The Ending Of ‘Midsommar’ Explained | Pop Culture Decoded

The Ending Of ‘Midsommar’ Explained | Pop Culture Decoded

[Narrator] “Midsommar” is a horror movie about a Swedish festival
gone very, very wrong. The film was written and
directed by Ari Aster, the man behind 2018’s “Hereditary.” This follow-up is equally
disturbing and just as baffling. Here are all of the symbols
and hidden references in the movie, and how they
relate to its shocking ending. Warning: Spoilers ahead. First of all, while “Midsommar” quickly turns into a cultish nightmare, the movie is ultimately about
the end of a relationship between the two main
characters, Dani and Christian. Ari Aster was recovering
from a breakup of his own while he was developing the film, and that experience influenced his writing of the characters, in particular Dani. He was also inspired by romantic films, like 1973’s “Scenes From a Marriage” and 1981’s “Modern Romance.” Robert: I don’t think that
we should go out anymore. [Narrator] As for his horror influences, there’s a clear reference to “The Shining” in this overhead shot of the journey. Early in the movie, the
paintings on the walls of the apartments hint
toward the ending of the film and the very messy breakup we witness. In Christian’s apartment,
we see a painting by Brooklyn-based artist Mu Pan. The work is part of a series
called “Dinoassholes,” a title that seems very appropriate for Christian’s character, given his callous treatment of Dani. Also visible is this work by
Swedish artist John Bauer. It depicts a little girl in
a crown facing a large bear. This painting directly
alludes to the movie’s ending, when Christian is placed
inside a bear carcass and set on fire. Dani watches him burn while
wearing a crown of flowers. Later, in Siv’s house, Christian also sees an image on the wall of a bear being burned alive, further foreshadowing his untimely death. Simon: So we’re just going
to ignore the bear then? Ingemar: It’s a bear. [Narrator] Aster compared the sacrificial burning of the temple to the burning of a box
of an ex’s personal items as a sort of catharsis post-breakup, only, of course, far more extreme. The sacrificial burning at the end also calls back the ending
of “The Wicker Man,” in which the outsider main character is placed in a wooden
statue and set afire. Aster and his team spent months researching Scandinavian
and Germanic folklore and scattered Easter
eggs throughout the film, which also hint at the culmination of Dani and Christian’s relationship, major plot points, and other characters’ deaths. One of the most important
set pieces, the bunkhouse, exemplifies this attention to detail. The inner walls are
covered in elaborate murals painted by artist Ragnar Persson
and based on medieval art. If you look closely, these images actually
reveal much of the plot. Basically, the bunkhouse
fulfills the same function as the dollhouse did in “Hereditary,” illustrating much of the story
before it actually happens. For example, above one of the beds we see an illustration
of two people having sex, surrounded by onlookers. This clearly refers to the mating ritual Christian is later lured
into to impregnate Maja. This scene is also hinted at when the boys are eating
earlier in the film and discussing all of the Swedish girls they plan on impregnating during the trip. Another illustration shows people cutting their hands as a sacrifice. Soon after, we see the
old couple cut their palms atop the cliff, right before
they jump to their deaths. Also covering the walls are many runes, an ancient language that features heavily throughout the film. At one point, the characters
refer to the runes as Elder Futhark and Younger Futhark, two evolutions of the
same system of language. Looking at the meanings
of some of these symbols, we can try to piece together
why Aster chose them in certain parts of the movie. He assigned each character a rune, which we can see clearly on their robes. Dani has an R rune on her dress, which symbolizes a ride or a journey. This likely refers to her
own journey of finally coming to terms with the
truth about her relationship. The hourglass-shaped rune next it symbolizes day or an awakening. This likely refers to Dani’s
breakthrough about Christian, a moment of clarity for her. Dani’s character also
experiences a slow reawakening throughout the festival. The first sign of her rebirth is when she wakes up from her nap and suddenly her skin appears
golden and almost glittery. Meanwhile, Christian’s
robe has an up-arrow rune, which could reference
either the male symbol or a willingness to self-sacrifice, ironically, a quality he does not have. The first bloody sacrifice we witness is that of two senior
members of the community who throw themselves off a cliff. This tradition is called ättestupa. It’s based off of Nordic
legends in which people would commit ritual suicide when they grew too old to care
for themselves any longer. When the man and woman
rub their bloody hands on the rune stones, the two symbols that appear are the R from Dani’s robe and the up arrow from Christian’s robe. The shape of the dining
table is also significant. This rune symbolizes tradition, the passing down of rituals and rites. If you look closely at the
sunlike entrance to the village, you’ll see the same
shape, but upside-down. The X inside the sacred
temple can mean gift, which makes sense, as
the community is planning on gifting nine souls to the gods. Beyond the bunkhouse murals, there’s a tapestry in the open field that also foretells parts of the plot. It depicts a bizarre love story in which a girl puts her
menstrual blood and pubic hair in a boy’s food and drink to
make him fall in love with her. This is exactly what
Maja does to Christian. You can see here that his drink
