Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart. But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing.
Wow, this came out of nowhere for me, but on the other hand, I don’t look at trailers since I think they spoil too much, and don’t read about ongoing projects since I think it built up too much expectations and you more or less always gets disappointed. So I stay away until it has been released.
I LOVED THIS, not immediately, but when they got to Sweden and everything started I was 100% in. It has a wonderful creepiness with all these white dressed, always smiling, everyday looking people. You immediately get the feeling that not everything is as it should.
Directed by Ari Aster, the man behind the loved it or hated it movie Hereditary (I loved it). The main girl Dani (Florence Pugh), I though was pretty annoying at first, but she has grown on me and at the end I though her performance was really, really good and it will be interesting to follow her career. Christian (Jack Reynor) as the boyfriend also made a solid performance.
The Wicker Man-esque story fits perfectly with the Swedish summer landscape.
Although it’s supposed to be taken place in Hårga, a small village in Hälsingland, Sweden,. it’s actually filmed in Utah, US and in Budapest, Hungary.
Hårga is a small village in Bollnäs county in the northern parts of Sweden. This area is called Hälsingland. The village is mainly known for a legend called ”The dance of Hårga”. It was told by a priest in the year of 1785, that all the youth got together on saturday nights to dance. One evening the music was interupted and from the shadows an unknown man appered, wearing a black hat and you could only see his burning eyes. He started to play a song no one had heard before and those who started to dance where unable to stop until they fell down totally exhausted.
I live in Sweden and today we have midsommarafton as it’s called but we celebrate it with getting together with families and friends, eat traditional food and drink aquavit (a 40% alcohol beverage), we do pick flowers and the girls put some in their hair. We also do dance around the pole dressed in flowers (midsommarstång) you see in the movie. But we don’t sacrifice anything, use psychedelic drugs or eat pubic hair pies 😂
According to swedish historian and author P.O Tideholm, writer of Celebrating the swedish way : traditions and festivities there are very few connections to pagan times in the celebration of midsommar.
– In agrarian times, Midsummer celebrations in Sweden were held to welcome summertime and the season of fertility. In some areas people dressed up as ‘green men’, clad in ferns. They also decorated their houses and farm tools with foliage, and raised tall, leafy maypoles to dance around, probably as early as the 1500s. Midsummer was primarily an occasion for young people, but it was also celebrated in the industrial communities of central Sweden, where all mill employees were given a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps. It was not until the 1900s, however, that this became the most Swedish of all traditional festivities.
MILD SPOILER: In the movie you early on see something called ättestupa, where two old folks fell to their death. But what does this come from? I have always heard about this, but never read more about it. On several places here in Sweden there are legends about these places, it was said that when old or sick people became a burden, they were thrown down a high cliff. But again, according to historians there are no evidence for this neither in swedish writting or archeologic findings. The oldest ”evidence” for this being truth, is an old icelandic story called Gautreksagan that dates back to around 1600, where it was described as being a swedish tradition. But todays historians dismiss it as being truth. But usually old folk stories have some background in the truth, or 😱
MILD SPOILER: Also in the movie at the end you see human sacrifice, although not connected to midsummer, human sacrifices were made during the Viking era here in Sweden. A human life was the most valuable sacrifice that the Vikings could make to the gods. We know that from writing sources that Odin – the king of the gods – demanded human sacrifices. The picture down below is from an archeological find in Trelleborg, located in southern Sweden. Dating back to about 1000 years ago (980-81). Read more about this topic here!
MILD SPOILER: When researching this movie I came across several articles about what they call a ”controversial ending”. I thought the ending was awesome and I love when it’s not that clear ”happy Hollywood ending”. It makes you think more and for me the film gets stuck in my brain.
So to conclude, this is a perfect movie, it’s creepy, claustrophobic, no comedy elements and it’s stuck in my head. Several times a day I think about it. Maybe a bit heavy on the rituals for some peoples taste, but to me it’s just adds atmosphere. Also the effects are really well done. There’s nothing I would change about it, so that gives me a clear 10/10.
As I watched this streaming, I can’t wait for the blu-ray to be released so I can watch it over and over again!