'Midsommar' Spoilers: Ending Explained by Director Ari Aster
"Their language is empathy."
Midsommar is a weird movie with a very weird ending. Anyone who saw Hereditary probably expected something trippy and unique from director Ari Aster’s second feature film, but you may still need some help parsing exactly what happens to the main character, Dani (Florence Pugh), at the end. Thankfully, we had a chance to chat with Aster after seeing Midsommar and he explained what the ending means, spoilers and all.
In short, Dani is “moving from one codependent relationship to another,” Aster tells Inverse. Read on for a detailed breakdown of what that really means to Aster.
Warning: This should be obvious by now, but spoilers ahead for Midsommar’s ending.
Here’s a quick refresher on what happens in Midsommar. The movie begins with the murder of Dani’s parents by her mentally unstable sister, who then commits suicide (yeah, it’s disturbing right off the bat, I guess that’s Aster’s thing). At the same time, Dani is dating Christian (Jack Reynor), and she leans heavily on him to deal with her grief while his friends tell him to break it off.
Fast forward a few months and Dani decides to join Christian and his friends on a trip to Sweden where they plan to study a small community, Hårga (pronounced “Horga”), and its unique midsummer festival. For the next two hours, Midsommar gets progressively weirder and spookier. They take a lot of drugs and people start to disappear.
Finally, at the end of Midsommar, when all the Americans except Dani and Christian are dead, we learn exactly what Hårga is up to. After crowning Dani as the “May Queen,” the festival culminates in a human sacrifice that includes a mix of murdered outsiders, a few locals chosen by lottery, and one more person selected by Dani herself.
Given the choice between her terrible boyfriend (who she also just witnessed having sex with another woman) and some other member of Hårga, Dani condemns Christian to death. The final moments of Midsommar show the entire village mourning their deaths as they cry out in agony. For a moment, Dani is silent, then she joins in, basically becoming part of the community and replacing his relationship with Christian with this new one.
Or, at least, that’s Aster’s interpretation of his movie.
“Dani is a person who has a tendency to fall into codependency in a relationship,” he says. “She’s moving from one codependent relationship to another by the end. It’s like the ultimate codependent family.”
He adds that the village is particularly well suited to this role. “Their language is empathy, and Dani is a character who is like in dire need of some empathy.”
On a more personal level, Aster also reveals that he was going through a breakup in his personal life at the same time that he was writing this movie. After being approached by a Swedish agency with a pitch to make a Hostile-style slasher against the backdrop of a pagan summer festival, Aster initially balked before realizing that he could use it as a way to explore that experience.
“I found a way to marry the breakup movie that I wanted to write with the folk horror genre,” he says, calling Midsommar a “big grand operatic breakup movie” and also “one of the most personal things I’d ever written.”
Midsommar is in theaters now.