Ari Aster’s Midsommar, one of the best examples of recent horror cinema, in which he shared a nightmare set in daylight with moviegoers, requires 15 details that must be known!
Horror is perhaps one of the most talked about movie genres. Although fear is one of the easiest emotions to convey, many productions have been made throughout the history of cinema that lack story depth and have the sole purpose of eliciting screams from the audience. These productions have influenced the quality of horror cinema, while also causing cinema to move one step closer to becoming a mass production factory, departing from the aim of making art. However, while some films have taken the genre back, others have managed to elevate it.
In 2019, Midsommar, which took its place on the silver screen, directed by Ari Aster, pushed the boundaries of horror cinema with its unusual location choices and storytelling techniques. The production, which was praised by critics, entered the list of admired films with its bright atmosphere and references in the story cycle. The production, which deals with rituals in Scandinavian culture, also managed to attract attention with its symbolic storytelling that is not immediately understood at first glance.
Ari Aster, who made a strong entrance into the cinema industry with his first feature film, Hereditary, presented to the audience in 2018, also met the expectations of his fans with his second film, Midsommar. We have compiled 15 details that must be known about Midsommar, which we still cannot shake off.
From symbolic elements to mythological references, from sources of inspiration to director’s editing, you can find the list of 15 details that must be known about Midsommar that we have compiled below.
Before its release, Midsommar faced a barrier. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) deemed the film unsuitable for viewers under 17 and gave it an NC-17 rating, which meant that even with parental accompaniment, those under 17 could not watch the film. In response, Ari Aster cut about 30 minutes from the film to lower the rating to an R. This allowed viewers under 17 to watch the film in theaters with their parents or guardians.
Shortly after the film’s initial release, a director’s cut was released, and the removed scenes were added back into the film. The most noticeable difference between the director’s cut and the theatrical version was the inclusion of more graphic violence and gore. Additionally, while the theatrical version only had three scenes set at night, the director’s cut added more.
The Ättestupa ritual is actually a legend. The story of elderly individuals sacrificing themselves for the prosperity of their village comes from a 13th-century Icelandic legend called Gautreks Saga. Historians from the 18th and 19th centuries are the only ones who mention the practice of Ättestupa in Scandinavia without providing any actual evidence. Many competent historians believe that this legend was an attempt to depict Sweden as barbaric because they converted to Christianity a hundred years after Iceland. When the film was released in Sweden, it did not scare viewers, but instead made them laugh. Swedish film critics praised the film as a perfect dark comedy.
Ari Aster’s Visual Inspirations
Aster drew inspiration for his folk horror film from several different works. His main sources were the 1947 film Black Narcissus, the 2013 film Hard to Be a God, the 1971 film The Tragedy of Macbeth, and the 1979 film Tess.
Mark’s Bug Phobia
Throughout the film, Mark exhibits an extreme fear of bugs. This character trait is based on Ari Aster’s real-life bug phobia. Like Mark, Aster wears two pairs of socks to avoid bug bites.
The Number 9
The number 9 holds a significant importance for the Midsommar ritual and the film itself. The ritual takes nine days to complete, during which nine people are sacrificed for the purification of the village. Additionally, the life cycle of the Hårga people revolves around the number 9. Childhood at 18, youth at 36, maturity at 54, and life ends at 72. Furthermore, the festival is held every 90 years, and it is assumed that each sacrificed person protects the people of Hårga for 10 years. Even the name of the festival, Midsommar, consists of nine letters. The importance of the number 9 comes from Odin, the father of all Nordic gods, who spent nine days hanging upside down in the Yggdrasil tree to create the Futhark language and bring knowledge to the world.
Functionalization of Background
Another feature that makes Midsommar worth watching is the use of the background. Although not noticeable at first glance, the background actions that attack our subconscious not only deepen the story but also provide serious clues about the film to the audience. The actions that Ari Aster wrote in different scenes in the screenplay are played in the background in a single scene. You can watch the analysis of an impressive scene where Aster placed 10 different actions in the background of a single scene and left clues to the audience through these actions here.
