From: Silver Screen

Scenes that Stick: A twisted way to end a toxic relationship in ‘Midsommar’

Scenes that Stick: A twisted way to end a toxic relationship in ‘Midsommar’
Graphic by Carly Johnson

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for “Midsommar.”

The final scene in director and writer Ari Aster’s “Midsommar” puts a new approach on how to end a toxic relationship in a gruesome fashion. 

“Midsommar” follows a group of friends who travel to their friend’s rural hometown in Sweden to attend the midsummer festival. Dani (Florence Pugh), her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his friends unexpectedly go through a series of horrific events during the festival. They fall into the hands of the Hårga cult, where their vacation slowly spirals into bizarre human sacrifices. The end of the film is one of the most twisted yet relatable ways one can feel after ending an unhealthy relationship. 

The film starts with Dani grieving over her parents and sister’s tragic death. Dani struggles to control her emotions and her relationship with Christian, as Aster showcases the striking difference in both of their emotions within their toxic relationship. When we see Dani speaking to her friend over the phone in the first scene, she discusses her issues within the relationship but shifts blame to herself rather than Christian. However for Christian, rather than seeing his faults, he quickly chooses to blame it on Dani’s neediness and attempts to end the relationship.

It backfires, however, after Dani experiences an emotional breakdown, leaving Christian compelled to stay in the relationship. Christian later invites Dani to their trip to Sweden assuming she would say no. Throughout the trip, he becomes very distant and dismissive of her. 

Aster focuses their dynamic as a form of obligation, where the two characters seem to embody the toxicity surrounding emotional immaturity through their interactions in the movie. It puts an emphasis on the reality of unhealthy relationships and how it can be a never-ending cycle of emotional dread. Although the film depicts consequences of unhealthy relationships through a drastic series of horrific events, many people can still relate to how Dani feels by the end of the film. 

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

The final scene ends with the Hårga cult ending their midsummer ceremony through the crowning of Dani as the May Queen. In this scene, we see two perspectives through the reverse shot. The camera first zooms out from Christian inside a tent, then the whole tent itself. Visually, Christian is miniscule within the frame. Aster maintained focus showcases Christian’s awareness of his surroundings. As a fire started by the cult starts to collapse the tent, his life is on the verge of collapsing too. 

On the other hand, we get a crosscut from Dani’s perspective as the scene switches between the tent and Dani’s face. In that moment, both scenes fade into each other to reveal Dani’s face with a smile - contrasting her tears and sorrow she felt throughout the film. Dani being selected as the May Queen is symbolic — her role is to choose the last person to sacrifice. She truly frees herself from the unhealthy bond of her relationship when she chooses Christian. Aster creates a scene that not only demonstrates a phenomenal artistry in cinematography but visualizes the empowerment and liberty that Dani feels as she screams out the pain and toxicity she felt tied to. Her final scream marks the purging of her harmful relationship. 

This scene sticks out as the most liberating and emotional moment in the film. The contrast between backdrops of the bright, colorful spring and the dark, bleak winter in the beginning becomes a metaphor in itself; Dani breaks free from the destructive and cold relationship she was restrained to. By visualizing this awakening through a simple scene that doesn’t rely on dialogue, its impact truly speaks louder than words ever could.

More from Silver Screen

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.

Coronavirus Project