in Midsommar (2019) around the fragility of the Pugh’s character, but also the inability to react and fight back. One could view it as a sadistic whim of the director, to subject the poor girl to humiliation, misery and dread on such a scale, without a way to stand up for herself. Dani perseveres without exhibiting any negativity or anger. She acts like sheep for the slaughter, at some point becoming too numb to even care.

Here Aster arrives at a conclusion that we all have our borders. Even the most good-willed person can withstand only as much, before reaching a point where nothing matters anymore. As the last sentences taken from Ari aster’s script of Midsommar (2019) say,

“ She has surrendered to a joy known only by the insane. She has lost herself completely and she is finally free. It is horrible and it is beautiful. ”

Indeed, that last smile Florence Pugh indicates that Dani has rid of doubts and gave in to the cult completely. That’s the completion of the tragic transformation of the protagonist of Midsommar (2019) .

Because all she ever wanted was warmth, and attention from Christian. What she gets is evidence that the bridge’s been burned and there is no way to cross that river. In that sense, Midsommar (2019) is, indeed, a break-up drama. A drama about two people unable to let go, for varying reasons, which eventually leads to more pain and further contortion of their bond.

According to director Ari Aster, the background story for Midsommar (2019) is rooted in his own break-up.

“I needed to write a break-up movie, because I have just gone through a break-up. And I saw a way of passing it through this sub-genre, the folk horror genre, and marrying those two things.”

I could argue though that the portrayal of Dani’s transformation is the only flaw in Midsommar’s (2019) narrative. Pugh’s character remains inadvertently stubborn and naive, a combination which loses its strong credibility over time. An obvious thing to do would be to leave the whole occult village, leave the asshole boyfriend and run for herr life.

However, she wades on into the grueling abyss of pain.

And so here I arrive at the next point of my analysis of Midsommar (2019) …

Why do the characters in Midsommar (2019) never leave the village?

Ari Aster talking to actors on set of midsommar 2019

After watching Midsommar (2019) for the first time, the above question nagged me. Ari Aster expects us to believe that this academic group is dumber than a box of hair. Why do they all stay?

Upon a second viewing, my focus was directed at that precise issue – whether Aster hints at the reasons or not. And the answer is, well, pretty obvious.

When Pelle introduces the pack to his brother, they all kick off the trip with… a trip. Dani’s hours-long blackout, during which something had to happen, could hide the fact that the cult already found and chose her for the ritual. Notwithstanding, the moment they all get high constitutes the “ unplugged ” mode switched on, meaning that much of what we see later on is heavily enhanced or even created entirely as a drug-fueled hallucination.

Aster leaves bread crumbs everywhere to make that statement true. He even admits that in interviews – the mushroom trip is quite crucial to Midsommar (2019) , and why the movie abounds in images of faces in the trees, and tiny weird rituals happening in the background. Drugs explain the overly bright sunlight everywhere, almost garish in its design. The intensity of colors and emotions can also be owed to the mushroom trip.

And if you wonder how come it is so accurate, ask actor Jack Reynor, who shared that he did his fair share of psychedelic drugs in his life, so he knows the drill.

Florence Pugh in Midsommar (2019) - cultural hater review

Moreover, let’s remember about the perspective. None of the characters is sober, and we watch the events from their eyes .

That’s why Aster intentionally points at the unbearable stupidity of Christian and his pals. None of those guys really pays attention anymore, and they’re drawn to the luminous, strangely hypnotizing foreign culture. Some of them just want to get laid (like Mark), some fulfilling their nerd hunger (Josh) or are too hammered to rationally connect the dots and see what’s inevitably going to happen to them.

Foreshadowing in Midsommar (2019)

The director also uses foreshadowing to point out the roles played in the ritual.

For instance, children playing “ skin the fool ” predict Mark ( the foolish jokester character ) being turned into a horrific jester puppet. No better scene uses foreshadowing than the slow camera slide over a large folk canvas which reveals a vast part of the plot.

Other paintings and frescos serve similar purpose. Look closely in the bedroom house, and you’ll see two people having sex in front of spectators, a painting clearly referring to Christian’s mating ritual. And as Ari Aster, along with Jack Reynor and Florence Pugh said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes , “ look at the walls and see what’s your interpretation “.

The Swedish folk art and culture in Midsommar (2019)

swedish folk art that inspired midsommar 2019

Make no mistake – Swedish people aren’t zany cannibals or ritualists. Nonetheless, much of the appealing visuals, art pieces and even particular motifs are very much embedded in the history of Swedish folk.

Let’s start with the meticulous design of the Swedish village Hårga, where most of the story takes place. The historical accuracy deserves an applause. Hälsingland, where Midsommar (2019) is set, has been known for its towering, wooden farmhouses, which are now part of UNESCO’s heritage .

As found on Wikipedia’s page on Hälsingland’s architecture,

“The Hälsingland farms reflect the rural construction techniques, using only wood, and are an expression of the popular architecture; the farmer’s way of building as it evolved according to the available means. To depict a general idea of the Hälsingland farm is difficult as they vary between parishes and periods of time. The uniqueness of these farms lie in the farmer’s ambition to build big. The farms have large and elaborately decorated dwelling houses, often two or three, sometimes housing several generations, whereas some houses were used only for festivities and others for sleeping, so called ”bed-cottages”.

And here’s a fragment about the frescos painted on the walls:

“Inside the farms houses of Hälsingland are magnificent and well-preserved interiors with art painted on the walls, stencilled wall decorations, and expensive wallpaper. Biblical motifs were transformed into Hälsingland milieu, funny stories and cautionary tales mixed in the artwork with the decorative style of the wandering painters from Dalarna, characterized by religious motifs, ribbons and large flowers.”

The impressive frescos are traditional not only to Sweden, but the entire Scandinavia. Rosemåling , as the whole style is called, is an art of on-wood painting technique, where floral patterns are used in geometrical shapes. Rosemåling pieces are often very colorful and quite stunning to look at. Aster and his crew were clearly inspired by Rosemåling, and incorporated its principles in interior designs, as well costumes.

Actually, Midsommar (2019) indicates that a lot of traditions, embedded in Scandinavian cultures, were researched for the film.

In one particularly blood-curdling scene, Christian finds one of the travelers Simon hanging half-alive in the chicken coop. What was actually done to the poor guy is a Viking ritualistic sacrifice to Odin called “ the blood eagle “, where skin is ripped from the back in a way that the victim remains alive. It’s a ritual profoundly used in The Vikings (2013-) too.

If you ever watched The Vikings (2013-) , then you probably recall the tattoos and symbolic inscriptions used by the Northmen. They are all parts of the Swedish folk culture too. According to Martin Karlqvist, cultural consultant of Aster, what we see in Midsommar (2019) is an amalgamation of historical analysis, their linguistic research made in the region and their own invention.

