Midsommar (2019) is the second full-length film by Ari Astra, finally breaking the canons of horror. Almost all the action of the picture takes place on a meadow drenched in the sun, forcing one to be afraid not of darkness, but of a bright weather day. Also, according to the director, this film is not about pagans or ancient rituals, it is about the separation of a man and a woman. Such a synopsis, although it seems completely unreliable, is fully embodied on the screen, demonstrating the most unusual horror of recent times.
Below we will try to explain the meaning and ending of the film, as well as why the plot of Midsommar, according to Ari Astaer himself, should not be taken too literally.
The main character Dani loses her family. Her sister commits suicide, poisoning not only herself but her parents as well. A year later, the girl goes on summer vacation with her boyfriend and his anthropological friends. They are sent to Sweden, or rather to Horga, a small closed community whose inhabitants preach paganism. The goal of the heroes is to see the rite of celebration of the summer solstice.
At first, staying in the village seems sweet and completely safe, but this feeling lasts exactly until the first ritual.
Midsommar Plot Explanation
We have already said that Midsommar is an unusual film. And not only because it is horror in broad daylight, but also because an attentive viewer can predetermine its ending even during the opening credits and the first shots.
The fact is that Ari Aster decided not to focus on the standard canons of the narrative, and through the overture in the form of appearing title pictures, paintings in the house of the main character or pagan symbols, he told the story of Midsommar up to the burning of Christian in the skin of a bear. But why?
Firstly, these easter eggs, imperceptible from the first viewing, are easy to notice during the second, more detailed viewing of the film. But only if you want to watch Midsommar twice.
Secondly, and as mentioned above, one of the main themes of the Midsommar is a demonstration of the relationship between a man and a woman, against the background of which the orgy of Khorgi takes place. Moreover, this is the story of Dani’s emotional journey, which begins with the fact that the girl first loses her family and then finds it.
The meaning of the ending of Midsommar
At the end of the film, after a series of brutal murders of her off-screen friends, Dani takes part in a dance competition and becomes the queen of May. Christian, surrounded by a dozen singing naked women, copulates with Maya. Dani catches this moment and releases his accumulated grief, surrounded by a similar half-dozen girls, who seem to let her emotions through themselves, screaming and sobbing in time with the girl.
The demonstrated imitation, although it looks comical, is practiced in the most important and tense moments of the film: during the suicide of the elderly, copulation or ritual burning. Such an exchange of emotions allows you to share the emotional baggage of a person, whether it be joy, pain or pleasure with all those present, to achieve the so-called catharsis – purification in the process of empathy.
The next day, as the culmination of the summer solstice celebration, the inhabitants of Khorgi sacrifice nine human lives. Four of our own and four outsiders (Simon, Connie, Josh and Mark), killed, like the old people, in advance. The ninth must be chosen by the Queen of May. Dani points to Christian, who is dressed in the skin of a bear and burned along with all the victims of the holiday. At the end of the film, she smiles.
Christine’s ritual sacrifice is the above-mentioned catharsis, both for the Horghi community and for Dani herself. At the beginning of the film, the girl looked lonely and abandoned, but at the end she found understanding and a family. Burned in the skin of a bear, Christian represents a symbolic banishment of evil for Horghi, and the expulsion of pain and suffering for Dani, who, throughout their relationship, was never able to find support and understanding, bumping into only indifference and anger.
The meaning of the film Midsommar
According to director Ari Aster, Midsommar is a film about parting and getting rid of toxic relationships. It is also a folk horror film about foreigners who visit a closed pagan village and begin to disappear during strange rituals. But most likely “Solstice” is a tale about an orphan who is destined to become a queen and find a new family. Sounds logical, but not in the context of a movie that burns people alive, drinks urine, and eats pubic hair.
But let’s start in order. The above-mentioned signs and prophecies in the form of drawings, symbols and even plants suggest the idea of a fabulous foundation. For example, in Dani’s apartment, two paintings hang on either side of her couch: one from a series of moons (apparently indicating the passage and cycle of time), and the other depicting a woman running over corpses.
There are a lot of summer plants growing in the apartment itself, contrasting sharply with the snowy landscape outside. Above the girl’s bed hangs a painting by the Swedish artist Jon Bauer “Poor Little Bear!” – an illustration to Helen Nybloom’s fairy tale about a sensual but innocent girl strolling through the woods. In this picture, she meets a bear, kisses him on the nose and calls him a poor little bear.
Such signs, meaning nothing at first viewing, are a direct allusion to the prophecy, which, like in a fairy tale, tends to come true.
But the most unambiguous proof of the film’s fairytale subtext is the above-mentioned title pictures, which look like illustrations for a children’s fairy tale.