After watching the movie, do you have more questions than answers? Let me help you find the hidden meaning behind Midsommar and also explain what the movie’s ending means.
Directed by Ari Asterer, Midsommar is a groundbreaking and unique horror film. Unlike other horror films, “Midsommar” does not frighten the viewer with darkness and gloomy figures. The film catches in a completely different way, it is imbued with a creepy and enchanting atmosphere of an ancient holiday, mysterious rituals and mysteries of a closed Swedish community.
What is the movie “Midsommar” about?
At first glance, the plot of the film may seem familiar and primitive: a group of friends go to a quiet mysterious place in order to explore local life and have fun, but everything turns into tragedy and horror. But when viewed, it becomes clear that “Midsommar” is a new and unlike anything story that tells us about religious rites and life inside a community cut off from the rest of the world, calm and quiet at first glance.
At the beginning of the film, we meet a young girl, Dani, who lost her entire family following the suicide of her mentally ill sister, who kills not only herself, but also Dani’s parents. A year after her loss, she embarks on a journey with her boyfriend Christian and his anthropologist friends. They travel to a gated community in Sweden with the goal of getting to know the traditions of the locals and learning about their customs in order to write their dissertation at the university. Once there, the guys get to the celebration of the main event of the year – the summer Midsommar.
The heroes are greeted with flowers, treats and smiles from the residents of the community. But already after the first rite it becomes clear that the traditions of the local inhabitants are not as harmless as it seemed before. During one of the rituals, two elders of the settlement are thrown off a cliff, after which they are finished off with a sledgehammer. This eerie sight becomes shocking for all who come. Immediately after this, a couple of newlyweds Simon and Connie, who wanted to get acquainted with the summer Midsommar and plunge into the life of the community, leave it. But, as it turns out later, the Old Believers take their lives.
The rest, despite their fear, decide to stay. Curiosity and the desire to know what is really going on within the community takes over. After a while, two more anthropologist friends Josh and Mark disappear under mysterious circumstances. Before that, one of them defiled the sacred tree of the community, and the second tried to photograph the most important books of the Old Believers for his research work.
Residents of the community brutally kill outsiders for their curiosity and non-compliance with local rules. After the loss of four friends already, it becomes clear to Christian and Dani that they are embroiled in something bigger and much more frightening than the usual celebration of the summer Midsommar.
“Midsommar” plot explained
The definition of “horror movie” does not fit “Solstice”. It’s more like an experiment by Ari Astaire. The director created a special picture, to understand which one should plunge deeper into the atmosphere full of contrasts, where the characters are in search of themselves.
The creators have to deceive the expectations of the audience. This is how they want to achieve complete immersion of the viewer in the events taking place on the screen.
Deception one: drama instead of horror
The action of the picture begins with the tragic events that occurred in the family of the main character Dani ( Florence Pugh ). Her parents die at the hands of a bipolar sister.
In addition, the girl herself commits suicide. Dani’s friend, Christian ( Jack Reynor ), is tired of their relationship, but is hesitant to leave his friend at such a difficult moment. Together with Christian’s friends, the couple goes on a trip to the Swedish village of Kharga, where they were invited by one of the guy’s comrades.
The local community has rather unusual orders. At first it is difficult to get used to them, and after that they begin to inspire fear in the heroes. Unwillingly, the guests take part in strange rituals dedicated to the day of the summer solstice.
The description of the film, as it were, pushes the viewer to the fact that he is waiting for an ordinary slasher. In such films, most often stupid young people go to some terrible place, where they say goodbye to life in turn.
The set of characters in the picture can also be called ordinary: a girl, a handsome man, a vulgar joker and an intellectual. Horror movie fans will certainly begin to speculate about who will be killed and how.
This is precisely the first deception. If it were a slasher, it would hardly be two and a half hours long. Too much time for this kind of horror.
So the audience will definitely get tired in anticipation of the next murder. In this tape, more attention should be paid to another topic – the state of the main character. Then everything will fall into place, and the viewer will feel the drama of the situation.
The lengthy introduction is another trick of the director. He wanted the audience to be imbued with the suffering of an orphaned girl overnight, so that they would understand how shaky and insincere the relationship of a young couple is. Just this moment is clearly seen in awkward dialogues, too long pauses, the desire to make excuses, etc. Perhaps this situation will seem very familiar to someone.