Other than that, Aster based Midsommar (2019) on an actual pagan celebration, which has its modernized form present today. The flower pole is built in numerous villages in Sweden, and the celebration includes getting pretty hammered and dancing around the pole.

However, no human sacrifices are performed, fortunately.

Occultism in Midsommar (2019) explained

maja in midsommar 2019

We have already established that Ari Aster draws a lot from Swedish folklore, which is an obvious choice given the setting. And those elements, the folk art, the Rosemåling, and the Hälsingland setting, are all tools for the director to build credibility, but also support his beloved theme – occultism.

Occultism in horror movies is often reduced to vaguely sketched rites and masked cabals, and no deeper understanding of cults is provided in a vast majority of them. But Ari Aster has a thing for cults, and he perfected their portrayal in Midsommar (2019) .

Occultism in Midsommar (2019) structures the plot. Most of the story converts into parts of a grand ritual of the circle of life. Dani, Christian and the others all play their part, though unwittingly, and their minute roles guide the audience through the complexity of ritualistic dances, and sacrifices. Impressive is Ari’s eye for detail, as he catches the candour of the cult, a hypnotizing type of manipulative bonding that instantly rings an alarm yet still makes you want to know them more.

The ritual of life and death

The Hårga ritual in Midsommar (2019) completes the circle of life, apparently renewed every 90 years according to Pelle. An elderly couple throws themselves off a cliff – the infamous Ättestupa – which marks the beginning of the actual ceremony. Over its course, the cult sacrifices nine lives in order to continue the circle. The seal is then made by Christian inseminating one of the cabal girls. Through the bloody ritual, the Hårga settlers connect with their Gods, and remain fertile.

When it comes to the cult itself, Aster avoids shortcuts or categorization of his own creation. The Swedish cult is far more advanced than the one in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) , or even the classic The Wicker Man (1973) . Despite the horror, the director takes a sociology-driven, almost anthropological approach. Midsommar (2019) works as a study of a closed-off community, as if Aster really visited those people trying to understand their violent ( yet paradoxically peaceful ) way of life.

While the cult’s devious rites are a bloody mess, Ari Aster can’t help but sympathize with that culture, at least partially. Their integrity is pivotal for the director, as is the cathartic ritual performed at the end. It is not the kind of sadistic cabal sacrifice made for a carnage-loving deity, but rather the final point of their life circle, a gloriously delirious fulfillment, as well as a guarantee to their’ tradition’s continuity.

Arguably, one could go as far as to say that the cultists embraced Dani as their own, healing her wounded soul and mind. And from the way Aster paints the rest of the characters, each of them asked for the eventual bane to come. As polarizing as it is, the Hälsingland cult didn’t draw satisfaction from the sacrifices.

Hårga – the setting of the movie

Hårga, which actually is a real place in Sweden, isn‘t – quite obviously – inhabited by a bunch of lunatics. But the place has been downtrodden by a poem , which actually mentions the Queen of May and a demon that tricks people into dancing to his fiddling until they all fall dead. Ari Aster actually admitted in an interview that this folk poetry planted the idea of setting the story in Hårga.

The magic of cinematography in Midsommar (2019) explained

mating ritual in midsommar 2019

Moving on to the technical side of the movie.

Cinematography by Paweł Pogorzelski plays an immensely important role in Aster’s design. The stuffy, dark rooms-centered beginning of Midsommar (2019) sets the brooding atmosphere, and catches one by surprise. After the bright trailers established expectations of a horror in broad daylight, Ari begins with gloomy, suburban setting.

This beginning is pivotal for Paweł Pogorzelski though. It captures the gloominess of Dani, the bleak lack of energy, all-grey-everyday routine that further poisons her mind. Pogorzelski establishes a convincing contrast by making the pre-Sweden part of Midsommar (2019) so unappealing, and then lighting the film on fire with brightness and richly diverse colors.

The natural lighting is of particular meaning, as it corresponds to the film’s title – Midsommar (2019) means the middle of the summer – and the celebration of the cult. Horrors got audiences used to seeing darkness as the flagged danger, however Aster proves light can be just as menacing and terrifying.

The Polish cinematographer has also incorporated a few neat tricks to make his work even more characteristic. Some camera movements suggest a break from third-person narrative, and place it among the characters. For instance, when Christian discovers the mutilated body in the barn, the camera shuts just as his eyelids, creepily moving the lenses from inside Christian’s head.

But the true craft of Pawel Pogorzelski lies within the scene framing. There are multiple stills from Midsommar (2019) when Pogorzelski really captures the moment.

The soundtrack by Bobby Krlic in Midsommar (2019)

The work of Bobby Krlic, who composed the Midsommar (2019) soundtrack, completes the disturbing atmosphere that Pogorzelski creates visually.

Audiophiles shall be pleased with the range of horrific sounds, and climatic string poems played out in the blazing sun of Sweden. String instruments lead the pack, constructed by Krlic as to extract the blood-chilling potential. The opening track called Prophesy brings The Beauty And The Beast (…) and its classic fabulous beginning. Krlic then sets the mood with a ritualistic Gassed , a perfect, string crescendo that builds the anticipation until Ari Aster’s ready to reveal the film’s title. There is an outstanding power to this composition, due to the way Krlic uses Florence Pugh’s crying and weaves into Gassed .

Lots of Bobby Krlic’s work in Midsommar (2019) reaches for soothing ambient, and dreamy compositions which beautifully correspond with the otherworldly setting. Two sonorous tracks entitled The Blessing and The House That Hårga Built reflect the cult’s harmony and tranquility, as well as the closeness to nature and circle of life. Nonetheless, Krlic always keeps the uplifting notes bizarrely unnerving.

The composer creates a contrast between those mellifluous parts and the ambients blended with raging strings. Using the actors’ lines works perfectly for the setup made for Aster’s most uncompromising and unsettling scene too – Christian speaking the Hårga’s language of sex with the young redhead girl. The eerie humming instantly brings Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Johann Johannsson’s work on Sicario (2015) , particularly a track called Alejandro’s Song.

Bobby Krlic’s pinnacle comes about during the grand finale of Midsommar (2019) . A 9-minutes long crescendo entitled Fire Temple captures the dichotomy with which Aster likes to end a film. On the one hand, the score is uplifting, with its array of strings and soothing theme. Krlic achieves a nearly celebratory shape in this last part, which corresponds with what Aster shows. As we watch the ultimate sacrifice, the completion of Dani’s changeling, the death and the catharsis, it is the music that amps up the emotions. And just when you forget the horror of it all, Krlic breaks the beauty, with one low note constructed of dissonant strings, which serve as a wake-up call.

