Ari Aster’s Midsommar re-watchability is through the roof. A horror movie set in broad daylight, viewers always have something to look at besides the Final Girl with her flashlight running through the trees. Taking every opportunity to utilize his set, world building, and characters, Aster made a movie designed for the viewer to watch over and over again, each time catching something new.
The movie begins with a mural.
In the first viewing, the audience is overwhelmed and not sure what to look at. In reality, this mural displays the whole plot of the film. From Dani’s family’s murder suicide, to the May Queen coronation, second time viewers suddenly discover the brilliance of the painting. When I first watched it, I couldn’t stop staring at Mu Pan’s sun, lips parted maliciously. In a way, the never-setting sun, during this midsummer festival, is an omniscient watcher, letting everything fall into place naturally.
Each section of the mural is symbolic as well. In the opening panel, we see Dani’s family connected by a cord, attached to their bodies, then being snipped by a skeleton. It’s obvious without words that this is a family with close bonds, and only one person is left behind in their tragic death.
In the next panel, we see Dani’s grief and Christian’s attempt of consolation, while holding his other hand behind his back. Pelle, sits watching in a tree, clearly noting the beginning of the end of their relationship.
The next panel shows Pelle leading their group to Hårga and playing the flute as if he’s the Pied Piper. Even his body language is more upbeat and excited in comparison to everybody else. The next panel displays the party during the festival, experiencing the Hårga and learning about their customs, as well as experiencing the more gruesome parts of this festival.
Finally, we see the May Queen celebration. Several girls dance with skeletons and they are watched by a group of people ready to eat dinner. This in itself is self explanatory of what happens the last act of the movie.
In the movie, a tapestry is displayed, showing a courting ceremony. The viewer, upon first glance thinks to themself, “Oh, this definitely something I need to remember” but then, when the ceremony comes into play, we are so absorbed by the movie, that we all forget the tapestry displayed, blowing in the wind. Rewatchers easily connect the dots once they have insight to the whole film.
Before Dani even considers visiting the Hårga, foreshadowing is shown in her own bedroom. The scene before Dani decides to go to Sweden, she’s shown laying in bed, a poster of a girl wearing a crown kissing a bear on the snout (Bella’s Glorious Adventure by John Bauer). For many, this is just a poster. Maybe a nod to a childhood favorite book, or a light-hearted housewarming gift. For the in-the-know viewer, it’s foreshadowing of what is yet to come.
During the Midsummer festival, Dani and the viewers keep seeing things. The most talked about online is the faces in the trees. Noticeably, we see a face that is Dani’s sister and the tube that she used to kill herself. In my third watch of the film, I saw a man’s face, who I assume is her father. So it’s safe to say her mother may be lurking in the trees too.
I’ll admit, despite seeing Midsommar in theatres three times, I’ve yet to see the director’s cut (I’m an American so it’s not as easily available), nor have I read the script, which are both filled with more insight to the Hårga, their festival, and the characters’ relationships. In the script, there’s a lot of discussion of runes, and in the director’s cut, we are given insight to why Connie’s body is bloated and blue. There’s no right way to view Midsommar, but how many times you watch it, totally does.
Thank you to the Midsommar subreddit for finding information on the art pieces.