is darker than the others, with a reddish tint. And he pulls a pubic hair out of his mouth after taking a bite of the pie. While the most horrific events
in the film are fictitious, the holiday and many of
its rituals are very real. Midsummer is an annual event
that takes place in mid-June, around the summer solstice. It’s popular across the globe,
particularly in Scandinavia. And it’s even depicted briefly
in the Disney movie “Frozen.” Midsummer was initially a pagan holiday, but it eventually merged
with the Christian feast day of St. John the Baptist, a celebration of the prophet’s birth. Indeed, there are several
references to John the Baptist in the film. Pelle tells Dani that the
festival lasts nine days and that the event is special because it only occurs every 90 years. In the Bible, the Virgin Mary stayed with John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, for 90 days before Elizabeth gave birth. Then, when they get to the
field outside the village, Ingemar wishes Pelle a
happy St. John’s in Swedish. One of the flowers that covers the village is St. John’s wort. It’s customary to celebrate
St. John’s Day with bonfires, like the one that burned
the sacrifices alive in the final scene, and with torches, like those
that the villagers carry throughout the film. One of the key components of
“Midsommar” is the maypole, which we see in the film
covered in flowers and greenery for good luck. The ritual in which the villagers
dance around the maypole is based in a real-life Midsummer custom, one that revolves around
procreation and fertility. So it makes sense that
Christian’s bizarre sex ritual is a major part of what comes next. The community makes way for new life by making a lot of bloody sacrifices. Let’s start with what happened to Josh. When he goes to bed on his last night, he’s already set on sneaking into the barn to photograph the holy book. The camera lingers on his shoes as he pulls the blanket over his body. The shot of his sneakers
may be referencing the mass suicide of the
Heaven’s Gate cult in 1997, when 39 cult members were
found dead on their bunk beds, having taken a powerful sedative and covered themselves in purple sheets. As an anthropology student, Josh is obsessed with northern
European pagan traditions, to the extent where he’s fully
embraced this cult in Sweden. His ambition and academic passion is ultimately what brings his demise. In the barn, Josh is attacked by Ulf, the same man who got angry at Mark for peeing on the ancestral tree. The most disturbing part: Ulf
is now wearing Mark’s face. Later, we see the skin of Mark’s face placed on a straw dummy and
topped off with a jester’s hat. This cruel fate is foreshadowed
earlier in the movie. Simon: What are they playing?
Ingemar: Skin the Fool. [Narrator] In retrospect,
this bit of foreshadowing makes sense, as Mark pretty neatly fit the comedic archetype of the fool. An even greater horror is done to Simon, the Londoner who mysteriously disappeared without his fiancée, Connie. Christian stumbles on Simon tied face-down in the chicken coop, with his back sliced open
and liver and ribs exposed. As we look closer, we see
that his lungs are moving, indicating that Simon is still alive. If you’re wondering how anyone could come up with this stuff, it turns out Aster did months of research on Viking torture techniques. What Simon’s subjected to is right in line with the “blood eagle” method
of execution by torture, a prolonged type of ritual killing detailed in Norse poetry. So why have such brutal Viking rituals survived in this insular community? And what does it all mean? To get an idea, we should look to Ruben, the so-called oracle in the community. As an elder in the village explains, Ruben was purposely inbred
to serve as a conduit for the word of the gods. The boy is said to have unclouded judgment as a result of his condition
and his pure blood. Towards the end of the movie, he’s shown sitting on a
seat covered in cotton, looking almost like
he’s sitting on a cloud. In Aster’s words, Ruben embodies the political message of the film, which is perhaps partly
critiquing the global rise of xenophobia and the return
of the far right in Sweden. As Aster said in an interview, “If you consider Swedish history, it is a very closed society. And what does that really mean? There are things happening
in Sweden right now that are echoes of things that happened in the Second World War.” OK, now back to the ending of the film. It seems that the burning
of the sacred temple was part of Pelle’s plan
from the very beginning. One theory: While Dani’s family seemed to die in a murder-suicide, what if it was actually a setup? Next to her parents’ bed
was a crown of flowers, and there are similar yellow flowers on their wallpaper too, a mysterious bit of foreshadowing. What if, say, Pelle killed Dani’s family to trigger the series of events that led her to the festival? He does emphasize that he
was most looking forward to Dani coming along on the
trip, more than anyone else. Whether or not Dani was chosen by Pelle, there are some other
hints that she was always a perfect candidate for May Queen. One is her birthday,
which Pelle is well aware coincides with the
beginning of the festival. Dani’s in her mid-20s, which
is significant because, as Pelle explains, his community thinks of one’s
life in terms of seasons. The first 16 years of life
are equivalent to one season, spring. Dani is midway through
the next season, summer, so literally midsummer. Regardless of the impetus
for Dani’s journey, the movie comes full
tragic circle by the end, beginning with the deaths of her family and ending with the death of Christian. As Aster says, “You start
with the unfathomable, and you end with the unfathomable.” So did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