At the end of the day, the soundtrack of Midsommar (2019) leaves the same impression as the film itself – it crawls under your skin and hypnotizes, in order to reach the terrifying realization of just how forlorn it is.

Is Midsommar (2019) available online?

Unfortunately, Midsommar (2019) isn’t currently available on any of the popular streaming platforms.

Summary – Midsommar (2019) explained

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‘Midsommar’ explained: The filmmakers unpack the sex, rituals and shocking ending

As exacting and detailed as Ari Aster is as a filmmaker, he’s surprisingly low-key about how to pronounce the title of his new film, “Midsommar.” While he, as many do, says “mid-so-mar,” others are going with “mid-summer.”

“That’s fine as well,” he said. “Either way.”

That atypical shot of easygoing energy also plays into the uncanny mix of restraint and chaos that gives “Midsommar” — Aster’s second film, and the follow-up to his acclaimed 2018 horror hit “Hereditary” — its shocking, disturbing power. A dark tale set mostly in the bright sunlight of a secluded Swedish village, the film tells the story of a young woman, Dani (Florence Pugh), who is gripped with grief after a horrific family tragedy finds little solace from her increasingly distant boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor).

When Christian begrudgingly invites Dani to join him and some fellow anthropology graduate students on a trip to Sweden to visit a community known as the Harga, their fates are mutually sealed. They become far more than just observers, but unwitting pawns in a series of rituals and customs that play out with ultimate consequences.

With no less than “Get Out” and “Us” maestro Jordan Peele declaring in a Fangoria interview that “Midsommar” has “some of the most atrociously disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen on film,” the movie has been generating a lot of conversation. Aster was racing to finish the film for its initial screenings just a few weeks ahead of release and almost immediately began doing extensive interviews. To get the film ready in time, his final mixing session was a 23-and-a-half hour day of work.

“It’s very surreal because we just finished the movie,” he said during a recent stop in Los Angeles. “There’s something very strange about finishing a movie and simultaneously having opinions raining down on it. It’s a relief that it’s not being panned.”

Warning: Major spoilers for “Midsommar” follow. Stop reading if you haven’t seen the film and want to stay in the dark.


The end credits for “Midsommar” feature the unusual credit “Concept of the Hargas by Martin Karlqvist and Patrik Andersson.” The origins of the film came when Aster was approached by Andersson, a Swedish producer, and his friend Karlqvist, with an idea for a Swedish-set folk-horror tale. After working with them on research of Swedish folk traditions, as Aster sat down to write the script, he was drawn to take it in another direction following a tumultuous romantic break-up.

The intense detail of the Harga culture naturally leads to questions of just how much of it has some basis in reality. Aside from his research with Karlqvist, Aster also worked with Henrik Svensson, a musician and artist in Sweden. After Svensson began assisting with further research, he would eventually make his debut as a feature film production designer, bringing the Harga village to life in Hungary, where most of the film was shot.

“This is not Swedish history. This is folklore,” Aster is careful to note.

“All of them are true,” Svensson said on the phone from Stockholm regarding the rituals depicted in the movie having at least some basis in historical fact, such as the oversized mallet used to finish the job when an older couple attempts suicide by jumping from a cliff.

“The mallet, we did a replica of the mallet from a museum we saw in Stockholm,” he said. “When they jump from a cliff that was the custom until not so long ago, for elderly people. But they mainly got pushed. And many of the cliffs are now historic sites for everyone to see. So it’s true, all of it. And that’s the scary part.”


“Hereditary” fused the occult tumult of “Rosemary’s Baby” with the family drama of “Ordinary People.” For “Midsommar,” Aster has created a conjoined hybrid of “The Wicker Man” style folk horror with the painful examination of heartbreak as in “Modern Romance.”

“For me, the film is incidentally a folk horror film. If anything, this is my attempt at making a big operatic breakup movie that feels the way a breakup feels,” said Aster. “That sort of makes literal those feelings, where a breakup can feel apocalyptic, like the world is ending. And so there’s a pleasure in taking a movie to that extreme.

“Anybody watching the trailer for ‘Midsommar,’ you probably know where it’s going, right? These people are going to be sacrificed,” he said. “And so that made it the least interesting thing for me. It was about getting to that inevitable ending in a way that feels emotionally surprising. And my way in was by kind of working through my breakup.”

However, Aster is conscientious to point out, “Nobody in the movie is a surrogate for my ex-girlfriend. It’s not like this is what I want to do to my ex, but there is a feeling of you want to set fire to that part of yourself and that part of your life and move on clean because it’s so painful.”


Before the Americans even arrive to the main village, they take psychedelic mushrooms, making them less trusting of what is happening around them and exacerbating the distance and miscommunication between Dani and Christian. Once they are among the Hårga, they are frequently given tea which is likewise laced with some kind of hallucinatory substance. The image of the film often subtly warps as the actors at times seem a bit dazed as if they are off on their own separate trips.

“Can you think of any film that you’ve watched that has as accurately represented the experience of a mushroom trip?” Reynor said.

As to capturing the spaced-out sensations of the drug in his performance, he responded, “I’ve done my fair share of psychedelic drugs. I’ve had my share of mushroom trips.

“We had some conversations with the other members of the cast, some of them, who hadn’t had mushroom trips before and talked about the experiences of it and how it feels,” he added. “And I felt like by and large, all of the performances really hit the right beats of what it’s like to be under the influence of mushrooms.”

Aster said it was a “long process of trial and error” to find the exact nuance of the visuals. “There are some things we did in camera, but for the most part we had visual effect artists doing that in post,” he said. “I’m sure for some of those shots we got to the point where we had 60 versions. In one iteration the tripping was way too distracting and you’re not paying attention to the characters, and then you brought it down to the point where if you are paying attention to the characters, you’ll never notice the tripping effects.

“We settled on that the week before we screened the film,” he added. “I hope we landed at the right place.”


The costumes of the Harga village also tell a story. Costume designer Andrea Flesch, who worked on such intricately detailed films as “The Duke of Burgundy” and “Colette,” ordered buttons from Sweden and antique linen sourced from Hungary and Romania. Many pieces were hand-embroidered, while others were painted or printed, with costumes used to signify different families and even different jobs within the community, such as servers or musicians. Each costume was given an individual runic symbol to identify the characters.

“It’s a classic Swedish cut and design,” said Flesch, in a call from Hungary. “but Ari had the decision that everybody’s in white and that these people are making their clothes for themselves. So all the costumes had to be different by little details, it’s all handmade both in real life and in the story of the film. It’s as if they made it just for themselves.”

Among the many background details for audiences to catch on repeat viewing are the murals and tapestries that are seen all around the village — which presage many of the events of the film.

