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The Art of 'Midsommar'

Still of the opening screen of Midsommar, Ari Aster, Ragnar Persson

'Midsommar' is a folk horror film by Ari Aster. Whilst many people have already noted that they notice a lot more on the second viewing, I have noticed that a lot of intricacies and foreshadowing can actually be seen hiding in plain sight within the art included in the film.

There are so many pieces to examine, that in this piece, I am going to speak about my two personal favourite pieces.

The first shot of the film is a mural, on screen for about 30 seconds. This mural alludes to things that are to come within the film; completely foreshadowing the entire plot. This brings an almost comedic value, that Aster is such a skilled filmmaker that he can ruin the entire plot of his film in plain sight, but nobody seems to notice until at least the second watch.

As we learn in the film, they live in seasons, which are depicted in this tapestry. However, Autumn doesn't appear here as the film starts in Winter and ends in Summer, leaving it out entirely.

Working from left to right, there is the scene of 'Winter', represented not only by the colour scheme but also the skeleton. This is representing death, also shown cascading snowflakes from his open mouth.

We see illustrations of Dani and her family all connected by an umbilical cord, with a skeleton using a sword to cut Dani from her family. This is symbolic that death is separating her from her family. (Which we see in the opening moments of the film.) The umbilical cord is also probably directly linked to the tube that her sister uses to commit the murder/suicide on herself, and her parents.

Moving on to Spring, we see Pelle as a higher power - about to be a 'puppet master' in which he moves the main characters as pawns. We see him sketching in a notepad, something he also does in the film. Almost as if he is piecing his plan together, and creating a final outline. We see Dani being consoled over her parents death by Christian.

We then move to Late Spring/Early Summer, where we see everyone making it to Harga, each starting to fulfil their roles. We see Mark in a Jesters hat as he plays 'the fool'. A role that he embodies full-heartedly, eventually leading to his demise.

We can see the throne that Dani will eventually claim as may queen, right next to two of the villagers jumping from a cliff. This is representing the elder Harga's who jumped to their death, starting the Midsommar festival this year round.

However, they appear to be young in this rendition, when in reality they are 72 at this period. Perhaps it symbolises that in death, they are forever young.

We also see the bear at the bottom, representing the bear throughout which is ultimately Christian's demise.

Ultimately, we have Summer. Both the start and end of the tapestries have two prominent faces; the sun and the skull, making it seem as though the skull represents the moon.

This is the final panel of the tapestry, representing Midsommar. We see the May pole with skeletons wearing flower crowns, representing the martyr's for the Midsommar ritual.

We see the women dancing around the May pole, with the final meal before the ultimate demise of the majority of our main characters.

Poor Little Bear by John Bauer

This painting is featured earlier in the film, above Dani's bed after the loss of her family. It is painted by John Bauer, a Swedish illustrator is known for interpreting folk law in his work.

This painting is my personal favourite throughout Midsommar. It is symbolic of Dani and Christian's relationship, and the inevitable breakdown of it.

It heavily (and literally) foreshadows Christian's demise, and somehow, the bear even seems to share an undoubtable likeness to Christian's facial expressions.

There are multiple layers to the symbolism of this painting, but the main for me being that their time together is ending.

I recently completed a portrait of the protagonist, Dani.

Available for purchase below.


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