Comments (64)

  1. Blood Eagle ritual is a myth… Same with Ættestup. But it makes for good stories

  2. What does lil uzi’s external atake cover doing there 8:04

  3. I thought their lives were split into 18 year segments not 16??

  4. This movie was awesome

  5. Re: the women with the deep red clothing accents in the final scene where Christian is in the wheelchair. Maja being one of them. Because she’s been impregnated. There’s another woman, I’m pretty sure the one who lured Mark away, who also is wearing deep red accents, but she’s also beaten up! Bruises and scrapes on her face. Does this mean she slept with Mark, and then in the process of killing/skinning him, she was injured? Did no one else see this?

  6. You mentioned the age cycles incorrectly.

  7. I had this sensation throughout the film… that Dani is like the embodiment of some scandinavian old pagan goddess… and that pelle 'recognise' her

  8. The way way you describe the runes are so messed up that you don't even know from which religion they come from,they are the ancient symbols of the Norse. As for the director he is using runes for his meaninglessness film. That "up arrow" rune is Teiwaz

  9. "The R" symbols actually raido means the journey am i right?

  10. What happened to Simon's wife? Did the cult kill her or made her a sacrifice?

  11. I had sunflower seeds for dinner and pooped a sunflower in the morning. Am I God?

  12. In the manner of the franchise mashup Alien vs. Predator, I'd like to see a "Sacrifice Off" – MidSommar cult vs. Paimon cult. Odds even I reckon.

  13. What's about all the mind altering substances and the psychedelia?
    Seems like crucial part, especially in the rituals and in the community in general

  14. Any significance to his name being Christian?

  15. The “make him drink menstruated blood” is a folk belief in SE Asia as well.

  16. This movie was super unrealistic and dumb or the characters were dumb? Culture or not soon as i saw gramps and granny jump from a cliff i would have convinced all my friends we're leaving not now but right now!! No way am i staying to do a fuckin thesis!!!

  17. These symbols you mentioned are less complicated than you imagined. They are called Runes, and is basically the viking alphabet.

  18. so this movie is essentially about white people, and how sick minded, demented, and perverted they are.

  19. when i was watching the film, i felt like the girls in the dance competition let Dani to win so she can be May Queen.Anyone else felt same way ?Because all festival was like set up for her

  20. Yea the beginning of the movie depicts a painting of all future events

  21. This review sure seems to take aim at Christian no wonder a female is narrating it. All Christian ever did was sacrifice his own happiness to take care of his emotionally needy girlfriend he wanted to break up with then stuck with because of what happened to her family. She was super clingly to him. That scene when he just wanted to leave the apartment but she kept begging him to stay was a good representation of their relationship. It's not like he wanted to cheat on her he was faithful to her what he wanted was to get out of a relationship he had no interests in because Dani had too many issues. It took him being drugged out his mind to sleep with that chick he had no interests in. It was a literally like the male version of being drugged and raped except the entire commune was in on it. Chris's biggest downfall was caring too much and not telling Dani that it was over. Women always play the guilty emotional card when a man wants to leave them.

  22. Science of cocokologi. Thnk you. Good explanation. Wahaha

  23. Whatever happened to the English chick? Clearly we all heard her getting killed, but we never saw her body… was she sacrificed or just killed off?