“I like things that really encourage a more active audience engagement,” said Aster, “and if there’s a way to provide exposition in a way that makes the audience do a certain amount of work — that encourages them to lean in towards the movie as opposed to handing people that information — it’s just more fun.”

“We never talked about giving away too much,” said Svensson. “Because we always thought that this film has no real surprises in it. You know from the beginning more or less what’s going to happen. And I never thought people would see that much [of the murals]. It’s a lot of paintings, but most of them are in the background or out of focus. So we could really push it.”


One of the things revealed on a tapestry is the love ritual that is performed on Christian, meant to bind him to a specific young woman for conception and procreation. This leads to one of the most disturbing scenes in the film, in which a drugged-out Christian is brought in to have sex with the young woman in front of a chorus of chanting naked women. The scene is unnerving and darkly funny; its intricate choreography akin to that of a musical number.

For Reynor, the scene brought up a mix of emotions. He was attempting to keep up the spirits of the background players, none of whom spoke English, during the more than 16-hour final day of shooting, while also conveying empathy and understanding to actress Isabelle Grill, who was shooting her first feature film, in the scene with him. All while grappling with his own feelings of vulnerability in shooting an intense scene completely naked — the likes of which are usually experienced by women in horror films.

“You don’t see that stuff happening to male actors in films very much,” said Reynor. “Although it’s not pitched at the same level of violence, it does flip that dynamic on its head a little bit, and it was an opportunity for me to experience something of that as a male actor.

“And to shoot a scene where I was going to have to be exposed — I advocated for as much full-frontal nudity as possible,” he added. “I really wanted to embrace the feeling of being exposed and the humiliation of this character. And I felt really, really vulnerable, more than I had actually even anticipated.”

As “Midsommar” has been making its way to audiences, Aster and Reynor have noticed that people are divided in their responses toward Dani and Christian and their respective fates.

“In the context of the relationship, is it what the character deserves?” asks Reynor. “Symbolically, yes, it is. But audiences seem to be polarized about their feelings, some people empathize with the character and then other people just feel, ‘Nope, that’s what you get.’

“I feel like the film says a lot about its audience,” he added, “You know as much about the audience that watches it as it says about anything else.”

“I see the film as being a perverse wish fulfillment fantasy,” said Aster. “Christian and his friends, they’re all walking into a folk horror movie and that’s what the movie is going to be for them. But for Dani, by the end it’ll be revealed that in fact the movie is a fairy tale only for her.”

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film analysis midsommar

Mark Olsen writes about all kinds of movies for the Los Angeles Times as both a feature writer and reviewer.

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Midsommar ending explained: Why Dani did what she did, and what it all meant

The truth laid bare…

Midsommar could rightly claim to deliver one of the most chilling movie endings this decade (if not century), and it's an ending that lingers in your memory long after you've seen the horror.

All we really have to say is "bear" and you're right back there. But it's also an ending that could leave you questioning just why Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian's (Jack Reynor) relationship ends the dark, dark way that it does.

Whether you've just experienced the horror for the first time or have had a rewatch and still have some questions, we're here to help with exactly why Dani does what she does at the end of Midsommar – and that unsettling smile of hers.

Major spoilers ahead, of course.

Florence Pugh in Midsommar

Midsommar ending explained

Midsommar is essentially a two-and-a-half-hour study of one woman's emotional journey towards emancipation from a toxic relationship. The film has a happy ending, more or less.

Even though it might seem seem like a confusing, bleak and fairly extreme decision to kill someone for cheating, there's a bit more to it than that. Aster spends most of the film showing us how terrible Dani's relationship is, rather than revelling in the spookiness of horror clichés.

We see how casually horrible her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) is, dismissing her worries about her family then barely helping her through the grieving process, almost abandoning her to go on holiday with his mates, before grudgingly bringing her along.

Oh, and once there, he totally forgets her birthday. If this was Love Island he would have been pied off after the first recoupling.

jack reynor, midsommar

Still, Dani's priority is keeping him happy, which she does by apologising frequently and saying 'thank you' at inappropriate times – hiding her true pain, crying in solitude.

Having lost her biological family, Dani is hanging on to the closest thing she has left – her relationship, putting up with some gross friends in the process (friends who will eventually vanish one by one).

Christian is so selfish he makes Dani stay with a strange Swedish Pagan group, even after it's revealed they're a suicide cult, because he wants to write a thesis on their culture. Like, read the room, bro.

However, that culture involves the election of a May Queen, via a trial by maypole, with the last dancer left standing the winner. This is an extremely important sequence – it's the first time we see Dani truly happy and part of a community. Even if she is a bit baffled by the end result, which feels either set up or ordained by fate.

After a special dinner, where Dani still shows some concern for Christian, asking if she can bring him with her for the next part of the ceremony, the couple are separated. Christian takes the opportunity to run off with a red-haired girl, who wants him to impregnate her (surrounded by a group of naked people who look like they've wandered in from the set of Hereditary ).

Dani witnesses the coupling and is comforted by a group of women, who instigate a strange screaming and breathing exercise, with the gang surrounding her and reflecting her pain, copying her shudders and howls.

florence pugh in midsommar

This is another extremely important sequence in terms of setting up the ending. Where Dani was once forced to hide her tears and her sobs for fear of being a burden, Dani's grief is being acknowledged and shared by the people in her community.

This is why, when faced with the choice between sacrificing her boyfriend and a random member of a community she’s only been a part of for four days, she chooses to kill her boyfriend. She has a new family who will support her through her pain.

Following the movie's release, Aster explained that he was inspired by a recent break-up to write the movie as a "perverse wish fulfilment" .

"I hope it will also have people cheering and then maybe hopefully later on contending with that a little bit more," he added of the shocking ending. "I say, 'F**k it, just enjoy it'. But, there should be an aftertaste to the uplift, I guess."

florence pugh as dani in midsommar

As for why Christian is sewn into a bear for the sacrifice, it’s either a reference to Nicolas Cage's bear costume in The Wicker Man remake (with the original Wicker Man being a clear influence on Aster here) or it's to underline the fact we're watching a fairytale.

The movie begins with a storybook illustration laying out the whole film, and there's artistic foreshadowing throughout that this is a dark take on a Hans Christian Andersen-style story (though he was Danish, not Swedish).

Think of the painting in Dani's apartment of a little girl touching a bear – an illustration of the 'The Walk of Innocence' by Helena Nyblom, a fairy story about a young woman who kisses a bear and feels sorry for him.

There's no sympathy here, of course, with Dani's reaction to Christian's death being a big grin. She has reached catharsis by confronting her fear of loss, finding a new family to help her through the aftermath.

Midsommar is available to watch on Netflix.

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A still from “Midsommar.”

