In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Midsommar, we answer questions you have about the movie. If you’re curious about plot explanations, meanings, themes, lessons, motifs, symbols, or just confused by something, ask and we’ll do our best to answer.
- Dani Ardor – Florence Pugh
- Christian – Jack Reynor
- Josh – William Jackson Harper
- Mark – Will Poulter
- Connie – Ellora Torchia
- Simon – Archie Madekwe
- Pelle – Vilhelm Blomgren
- Ingemar – Hampus Hallberg
- Maja – Isabelle Grill
- Ulf – Henrik Norlén
- Inga – Julia Ragnarsson
- Written by – Ari Aster
- Directed by – Ari Aster
Midsommar | Questions and Answers
Did Pelle have anything to do with the death of Dani’s family?
This is a popular online theory. It got started because some flowers are visible in the shot of Dani’s parents in bed. Specifically, there’s a framed picture of Dani on a bedside table and it has flowers over it. It’s very similar to later in the movie when Dani’s wearing the May Queen crown.
People took this detail and connected it to Pelle talking about how excited he was for Dani to go with the group to the Hårga and how much Pelle works to convince Dani about their way of life. There’s also probably a spill over from people who watched Hereditary and how everything in that movie was by design so they looked for similar ties to the story elements of Midsommar.
While it’s impossible to rule out this theory, it seems incredibly unlikely. If Pelle was in contact with Dani’s sister, Terri and gaslit her into parricide, that seems like something that Ari Aster would acknowledge in some way more formal than “there were flowers over a photo.” Whether that’s seeing Terri’s email inbox, or a picture in her room that’s in the style of something we see Pelle draw later, or in the opening tapestry that summarizes the movie, or some dialogue where Pelle mentions to Christian or someone that he had tried to help Dani by talking to Terri. Something. The fact we have nothing is, to me, enough to completely squash this theory. As mysterious as Midsommar can feel, it’s not that subtextual.
What’s far more likely is that Aster has a theme of fate. Was Dani fated to be the May Queen? This concept is introduced through the opening tapestry, that pentaptych (five part image) that starts in winter with the death of Dani’s family, then shows Dani and Christian, with Pelle observing from a tree, then Pelle leading the friends to the Hårga, then the beginning of the midsummer festival, then the end. It’s elaborated on with Dani’s childhood home having floral wallpaper, as well as the flowers over Dani’s photo. Then the painting Dani has in her room of the princess kissing the nose of a giant bear. Then at the Hårga there’s all sorts of similar art that foreshadows events.
So Pelle just took advantage of Dani’s grief and probably had a crush on her. But he didn’t have anything to do with what happened to her family. Most of the theories I’ve read that try to justify this have to assume way too much and make such giant leaps that they don’t hold up to what we actually see and hear in the film.
And Aster himself, in an interview with the Huffington Post, said “Well, yes, I have read that [theory]. I can go as far as to say that it’s totally incorrect.”
Actually, I just read more of the interview and Aster said, when asked about the picture frame, “Well, I’m glad you noticed that. If you notice, there are many prophetic pictures strewn throughout the film. It was our way of weaving in the idea that whatever is inevitable is bound to happen. If you remember, the pictures hanging over the beds of Dani and Christian also foreshadow their respective endings.”
I love when I read/hear filmmakers confirm things that I’ve already written.
Do the Hårga put someone in a bear suit and burn them every year?
According to Aster in a Reddit AMA, no. The last part of the ceremony is something that only happens every 90 years. But they probably have some kind of midsummer festival each year.
Did Pelle’s parents die in the barn burning?
Pelle tells Dani that his parents died in a fire. A lot of viewers assume that maybe his parents were part of the bear ritual, like how we see Ingemar and Ulf sent into the barn to represent the Hårga and balance out the sacrifice of the four outsiders. If what Aster said is true and the burning happens once every 90 years, then it couldn’t have been Pelle’s parents. He’s between 18 and 36 years old. And the last bear in a barn ritual would have been 90 years prior. So either Pelle’s parents were victims of another ritual, an accident on the Hårga, or weren’t part of the commune and he was adopted afterwards.