  24. I ain’t going Sweden!

  25. a stupid dumb movie, I wish I could erase it from my brain memory

  26. Seeing her parents

  27. Pretentious garbage.

  28. Maybe they have a sacrificial festival every year, but the 90 year part alludes to the bringing in of an outsider, new blood, to mix with them as mentioned in the film. The festival would then be a special once in a lifetime one.
    If that is the case, the photos of previous queens would make sense and Pelle mentioning that his parents dying in a fire too. They were probably sacrificed in a festival when he was young, that would make sense too.

  29. Where can I watch this

  30. I don't know what to comment so I'll just comment this.

  31. It was a really good movie, the main female character really got on my nerves half way thru… When they burned the guy in a bear suit I even felt reliefed…

  32. This is CLICKBAIT, it is NOT the "full movie" at all!!! Lying bastard.

  33. What kind of sadistic diabolical disturbing shit I just watched?😳
    I am gonna go watch Spongebob . It's the only way to cleanse my brain now.

  34. you missed why she was smiling

  35. Why did Dani smile at the end when her boyfriend Christien burning ?

  36. I wish I never watched this

  37. I'm so glad I didn't watch this trash.

  38. I noticed, in the beginning when it shows Dani's parents dead in their bed you can see a picture of Dani on the nightstand and a vase of flowers behind her and it looks like a crown on top of Dani's head.

  39. Super cool insider ❤❤❤ thanks

  40. I need to watch it again but also feel like it's too much horror to bear again

  41. Black guy in Scandinavia……not much foreshadowing needed🤦🏿‍♂️

  42. I would watch Midsommar part 2. After Dani became a queen she can make own rules.

  43. Problem is there was no black guy in that community to tell the black guy to "get out" so he dead now

  44. Send John Wick there and let's see what happens

  45. Hereditary was amazing but wasnt scary or shocking. Very predictable, this film actually followed similar tropes and was easy to decode. But it was more shocking than Hereditary. This film resembles the serpent and the rainbow.

  46. Summer is actually 17 to 36, not 32.

  47. The cult experiences everything as a group. They share everything. When Dani was crying over having seen Christian have sex with Maja, the female cult members cried and wailed with her. It's shared grief/empathy… When Christian was "mating" with Maja, the female cult members shared in the "ecstacy"… Not too difficult to understand…

  48. I watched this movie a week ago and it’s still stuck in my mind. Such a good movie

  49. Nah, this game is trash. No explanation needed. Just like hereditary. And they still don't justify with this explanation.

  50. So the dude that invited the British couple was getting back at them for being friend zoned. Damn.

  51. 9 souls in 9 days and every 90 years. now spin the numbers backwards, what do you get? 666

  52. Settings Similar to: The Wicker Man (2006) Nicolas Cage.

  53. The ancestral tree seems to symbolize Yggdrasil – the world tree in Norse cosmology. The fact it's dead and overturned could symbolize the death of Norse culture as it was supplanted by Christianity. The ritual of scattering the ashes around the tree may be an allusion to the community clinging to their old ways. Also note how the character named Christian is seen as the bear by the pagans – the beast that must be cast away into the fire.

    I also like the mention of Surtr – the Burnt One. In Norse mythology he is a fire giant, a world destroyer that will inevitably kick start Ragnarok – the end of the world. Basically a very bad dude. But here he seems celebrated. There's allusions to fire all over the place, and the dance around the maypole is dedicated to his name. Perhaps the community feels that with the victory of Christianity over the Norse gods it's time to bring an end to this world…

    Finally, you missed an important clue in the runes on Dani's dress: the Raido (R) rune is reversed. In Norse beliefs reversing the rune foreshadows a negative outcome. In the case of Raido, it could mean being stuck, lost, forced to go somewhere against one's will, or… losing connection to someone important.

  54. Why haven’t I ever heard of this movie and I’m Swedish

  55. Horrible, shitty movie.

  56. ok idk why im so curious abt this but why is the movie called midsommar? why can't it be called midsummer?

  57. A creepy and disturbing movie. I enjoyed it. 😏
    P.S.- They're heavily censoring the comments on youtube. I've had a lot of comments deleted. Apparantly certain P.O.V.s are not tolerated. Very totalitarian.

  58. what happened to connie?

  59. Are we not gonna talk ab how there was a mf leg just chilling in the ground when christian was running away

  60. 'Meh' movie. Some characters are dumb.

  61. I think you missed mentioning that awkward sex 🙄

  62. Στην μπουτσα μας

  63. This was the absolute worst movie I’ve ever had to watch. AND it was with my parents 💀

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