“Midsommar,” Reviewed: Ari Aster’s Backward Horror Story of an American Couple in Sweden

film analysis midsommar

By Richard Brody

Ari Aster is a writer and director of cult movies—his two features, “ Hereditary ,” from 2018, and “Midsommar,” which opened last week, are both grotesque and gory dramas about cults. “Hereditary” showed a family’s destruction by an ancient curse, which turned a young suburban man into a mystical cult’s unwilling king. “Midsommar” is the story of a group of American graduate students who are invited, or lured, by a Swedish friend to a remote summer festival, which turns out to involve a series of ritual murders. Both films are built backwards—their elaborate setups are designed to generate particular images of horror. Their psychology is flimsy, their characters undeveloped beyond a small set of traits that lead, inevitably, to the films’ results. Aster lines up details that don’t merely invite reconciliation but provide virtually the entire dramatic experience. There’s a political tinge to those details, which presents an illusion of substance and a veneer of social conscience. In “Hereditary,” it’s a literal perpetuation of patriarchy; in “Midsommar,” it’s the fecklessness of a shitty boyfriend. But, in both movies, the imagery that gives them their emotional impact takes precedence over any dramatic considerations. In “Hereditary,” the less-ambitious film, the results are merely ludicrous; in the grander and more visionary “Midsommar,” they’re regressive, the product of a filmmaker who’s so busy looking at his images that he doesn’t see what he’s doing.

“Midsommar” begins with a tragedy. The protagonist, Dani (Florence Pugh), a psychology student, discovers a terrifying e-mail from her sister, Terri (Klaudia Csányi), who is bipolar. Home alone, Dani seeks the consolation of her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), a graduate student in anthropology, who’s hanging out with his male friends. After he grudgingly agrees to see her that night, Dani learns that Terri has killed her parents and herself. Several months later, Christian is preparing to take a trip to Sweden in the company of his fellow anthropology students, the earnest Josh (William Jackson Harper) and the frivolous Mark (Will Poulter), at the invitation of yet another classmate, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren). It’s supposed to be a guys’ trip, spiced with the fantasy of Swedish women awaiting them, and Christian has been keeping it a secret until soon before the departure date. Nonetheless, he again grudgingly invites the grieving Dani to come along, and, to his and his friends’ dismay, she accepts.

The exposition, setting up the premise for the trip, is both lugubriously long and trivializingly brief. The entire drama depends upon the relationship between Dani and Christian, but, in lieu of developing it, Aster drops details onscreen like index cards. Dani wonders, on the phone to a friend, whether she has been burdening Christian with her troubles. In a bar, Christian’s friends echo back at him that Dani is depending on him and “doesn’t like sex.” But little of their relationship is actually shown. Aster reduces the film’s central dynamic to something even less thoughtful than stereotype or cliché—he renders it as assumptions, as offscreen events that suffice to be filled in by viewers. He does the same with Terri’s agonies and Dani’s grief; he uses the theme of mental illness and constructs the thin and bare texture of Dani’s life not to consider her experience but to enable his plot. Orphaned and seemingly completely isolated, with no friends or other relatives, Dani is both tethered solely to Christian and vulnerable to the wiles of a surrogate family, however malevolent.

By the time the group gets to Sweden, the movie, only a few minutes old, is virtually over: it’s built on such a void of insight and experience, such a void of character and relationships, that even the first level of the house of narrative cards can’t stand. Not long after they arrive at the isolated grounds of the festival, it becomes clear to them that they’ve been lured into a sort of cult. The residents wear floral white robes and practice traditional arts and crafts, and they welcome their visitors with a cheerful round of hallucinogenic mushrooms. But the rigid order of their society quickly appears coercive and soon turns deadly, with the enforced ritual suicide of two elderly people. As the action proceeds, the film devolves into a sort of pseudo-anthropological version of “And Then There Were None,” as the visitors become, successively, victims of ever more horrific, ritually mandated killings.

The scheme of “Midsommar” revolves around its characters’ field of study, anthropology: the organization of society, the nature of culture. One of the crucial pretexts for the graduate students’ trip to the festival is that Josh is writing his thesis on summer-festival rituals across cultures and hopes to include this one in his research. What’s more, after his first experiences at the festival, Christian, who’s floundering in his field and unsure about his thesis topic, decides to make it his subject of study, as well, creating a rift between the two friends that further isolates both and renders them ever more vulnerable to the cult’s clutches. The trip’s anthropological basis, and the theoretical premise enfolding the elaborately imagined festival, suggests an admirably bold ambition on the part of Aster—a severe test of artistry akin to the grand design of Jordan Peele, who, in his second feature, “ Us ,” embraced a similarly vast view of social order symbolically, and that of Jim Jarmusch in his political zombie movie “ The Dead Don’t Die .”

Yet the world-building of “Midsommar” remains at the level of information-dosing; Aster doesn’t imagine the story in relation to modern experience—there isn’t even the power of Google, with which his characters could put the rustic retreat of horror into context (or wonder at the lack of it). By binding his characters to the needs of the plot, Aster reduces the film’s grand purview to a petty grumble and, in the process, he uses the anthropological framework—likely unintentionally—as the basis for a smug and narrow-minded pathologizing of social science. After the suicides of the elderly people, the only other two visitors, Connie (Ellora Torchia) and Simon (Archie Madekwe), horrified, decide to leave the compound at once, and are, supposedly, being taken to the nearest train station by a member of the group—separately. That separation, obviously suspicious, is justified by one resident on the grounds that the only available truck is a two-seater, and one couldn’t sit on the other’s lap because, he says, “We don’t break traffic laws.”

That’s the best single line reading, the only truly memorable moment of performance, in the entire movie. It’s also the movie’s most meaningful, and grimmest, joke. Rulebound but lawless, living nominally in Sweden but utterly cut off from the supervision and regulation of Swedish law, the cult is the very essence of autonomy, of a freely chosen social organization that’s subject to no other civil authority—and that, at the same time, asserts its own sense of righteousness on the grounds of ancient and transcendent authority. In this sense, the subject of “Midsommar” is the absurdity and obtuseness of suspending moral judgment for other cultures in the name of curiosity, respect, or relativism.

In the course of the film, Dani sees the depths of betrayal to which Christian is willing to descend. (Is he groomed, drugged, desperate to ingratiate himself with his hosts, who are now also his thesis benefactors, merely monstrous, or some combination thereof? The movie doesn’t say; for all the time that the couple spends together, Aster doesn’t pause or detour to hear their thoughts.) Dani ultimately gets a measure of revenge—though even this, in Aster’s archly plotted script construction, offers Dani some mixed motives of her own, a measure of mercy along with her rage. It isn’t only anthropology that comes in for derision; Dani’s studies in psychology, too, are rendered ludicrous as much by the cult’s perverse cruelty as by her own unexplored and vague relationship to all of her experiences.