Concept Products Sold
The production company of Midsommar, A24, released many products that fans can use to decorate their shelves. First, they published a book containing ritual drawings featured in the film. The 62-page book’s foreword was written by master director Martin Scorsese. The illustrations in the book were drawn by Ragnar Persson, who prepared the pictures in Midsommar, and an unusual film product was presented. Then, in order to overcome the economic problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the production company A24 decided to organize an auction event, and the floral dress worn by Florence Pugh’s character, Dani, was put up for sale. All these items generated a considerable income. An income of approximately $100,000 was obtained from the items in the film, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences paid $65,000 for the flower dress worn by Florence Pugh in the film.
Belief Inspiring Dance Ritual
Midsommar shares similar sources of inspiration with The Wicker Man, one of its inspirations. While cults and rituals in Celtic culture were the source of inspiration in The Wicker Man, Midsommar also incorporates the rituals of ancient communities in the Scandinavian region into its story. It is known that in the past, there were communities in Scandinavia that offered people as sacrifices to have a better harvest or to please the gods. On the other hand, the Hårga region where the film takes place is at the center of some myths that inspired the rituals we see in the film. There is a belief that one day, the devil came to Hårga and played his flute, and the people danced until they fell and died with the music. The inspiration for the scene where the young girls dance until they fall in the film also comes from this belief.
Dani and Plants
Throughout the film, Dani sees hallucinations of plant life interacting with her. This foreshadows Dani’s ultimate decision to join the community at the end of the film. Additionally, Dani’s interaction with plants becomes more pronounced as the film progresses. In the beginning of the film, grass grows towards Dani’s hand, and later on, a flower on her crown synchronizes its breathing with her heartbeat, showing Dani’s harmony within the community. In the final scene, Dani’s clothing and crown made entirely of plants symbolize her complete integration into the community.
The Color of Christian’s Drink
During the dinner scene where meat pies are served, Christian’s drink appears slightly different from the others. While everyone else is drinking a yellow beverage, Christian’s drink is redder. This hints at the possibility that, as mentioned later in the film, Christian’s drink may have been spiked with menstrual blood as part of a binding ritual.
References to the Ending
While waiting to talk to Siv, Christian examines a wallpaper with a burning bear on it. This symbolizes Christian’s ultimate fate of being burned alive in a bear suit. Earlier in the film, Simon sees a group of children playing and asks Pelle what they’re playing. Pelle replies that they’re playing a game called “Skin the Fool.” This game foreshadows Mark’s skin being peeled off as a sacrifice at the end of the film. Some objects in Dani’s house also provide clues about the film, such as a painting on the wall showing a bear and a crowned woman.
The Wicker Man Effect
When Christian is being prepared for sacrifice, he is stuffed inside a bear suit, which bears similarities to a scene in the 2006 film “The Wicker Man,” starring Nicolas Cage. This film is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name, which is considered the foundation of films centered around pagan cults that sacrifice humans, including “Midsommar.”
The Reason for Christian Being Naked
Normally, it was expected that after the sex scene, Christian would come out wearing the robe he had on when he went in. However, Jack Reynor, who played Christian, suggested that coming out completely naked would make him more vulnerable. With Ari Aster’s approval, the scene was changed. Reynor was inspired by the movie “The Last House on the Left,” where female characters are often left vulnerable, humiliated, or attacked before they die. Reynor felt that male characters should also experience similar humiliations, and he came up with this great suggestion.
In the scene where Josh sneaks into the temple to take a photo of the holy book called Rubi Radr, he thinks he sees Mark waiting for him outside the door. But as the script confirms, the person he sees is Ulf, who is wearing Mark’s skin. Earlier in the film, Ulf scolded Mark for peeing on the tree, and Josh asked Ulf if he would kill Mark for it. Although it is not shown on screen, Mark’s fate is revealed to be just that.
The mural shown at the beginning of the film contains references to the events that will happen in the film and foreshadows the fate of Dani and Christian. When the mural is examined from right to left, the reason for Pelle inviting his friends to Hårga is revealed. When the visitors arrive in the village, Connie and Simon examine a picture of a woman placing flowers under the pillow of the man she loves and putting pubic hair in his food, which shows that the man also loves the woman. This serves as a precursor to what Maja will do to Christian in the film. At the end of the film, Dani’s smile bears a striking resemblance to the sun’s smile in the mural at the beginning of the film.
Last modified: November 11, 2023