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.

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100 thoughts on “The Ending Of ‘Midsommar’ Explained | Pop Culture Decoded”

  • wrong answer for the R meaning as we go along with the movie the part that the older lad shows josh the maning of the symbols in the book R stands for GRIEF . which is what dani is going through.

  • So he def spilled the beans in the movie …this is real life in movie form. I enjoyed it tho but it's so creepy how true it is

  • The age part is completely wrong! 
    It's 0-18 spring, 18-36 summer, 36-54 autumn and 54-72…
    Anyway can't explain a movie if you got your point wrong

  • Wait, people actually think Christian was mistreating her? What is wrong with everybody? Christian was actually roofied in the movie. He was raped. He stayed with Danny when he should have just left her. What in the hell? And he most certainly did have a willing to self sacrifice. He stayed with her when she was going through the hardest time in her life when he wanted to break up with her. That's literally a sacrifice that's the definition. You do something you don't want to do for the benefit of someone else. He didn't come off happier. This movie sucked. At least the Wicker man left off with him singing Christian hymns in defiance. this movie just makes me want to put on a put on a breastplate and re-establish the Knights Templar.

  • 1:) these are 5 college students who went to Sweden. I’m sure they had friends and family they told that they were going. And what happens when they don’t return home. You have 5 missing people and 5 families who would be worried sick and most likely work together to find out what happened. They would most likely make national news for their disappearance.

    2) Pele knew what was going to happen all along. So he literally sat in the college dorm around his friends knowing his friends would be sacrificed, not even thinking of the consequences or their families.

    3) what would happen if all the guests behaved themselves. For example, what if Connie and her bf and the others never freaked out during the suicide. What if everyone just stood and behaved themselves accordingly, would they still have been sacrificed?

    3) during the movie, you hear a scream in the distance. Dani, mark, and Christian look up to the sound but don’t know where it came from. Who screamed?

    4) how did Connie and mark die? They never showed their deaths.

  • There's a scene where dani is on the way to become the may queen. She was surround by the crowd, and suddenly saw her mom ?

  • Sweden is being destroyed by 3rd world rapists, and the jew director of this crap is trying to criticize anyone who opposes that? Meanwhile Israel is the most xenophobic place on the planet.

  • 2 questions:
    Why does she go from horrified to smiling like a sociopath in the end?
    And with all the drugs being taken, was this all just a bad trip? (Think “American Psycho”

  • 1:15 So Christian, who stayed with the girl he didn't want to be with, because of her family situation and her mental health, is the asshole? Why does society expect men to act like sponges for women's baggage?

  • The movie is boring & stupid. An insult to Western European culture. As for what it meant: believe me, you won't care.

  • When the moment comes for Dani to make her decision on who will be the 9th sacrifice, the man in charge of mediating her decision refers to the sacrificed people as "operators".

    Maybe this went unnoticed, but it felt like another reference to cults like Heavens Gate which refered to those who had self sacrificed as "operators" as well.

  • putting pubic hair and period blood is also part of malay black magic ritual to make men obey the women. we called it nasi (rice) kangkang (spreading legs)

  • I have been thinkin about the death of Pelles parents. How he told dani about their death and that it happened in a fire. Wich could refer to the last sacrifice in the last scene. What im trying to say here is That when the previous celebration occured, his parents was possibly two volunteering cultists being willing to sacrifice themselves in the burning temple. But i dont know just a thought. They said the event takes place every 90 years right? So it would most likely be impossible haha. But at the same time Pelle said that he was left an orphan, but if it Weren’t for his parents death he would’ve never had discover this new family/the cult. The ancestral tree is directly linked to bloodlines within the cult wich makes me think that his parents died in some kind of ritual.

  • I feel like the movie is really about how the difference between what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, loving and cruel is more a matter of perception than reality or fact. The movie begins and ends with some sort of "ritualistic murder", the first of which is utterly devastating, the last of which is cathartic and borderline joyful (for the commune). I think this is emphasized by the group attending the festival as anthropologists, who are ultimately trying to understand how cultures see the world differently. There's also nods to perception through the use of drugs (both psychedelic and prescribed) and the use of mirrors through the film.

  • That background music is annoying. And they all were fated to die anyway. The character photographing that book is not what got him killed. With the exception of Dani, no one was getting out of there alive.

  • I've just done watching the movie and this was one of most bizzare movie I've ever seen. It had much to do with what's going on in directors mind than what the director wants the audience to see. It was different and I liked it. How would you rate it ?

  • itni chutiya movie jindagi main nhi dekhi… 3 ghante jhand kar diye mere.. bhosadi walon dhang ka folklore bhi nhi hain kya west main.. bhenchod pagalpan faila rakha hain movie main bass…director to 1 no ka chutiya ka pattha.. aise chutiye ko oscar jaroor milna chahiye

  • The shoes thing is a reach too far.
    Besides, New Balance vs Nike… Balance vs victory… Uggg. Okay sure, but that's still a stretch.

  • Simon wasn't alive when he was strung up and a blood eagle. The lungs can't operate outside of the vacuum that is in the chest. They don't expand and contract on their own as they aren't a muscle. Simon suffocated if he didn't die before that. Sure, they looked like they were moving, but that was either part of the hallucination or a logical fallacy on the producer's part.

  • Either they studied months and months about viking rituals or they just watched a few episodes of Vikings on the history channel.

  • Pele´s parents "died" in a fire. It makes me think they were sacrificed in some way… just as the sacrifices that took place at the end of the movie. Or maybe they sacrificed themselves for their community.