On the other hand, Aster is big on décor and costume. The architectural idiosyncrasy of the buildings on the vast property; the intricate wallpaper; the elaborate mural that shows, briefly but unambiguously, a woman cutting her own genitals; the floral arrangements and table settings; the sheafs and tarps laid out for hundreds of feet along the breadth and length of a pathway; the meticulous preparation of victims and laying out of corpses; even a few noteworthy special effects that conjure hallucinogenic states with wavery motions—all suggest a greater attention to eye-catching detail than to the lives or thoughts of the characters. Aster is after effects, not causes; doctrines, not ideas. Certain images of mutilated bodies, of violence, of gore, fulfill the basic requirements of the genre—they shock, they stir fear and revulsion, and they add an element of moral horror, the implications of which seem to have eluded Aster’s decorative gaze. Under the rhetoric of pleasure, freedom, and the warmth of a virtual extended family, Aster finds bloody totalitarian mind control. In the name of ethnographic interest, he finds complicity in evil. From the spirit of adventure and curiosity, he finds horror. In the end, the subject of “Midsommar” is as simple as it is regressive: lucky Americans, stay home.

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Film Review by Micah Bucey

Ari Aster shocked audiences in 2017 with the spooky smarts of his debut feature Hereditary . His latest exercise in grief and spirituality, Midsommar, expands his thematic obsessions in expansive, disturbing directions. With meticulous staging and detailed art direction, both films act as voyeuristic glimpses into the depths of this artist’s soul, as he throws genre elements onto the screen, stirs them up in surprisingly fresh ways, and offers up remixes of the familiar and the new that don’t always make complete narrative sense, but cannot help but haunt. And both films know their place. While Hereditary delved deep into darkness as black as night, Midsommar shows what horror can lurk on the sunny surface of the day.

film analysis midsommar

Aster is a master of mood, and Midsommar establishes its morosity early. College student Dani (Florence Pugh) is in deep grief following an unspeakable family loss. She seeks comfort from her dippy boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor), but he has been discussing breaking up with her with his pals, Swedish charmer Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), endlessly curious nerd Josh (William Jackson Harper), and exhausting joker Mark (Will Poulter). Sensing Dani’s desperation, Christian reneges on his plan to break it off before he disappears on a trip to Pelle’s remote religious community in rural Sweden; instead, he invites her to come along. The dread is undeniable from the outset, and Dani’s deep depression not only threatens to drag the friends’ planned fun down, but also gives the opening of the film an almost unbearable sense of unease, long before any traditionally expected abominations ensue.

film analysis midsommar

That this trip to “The Harga,” as Pelle’s commune is known, will soon descend into increasingly harrowing set pieces of violent, disturbing bedlam goes without saying. Midsommar has much to say about ritual, religion, and cultic sensibility, and much of the film’s running time is spent showcasing the community’s questionable practices. But the film’s lasting legacy lies not in the sum of its individual examples of terror (though these examples are mostly truly deranged and not for all audiences). Dani soon realizes that she’s an undesired tagalong, and her disappointment breaks her open and shoves her toward an unexpected alteration.

Midsommar ’s most potent power springs from its interrogation of how far disoriented humans will go to find a place to belong, how religion fills voids some folks don’t even know they have, and how mob mentality, when mixed with the little earthquakes of each individual’s disappointments and personal tragedies, often gives way to a bankrupt ecstasy that can dip into darkness, even in the daylight.

film analysis midsommar

Dani, played with devastating vulnerability by Pugh, is a revelation. Her journey from remorse-racked nobody to revenge-resolved icon is a study in how to shape a well-rounded female character, one with ample flaws and gifts, who gets swept up into a life-giving dance with murderous dangers she never could have imagined on her own. By the time the film veers into truly absurd territory, Aster and Pugh have undergirded Dani’s transforming reality with such precise character detail that it is impossible to not simultaneously want to celebrate her and castigate her, to revel in her chaotic catharsis and to rebuke her cockeyed morality.

Aster seems to want to trouble us, to show us both the generative potential of spirituality and the destructive shadows that often derail spirituality’s inherent good intentions. Audiences will leave with more questions and no answers. Aster is not a moralist, but an artist, content to show, not tell, to merely exhibit, not explain intention, and to create characters, not soapboxes. Dani’s trajectory will give ripe fodder for discussions on how one might seek connection in a dismissive world, how one might seek healing in a broken system, and how easily individual metamorphosis can descend into madness when the roots of spiritual possibility are not sown and tended in healthy soil, but instead left to rot and burn in the heat of unchecked, mounting fury.

Lions Gate, 07/19, DVD 10/19

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R - disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language

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‘Midsommar’ Ending Explained—The Power of Empathy and Manipulation

Midsommar Ending Explained

Midsommar  is a film that can make you feel liberated and manipulated, but why? Let's break down the ending to explain this bizarre, eerie feeling. 

There is nothing more satisfying to me than a horror story that manipulates the protagonist into a contributing villain.  Midsommar   does this through the blinding daylight sequences that do not hide the horrors of this small Swedish community in an ancestral commune in the woods. 

The  A24  daylight horror  Midsommar,  Ari Aster ’s follow-up to his directorial debut  Hereditary ,  took the world by storm, helping revive the folk horror genre while scaring us from stepping into the woods at any time of the day.

Although Aster describes the horror film as “a breakup movie dressed in the clothes of a folk horror film” to  Vulture , the film’s meaning is purposefully complex, creating conversations about what the film is trying to tell us about isolating grief and rebirth. 

Midsommar  is distributing and difficult to watch since everyone is minutes away from a bad trip. Despite the heightened anxiety, the film is intriguing to watch, and it's always fun to discover the little ways the visual storytelling leads you through the story. 

There is a lot to explain, so let’s see if we can discover the meaning of all of the psychedelic horrors we experience in  Midsommar .

Midsommar  Ending Explained

The purpose of folk horror, explaining the murals in  midsommar , the power of manipulation throughout  midsommar.

What does the ending mean? 

“I keep telling people I want [the film] to be confusing,” Aster told  Vox   while discussing the strange story of Dani (Florence Pugh) and her seemingly endless struggle with grief. The events of the story are fairly easy to follow, but the ending is when things get a little wild, shocking, and confusing. 

To fully understand the ending of  Midsommar  we have to understand what is happening throughout the film, particularly what shifts in Dani’s mental and emotional state, to fully understand the impact of that sadistic smile that Dani leaves us with. 

The  Midsommar  movie summary 

The opening scenes show us the two very different perspectives that American couple Dani and Christian (Jack Reynor) have of their relationship. Dani struggles with her outpour of emotions to build a stronger relationship with Christian, while he is clearly checked out and consistently emotionally unavailable to Dani. 