Once in the commune, Dani unexpectedly meets real sincere people. For them, there is no one’s own and someone else’s, they don’t even have a desire to appropriate something. They work together to bring up children. The most surprising thing for the girl was their attitude to the loss of loved ones.
During the film, the main character changes a lot. This moment can be called the main, but not the only driving force in the picture. Changes occur with each of the heroes, although they are all different, with their own shortcomings and plans for life.
In this respect, “Solstice” is similar to the “Antichrist” by the great Lars von Trier. In both paintings, the emphasis is on the fact that refusing to live in modern society, people are drawn to ancient sources. For them, such a life is simpler and closer than the orders and traditions that prevail in today’s society.
Deception two: beauty instead of darkness
The events of the film take place at night, in the dark. Unexplored, poorly distinguishable, and therefore terrifying creatures appear from the darkness. Ordinary perfectly visible monsters do not frighten the viewer so much.
In his first film, “Reincarnations”, Aster used more traditional moves to instill horror in the viewer. There are such scenes in this film, but there are very few of them, and they happen mainly at the beginning of the plot.
And then the director “remembers” that the picture is brighter with light. Thanks to the mutual understanding of the director and his constant cameraman Pavel Pogorzhelsky, the film was shot very beautifully, the views of nature simply capture with their freshness and pristineness.
The high-quality work of the operator and editors allowed the audience to observe very fast and imperceptible changes in locations. Some long scenes seem to be one frame.
It can be noted that in modern cinema it is difficult to find a more colorful and beautiful horror. Darkness almost does not appear, the entire film is accompanied by sunlight.
The inhabitants of Kharga make a pleasant impression. Their white clothes, bright faces and kind sincere smiles work for this. A lot of time in the film is devoted to ancient pagan rites, consisting of dances, common dinners and other pleasant things. The dark side shows the guests. Their clothes, looks, facial expressions, and especially their behavior create a gloomy atmosphere.
But in general, the picture still justifies its genre, although the director does not use any special techniques to make the audience horrified. Even the sound is almost always on the same level, and not as it happens in James Wan’s film The Conjuring. The sound environment is quiet and inviting. Sometimes, in order to immerse the viewer in the essence of what is happening, they show some not very pleasant physiological aspects.
Astaire did not want the viewer to scream and jump out of his chair in horror, it is more important that he feel uncomfortable, as if he himself were in these mysterious and therefore terrifying conditions of the community. Aster chose atonal violins, the constant crying of a baby somewhere in the background, the frightening behavior of some heroes as irritants for a person.
What scares the most in the film is the moment of expectation of something terrible, and not what is happening. By and large, the film is not about the result, but about the path to this result.
Deception three: people instead of monsters
On the posters for the film, which Russian viewers can see, it says: “The age-old darkness will awaken,” and in the trailers they show strange faces of flying people and magical rites.
Mysticism, as such, “Solstice” does not indulge. The main attention is paid to the way of ancient communities. It bears little resemblance to the Wicker Man movie, which shows adherents of the occult.
The director of the film tried to pay more attention to simple customs, the history of their occurrence, when they existed, and whether there are those who honor such traditions now. In fact, “Solstice” is a kind of excursion into psychology, when the behavior of people who bring themselves to self-forgetfulness with an ordinary dance or their ability to penetrate the feelings of another person is shown.
“Midsommar” ending explained
At the end of the film, Dani, who has become the Queen of May, chooses the ninth, ritual sacrifice. Many viewers could not understand why the heroine chose her lover. After all, she knew that Christian cheated on her under the influence of drugs.
In fact, in “Solstice” the meaning of the ending is explained quite simply. Christian was not able to properly support Dani after the death of her family. When trying to find understanding with her lover, the girl came across only indifference and malicious irritation.
Christian, at the time of the decision, in the eyes of the “Queen” who had practically lost her mind, embodied all the evil of the world. The ritual sacrifice became a catharsis for her – a kind of emotional release that allows her to free herself from pain and humiliation.
The symbolic meaning of the finale of “Solstice” becomes clear when, in the last frames of the film, the audience sees Dani smiling. Having killed the last person close to her, the heroine is freed from the past, gaining lightness and a new family.
Ari Aster’s film is like a pagan hymn calling for awakening and freedom, even if it seems scary and crazy. And only complete immersion in what is happening on the screen will help to understand the true meaning of Solstice 2019.