A Filmmaker's Guide to: "Midsommar" (2019)
An Appreciation of Cinema (Pt.15)
In this chapter of ‘the filmmaker’s guide’ we are going to explore some of the films that have changed our outlook of the possibilities in cinema in some way, shape or form. These can include, but are not limited to: revolutionary cinematography, narratives that challenge the social structure and the common view, trademark styles of auter cinema, brilliant adaptations of novels and other works, films of philosophical value and films that touch our hearts and souls with their incredible underlying messages and morals. Within each of the films in this chapter there is a certain something that makes them special and a certain something that makes them linger long after we have watched them for the first time. Lasting impressions are difficult to create, but I think that the films we will briefly touch on in this chapter are some of the films we will never ever forget.
Midsommar (2019) dir. by Ari Aster
A folk-horror film that meets more towards the tradition of “The Wicker Man” (1976) than the modern day jump-scare horrors we see made ad nauseam today. “Midsommar” (2019) is a refreshing look at the genre mixed with great performances and themes that would seem outdated if they were given in any other premise. This film by Ari Aster is a cool blend between these outdated themes and motifs and the new-age requirement for shock and meaning. The performance given by Florence Pugh is her best yet and being able to get such an extreme performance from an actress who is not yet known for horror is something Ari Aster is incredibly good at. He worked previously with Toni Collette in a revamp of her role in “The Sixth Sense” (1999) and then some for “Hereditary” (2018). Proving not only that he can get the best out of actors who are new to the genre, but he can also build on experiences within it.
Ari Aster’s second movie is an extreme look at not only how horror can be influenced by great main performances, but it is also an exercise in experimentation within the realm of folk-horror colour scheme usage. First of all, we have what is the extremely dull real-world out of the cult. This, in the mind of the protagonist, is dark because of a recent tragedy and the thought that she is a burden upon others. Next, we have the world within the cult which, symbolising belonging for the protagonist, is filled with colour and laughter, humour and women who think and look just like her. She gains good fortune and good luck whilst everyone else has horrible amounts of violent suffering and some are tortured until death, some are mutilated and others are burned alive. Throughout the movie therefore, we notice how we sympathise with the protagonist as she regains her sense of self, but we also notice how we are actually bad people for not feeling very much for the others who, previously treating her like she’s different and a burden, succumb to the violence of the cult. It is an amazing exercise in folk-horror and psychological thriller and I am personally very excited for Ari Aster’s next project.
On this, the day of our deity of reciprocity, we gather to give special thanks to our treasured sun. As an offering to our father, we will today surrender nine human lives. As Harga takes, so Harga also gives. Thus, for every new blood sacrificed, we will dedicate
one of our own. That is four new bloods. Four from Harga. And one to be chosen by the Queen. Nine in all, to die, and be reborn in the great cycle. The four new bloods have already been supplied. As for our end, we have two already dedicated, and two who have volunteered. Ingemar and Ulf. You have brought outside offerings. Thus volunteering your own bodies. You will today be joined in harmony with everything. And to Pelle, who has brought new blood, and our new May Queen, you will today be honoured for your unclouded intuition. And so, for our ninth offering, it is traditional that our fair Queen shall choose between a preselected new blood and a specially ordained Hargan.