  • The ironical of these summer festivals in the North hemisphere where the winter is rigorous is the fact that there is no similar festival in the tropics where the arrival of winter and the long and pleasant nights finally pull away the sun, that constantly burns your head at the temperature of 93F to 113F. I mean somedays it seems to worth a human sacrifice to have a cold day…ok, maybe a week…

  • You are such a wonderful young millennial. Thank you for what good & sweet thing s you think & do in public.
    I LOVE this film. However, I sincerely wish all those with math skills to calculate that no village/community member lives past 72. Yet, this epic sacrifice in midsummer only happens every ninety years? One must think, hein?

  • This was technically an excellent review. What was not discussed was the tragedy of Dani replacing her dead family with the new one; a family devoid of true compassion and love. She also took no time to grieve her birth family. As she gives in to this certain death at the end, her smiling was completely tragic.

  • I don't know how to feel about this one Did we really need 2 hours to tell this story Mmm ''Maybe Im to dumb for this movie'' :p

  • Ari Aster is killing it, making a, rightfully deserved, name for himself. Hereditary fucked me up, I mean at my core fucked me up yet it’s also a piece of art, how Aster does that is absolutely genius. Midsommar is even better somehow cause it works on so many levels. If anyone has ever taken a hallucinogenic they undoubtedly know that time is the first thing to get 100% fucked with, 2 hours goes by in a minute so Aster using a 20 hour day of sunlight atop of constant shrooms is so brilliant, all sensors and movements are thrown out the door..I love this guy!!

  • The scene that fucked me up the most was the rape one in which Christian is drugged. The actress that plays Dani really got me there with her reaction, combined with the whole ritual. It weirded tf out of me.

  • Biggest miss is the name of the place; Hårga.
    Check out "Hårgalåten". Basically it is said that the Devil forced the teens of Hårga to dance until they died (which the song is about), which is linked to Dani becoming the Queen.

  • Don't tell me they drugged the bear before killing it…wimps. Not very. Viking like. They should have made Christian fight the bear bare hands..who ever wins is free but no…drug ppl instead😒

  • I’m Ethnic Faith. I will never see this film .Its just more Hate Propaganda against my Ethnic Faith. They already have Banned are Ruins Ethnic Symbols of Faith In are own Home lands .

  • Omg the pubes and blood thing made me sick lol I just watched this movie and I was wondering why his drink was darker than the other orange ones

  • Not to be that person but it wasn’t maya it was Maja
    And spring wasn’t 1-16 it was 1-18
    And the blood eagle has nothing to do with the liver just the lungs being pulled through the back to represent the wings

  • one of the worst movie-review I heard ever. start with :
    "Swedish festival gone very, very wrong" – No. It was a cultish tradition and went just as planned.
    following with a plenty of details, that really reveal the depth of the research behind the script.
    but doesn't deliver any interesting insight about the movie.
    but the very worst about this review, is the disregarding of the last frame of the movie : the closer that delivered the very deep insight of the director (even he wasn't aware to it by himself) about our society these days :
    Dani is smiling, while her (ex) boyfriend is burning alive.
    that was (to me) the real "shocking ending". but it didn't got an attention, in this poor review.
    I wonder why..

  • Rubin the seer has one eye, like the Norse god, Odin, who sacrificed one eye for wisdom. I don't think that was by coincidence.

  • I thought it was interesting that there are a lot of Saint John's Wart flowers throughout the movie. The plant has properties that can be used to treat depression, and I think it's very cool & symbolic that the community that embraces Dani emotionally uses this flower in their rituals.

  • I guess the movie has double meaning: 1) An individual with a distinct ego and without community emphathy – a lonenly unhappy, loveless world and, 2) a community without ego and personality and lot's of empathy between community members – "a happy, joyful world", with zero value given to an individual human being as well as to outsiders and with all things, including wicked and cruel things done for the higher purpose of the community. In fact, this is still lonely, unhappy, lovelss world. Both are doomed.

  • 1. what’s with them burying the nuts meat and egg? and lighting a torch above it? It happens when near the end where she has the flower gown on

    2. who is lit aflame in the yellow room?

    We have: 1) mark stuffed with hay.. 2) the dude in the bear suit.. 3) london dude 4) volunteer 5) 2nd volunteer … 6) Connie ..7) the black guy ….then there two other stuffed bodies there. The two other bodies near the entrance? One has a tree sticking out of their mouth … the other has apples pouring out of them. I don’t remember this being explained. Who are the other two dead people ? It can’t be the two elders who jumped off the cliff bc their faces are intact

    3. Some are saying it is implied that their belief system is depicted as being real.. similar to how the cults beliefs turn out to be real in hereditary. I’m not sure I’m seeing where this movie does that.

    4. Is it ever explained why it’s never night time??

  • I must say, I find the names of the main characters in this movie are interesting. Throughout the history, pagan folks have always hate people of religion, especially Christianity. That's why we see that "Christian's death" at the end. As for the name "Dani"… it is feminine form of Daniel, which is derived from the Hebrew dāni'ēl (God is my judge). The name appears in the Bible, where Daniel survives a night in a den of lions. Only Dani survives at the end…so,.. coincidence?

  • Rise of the far right? REEEEEEEACHING. Ari Astar never said that, you said that. Can't get away from SJW no matter how hard you try.

  • I just clicked on this video because it said R in the thumbnail and i thought of Richie toizer writing R+E on the kiss or love bridge