Dani is aware of the distance growing between them, and feels like an emotional burden, telling her nameless friend over the phone that she is afraid that she is pushing him away, but her friend reminds her that a boyfriend is supposed to be supportive, and Christian is just a dick. Christian’s friends, Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter), encourage him to end the relationship before Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) takes them on a trip to his ancestral commune in rural Hälsingland, Sweden. 

Unfortunately, the double murder-suicide of Dani’s entire family throws a wrench into Christian’s plans to break up with Dani. Despite Dani being an emotional wreck and struggling with her grief, Christian cannot be the supportive boyfriend Dani needs because he is more bothered by the fact that he couldn’t break up with her now.

Things become more emotionally strained when Dani finds out that Christian and his friends are traveling to Sweden to celebrate the midsummer festival. He apathetically invites her, confident that she won’t go due to her massive recent trauma, but she does agree to travel with them. Christian’s friends are all frustrated except for Pelle, who tells Dani he is glad she is going but ends up triggering a panic attack in Dani after revealing that his entire family also died. 

Midsommar Ending Explained

Once they arrive at the commune, they are met by British couple Connie (Ellora Torchia) and Simon (Archie Madekwe), students from London brought by Pelle’s brother, Ingemar (Hampus Hallberg). They all take psychedelic mushrooms, and Dani, unfortunately, ends up having a bad trip after Mark refers to the group as his family, and she begins to hallucinate about her deceased family.

She ends up falling asleep and wakes up to notice that it is still daylight, noting how the sun never sets where they are.

As the festivities begin, one of the villagers named Maja (Isabelle Grill) starts to flirt with Christain, which is the beginning of the commune's love ritual, further pulling Christain away from Dani. The next day, the group has supper with two elders as the guest of honor. After the meal, the two elders stand up and chant, take a shot, and are carried to a rocky landscape.

The group follows, only to unknowingly witness the Ättestupa, a ritualistic senicide that comes from Scandinavian folklore wherein elderly people throw themselves from a cliff to spare their community the burden of having to take care of them. The shocking scene shows the community's group empathy and a new perspective on death that helps Dani heal parts of her emotional wound.

Midsommar Ending Explained

At the end of the day, Dani is left feeling anxious and distressed, sneaking off to grieve alone, but the camera cuts before we see Dani break down, refusing to let her grief in the frame. Pelle finds Dani later packing her things, and tells her that the community collectively raised him and gave him a home after his family died, which he says is something Dani needs right now and isn’t getting from Christian. 

The next day, Pelle tells Josh and Christian that they can do their theses on the Härga, provided they adhere to strict privacy restrictions. Christian begins his thesis by asking how the Härga avoid incest and is told that outsiders are brought in for mating purposes. While Josh is looking at the Rubi Radr, the holy scripture of the commune which is finger-painted by Ruben (Levente Puczkó-Smith) and translated by the elders.

At dinner, Dani questions if the Härga people are being truthful about Simon leaving Connie behind, but Dani then tells Christain that she could see him abandoning her like that. Christian gets a special meat pie with pubic hair in it and washes it down with a drink made by Maja to continue her love spell.

Mark is on edge because he disrespected the burial ground of the Härga, but is distracted by an attractive maiden who says she wants to show him something, taking him away from the group. 

Bothered by Christain plagiarizing his thesis, Josh sneaks out of the barn while everyone is sleeping to take photos of the Rubi Radr, which goes against the wishes of the Härga. Ultimately, Josh is found by a Härga who is wearing Mark’s skin and is killed. 

The next morning, the Härga leaders announce that Josh, Mark, and the Rubi Radr are missing. Christian is commanded to go see the Härga elder, Siv (Gunnel Fred), and Dani is instructed to join the ceremonial festivities. Dani dances in the May Queen competition while hallucinating on psychedelic mushroom tea as Christian is told by Siv that he is a good match for Maja, who wants to mate with him. Christian joins the spectators to watch the May Queen competition and drinks mushroom tea. 

Midsommar Ending Explained

Christian watches from a distance as the commune gathers around to celebrate Dani for becoming the May Queen, and the drugs further distort Dani’s vision. After the feast, Dani is told to bless the crops while Christian is led to a building, drugged again, and has sex with Maja as the women of the commune watch and moan in unison with Maja. 

Dani hears them when she gets back and discovers Christian having sex with Maja, which causes her to break down. The other women of the village tend to her and begin to cry with her, acknowledging and validating her emotional pain. 

Understandably afraid after a moment of clarity, Christian runs outside and slowly discovers the corpses of the outsiders he arrived with. Christian is drugged again, waking up to find that he can’t speak or move.

Dani is asked to choose the ninth sacrifice—a randomly-selected Härga or her paralyzed, drugged, cheating boyfriend. Dani chooses Christian, and he is placed in a gutted bear, then burned with the other sacrifices in the temple. The commune and Dani watch as the temple burns. The Härga people screaming is supposed to show empathy for those burning alive inside the temple, and Dani watches, first horrified, and then she laughs.

A smile breaks across her face as Aster describes in the  screenplay , "She... surrendered to a joy known only by the insane. She has lost herself completely, and she is finally free. It is horrible and it is beautiful." 

Midsommar Ending Explained

While Dani’s final expression can give us the impression that she has newfound happiness in her chosen family, the movie doesn’t shy away from showing us how the cult can manipulate and easily exploit those who are emotionally vulnerable. 

In an interview with  Let The Festivities Begin: Manifesting Midsommar ,  Aster said, “By the end, I guess I hope that people will feel moved and unsettled and confused.” The film lives up to Aster's hope, leaving us to decipher this specific feeling. 

The Härga have their system of being, and while we, as viewers, might not always agree with the morality of their traditions and can see the faults in them, the Härga people have justified them, giving their actions a higher purpose that isn’t blatantly obvious at first. But that is what cults do. 

Cults can be founded on ideas that are pure and simplistic, but the actions can lead to fearful events for the victims. When the fear rises, the leaders of the cult remind those who are fearful that what they are doing is the right thing and helps the group work toward a good cause.

Midsommar Ending Explained

Aster manipulates the viewer into seeing the cult’s actions as beautiful and justified, keeping most of the horrors off-screen and asking us to look at the blinding beauty of the commune.  

The Härga people reveal their true intentions throughout the film, but it's most clear when Dani, as the May Queen, has to pick the last sacrifice to conclude the festival—a random villager or her drugged ex-boyfriend.

Dani, who is an emotional mess at this point, chooses Christian because of very obvious reasons, but the Härga people place her in a position to condemn someone, familiar or unknown, to death for a summer festival that she has been manipulated into celebrating. 

While this works thematically for Aster’s desire for a perverse break-up film, this moment is morally inexcusable. Aster is hyper-aware of this as the scene immediately cuts to the bloated corpse of Connie, reminding us that this cult has killed innocent people. This scene is not a “girl power” move, because the Härga people have complete control over the situation. 