Since he said he and Ingemar have been best friends since they were babies, the theories that Pelle was adopted by the commune probably aren’t true. Which means his parents were part of the commune and lost their lives in an accident or ritual. I’m guessing ritual. But it must not have been the bear in the barn but something else.
What killed Dani’s parents?
Terri used the hose to pump her parents’ bedroom with car exhaust. Meaning they passed in their sleep, probably without ever realizing what was happening. Meanwhile, she took a much more dramatic route of strapping the end of the hose to her face. It would have been a lot worse for her than it was for them. The vomit is evidence of this.
What was wrong with Dani’s sister?
It’s never stated outright. Probably a major depression along with some other mental health issues.
What happened to Mark, Josh, Simon, and Connie?
The Hårga were always going to sacrifice at least four outsiders. So it’s a bit strange because it seems like Mark, Josh, and Simon all become victims based on transgressions. Simon because he freaked out during the ättestupa ceremony and was rude about it. Mark because he peed on an ancestor tree. Josh because he tried to take photos of the holy text. There’s an implication that if they had behaved better then maybe they would have survived. Except we see with Connie that this isn’t true. She doesn’t say or do anything offensive, she just wants to leave with Simon. But they sacrifice her anyway.
With Simon, we see they used him for a blood eagle ritual and have kept his body dangling in a shed. They peeled Mark’s face off. They planted Josh’s leg. At the very end, the bodies of all four are put into the barn with Christian. Mark’s face on a scarecrow in a jester outfit. Connie decorated like a wreath. Simon with flowers in his eyes. Josh with flowers in his mouth.
If Josh’s leg is planted in the ground, how does he have both legs in the barn?
This seems to be a slight continuity error. Unless the leg is supposed to be from someone else? But that would be random/disconnected.
Will Dani go back to the United States?
I don’t think so. I think the point is that she discovers this new family and will stay part of that family. She’s joined the cult. If she were to go back to America, she’d be starting over completely. And also…like…questioned for the disappearance of five people she left the country with. I imagine as soon as she returned she’d have huge legal issues. The “happy” ending is that she stays at the commune and probably has a relationship with Pelle, if the Härga even have monogamous relationships?
Why do the flowers and trees move?
Is Dani’s sister’s face visible in the trees?
So right after Dani wins the dance battle and becomes the May Queen, she’s put on a platform and carried to the next part of the festival. During this, in the trees, you can see the face of Dani’s sister from when the police found her body (even a line representing the hose that was in her mouth). As far as I’m aware, it’s the only time something like this happens.
For those who are uncertain, there’s a comparison image in this tweet. You can even see how the eyes are different colors the way we saw with Terri. So this is most definitely a purposeful thing and not people making it up.
What does it mean? The simplest answer is that she’s on drugs (she is) and that it’s simply an externalization of the fact that Dani’s haunted by what happened. We know she’s been consumed by grief. But this would be a physical projection of that. Especially since the only reason we see the trees and everything pulsing and breathing is because Dani’s subjective POV is influencing the third-person camera. So if aspects of her subjectivity are affecting what we’re seeing, then the presence of Terri’s face would track with the grief that’s haunted Dani.
It’s probably also worth nothing that this is a tipping point between Dani going from without family to having a new family. Because she’s the May Queen, the Hårga adopt her. You could make a number of interpretations and arguments with this in mind. For example, the Hårga talk about purging unholy affekts. So maybe Terri’s face marks the beginning of that process? Since it represents the grief Dani’s carried inside of her and now we’re seeing it on the outside for the first time?
I don’t think it implies a supernatural element, since this portion of the movie is so heavily influenced by Dani and Christian being on drugs. If the special tea wasn’t involved, then you could make the supernatural case. But since it is: not supernatural.
Is there any connection between Midsommar and Hereditary? Are they the same universe?
There’s no direct connection. While they could be part of the same universe, there’s no reason to make that argument aside from wishful thinking.
What questions do you have?
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