In the end, Dani is a victim of the cult. While she might feel some form of liberation, she is still trapped in a cult that will exploit her emotional trauma for their advantage.

Midsommar Ending Explained

Folk horror  is a horror genre that has been thriving recently. If you are unfamiliar with the term, let me break it down for you. 

Unlike most of the horror genre, which focuses on the horrors of people and urban life, folk horror finds its roots in rural life. It is difficult to convey the form that specifically makes a horror film a folk horror, but the emphasis on the evil that has seeped into the soil, the terror of the hidden or forgotten lands, and the unsettling force of nature over man. 

MIdsommar  is a quintessential modern folk horror film. 

Aster emphasizes the unsettling nature of the land and the commune by disorienting the viewers with bright colors, blinding white costumes that are only broken by the clothing of the outsiders, and the low humming of the  audiovisuals . Even the bright yellow temple radiates a fraudulent cheerfulness that immediately sends a shiver down everyone’s spine. The cheerful nature of the commune is broken by the stark contrast of blood from the elders, revealing that something darker lives beneath the surface. 

Midsommar ’s use of land isolates many viewers who are far removed from a rural lifestyle. It’s an otherworldliness that keeps the viewers just at the edge of fully understanding how the world of the film functions, requiring the weather to fully immerse themselves into the film for the entirety of its runtime. 

The viewer sympathizes with Dani from the beginning to the end, often losing themselves in the spectacle of what is happening rather than realizing the moral implications of the cult’s actions. One of the ways this is done is through the murals presented throughout the film.

Midsommar Ending Explained

Production designer Henrik Svensson told  Polygon  in an interview, “All of the events seen throughout the film have happened many times before—at least every 90 years—and the murals are the Härga’s way of documenting this since none of the participants can be a part of this twice.” 

Observant viewers might have expected certain moments of the film due to the Härga people communicating what is about to unfold through a series of paintings that preserve the traditions they’re carrying out. 

“These murals," Svensson says, “are like a cartoon version of the script, twisted as we imagined the time would do to these rituals.” 

A keen audience member could easily get spoiled in the film's first moments, but the murals in Midsommar still function well within the film.

“I think Sweden has a rich tradition of painting walls, usually they’ll reference everyday life—people harvesting the ground, and there’s a lot of Christianity as well,” Ragnar Persson, the Swedish artist who produced illustrations to fit the film’s rich mythology, said in an interview with  Dazed  magazine . 

Many of Persson’s artwork uses blood and fire as “symbol[s] of connecting with nature.” He explains this idea further by discussing a scene that was cut from the final edit of the film. 

“There was another scene where they have a ritual to see how far the harvest is going to go, so they blindfold [or remove the eyes of] two people who are walking backwards along the barn, and if the fire’s lit, it’s going to be a good year for the harvest. But if it’s out, it’s going to be a bad year,” Persson said. 

Fire becomes a large motif throughout the story as well. As it engulfs Dani’s painful past, allowing her to be reborn, Persson understands the motif of fire as something that is always burning. “Maybe it’s society as a whole, like if they don’t take care of it, it’ll go out. It’s a community and you have to keep feeding it so that it carries on burning.” 

Midsommar Ending Explained

In the end, Dani smiles at the memory of her past being set aflame, and we can’t help but relate to the cathartic moment. Why?

We shouldn’t feel pressured to feel as if the perspectives presented are entirely right or wrong. The film wants us to live in the ambiguity of it.  Midsommar  is cathartic because the commune constantly emotionally validates someone who doesn't have any support. 

Movies are machines that generate empathy , and  Midsommar  is masterful at how it forces us to empathize with Dani from the start. She is isolated from her partner, has very few friends, and has no family. We want to be there for her, supporting the choices that will help her heal from the traumatic opening scene. 

Midsommar Ending Explained

When we get to the end, we can’t help but feel relief for Dani because she has found people who can validate her in a way we can’t. There’s just one issue… Dani and the viewers are being emotionally manipulated by the Härga.  

The ending is complicated simply because the viewers’ wants are satisfied—Dani is happy, her bad boyfriend is gone, and she is surrounded by people who accept her—but when the situation is looked at from a wider perspective, the fear creeps in. Is this what we wanted? 

It’s hard to say because Aster wanted the experience to be blurry. There are no solid answers to any of our questions, and the viewer is supposed to feel unnerved by the end. That’s the beauty of horror. Terrible actions can be justified, but that doesn’t mean that they are morally correct—but who are we to say what is and isn’t morally correct?

Do you have a different perspective on the ending of  Midsommar ? Let us know your take in the comments below!       

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Great dissection, thank you.

July 27, 2022 at 3:45AM

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2019, Horror/Mystery & thriller, 2h 25m

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Ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling, Midsommar further proves writer-director Ari Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with. Read critic reviews

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  1. Midsommar Explained: Symbolism, Themes, and Easter Eggs

    Midsommar is Ari Aster's haunting folk horror film that stunned audiences in 2019. The movie follows a group of college students who travel

  2. Midsommar: the movie's twisted ending, explained (spoiler alert!)

    Midsommar, the new movie from Hereditary director Ari Aster, is not what you'd call a straightforward, lighthearted summer film.

  3. Film Analysis: Midsommar (2019) Explained

    We have already established that Ari Aster draws a lot from Swedish folklore, which is an obvious choice given the setting. And those elements

  4. 'Midsommar' explained: The filmmakers unpack the sex, rituals and

    A dark tale set mostly in the bright sunlight of a secluded Swedish village, the film tells the story of a young woman, Dani (Florence Pugh)

  5. Midsommar ending explained

    Midsommar is essentially a two-and-a-half-hour study of one woman's emotional journey towards emancipation from a toxic relationship. The film

  6. “Midsommar,” Reviewed: Ari Aster's Backward Horror Story of an

    “Midsommar” is the story of a group of American graduate students who are invited, or lured, by a Swedish friend to a remote summer festival

  7. Midsommar

    Midsommar has much to say about ritual, religion, and cultic sensibility, and much of the film's running time is spent showcasing the community's questionable

  8. 'Midsommar' Ending Explained—The Power of Empathy and

    Although Aster describes the horror film as “a breakup movie dressed in the clothes of a folk horror film” to Vulture, the film's meaning is

  9. Midsommar Analysis: The Secrets Hidden in Plain Sight

    In this Midsommar analysis, we're reveal the clues you missed the first time and how they added to the film's constant dread.

  10. Midsommar

    Audience Reviews for Midsommar ... Good attempt, but fails to leave a lasting impact. ... Ari Aster is on a roll. To be fair, Midsommar is only his second feature