Midsommar (2019)
July 4, 2019 4:52 PM - Subscribe

A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. (IMDB)
posted by Countess Elena (52 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The one thing I will say without spoilers was that if Hereditary shook you up, so will Midsommar, and if it didn't, then it won't. It certainly did me, so I went in thinking, "fuck me up, Ari Aster," and he delivered.

I was absolutely taken by the richness of the mythology, much of which has real roots in European folklore. And I loved the color palette, which is really underrepresented in horror. More good-quality horror movies should take place in the sun. Some of the worst atrocities I can think of took place under open skies, in warm weather.

Based on a sample size of two, Aster seems to like to open up the horror portions of his movies with viscerally detailed head trauma. He also has a particular talent for conveying the stiffness, dollness, thingness of dead bodies that have been stuffed or posed in some way, which is the fate of many of the victims in Midsommar. I was particularly impressed by Will Poulter, who was turned into full-body necropants.

It's probably the American in me, but I turned my face away from the sex scene fully as much as I did from the head-smashing scene. How is a man supposed to get the job done under those conditions? It was a magical boner, anyway, I suppose.

Although it was clear that Pelle was a better boyfriend than the one Dani brought, I didn't quite see her heel turn when it happened. It seemed more like the result of madness or drugs than conscious choice. A lot of the latter half of the film seemed to snap in and out of a hallucination, which I think was a deliberate effect. Are shrooms like that?
posted by Countess Elena at 5:11 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]

Although it was clear that Pelle was a better boyfriend than the one Dani brought, I didn't quite see her heel turn when it happened. It seemed more like the result of madness or drugs than conscious choice.

I didn't see it as a heel turn, exactly, or even really motivated primarily by Christian's myriad deficiencies as a boyfriend. My reading of it was that she was just so starved for empathy that she found the community on offer to be totally irresistible. That she went full May Queen less because she saw her boyfriend cheating, and more because of the way the other women cried with her and shared in her grief afterward.

In any event, I saw it today and really liked it - I think I actually preferred it to Hereditary, a lot of which I find slightly opaque in retrospect. Still, what an interesting voice in Horror Ari Aster is.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:08 PM on July 4 [15 favorites]

My reading of it was that she was just so starved for empathy that she found the community on offer to be totally irresistible.

One thing that struck me: in the prologue, when she calls Christian the second time, she's screaming and crying with grief and I don't think we hear any response from him at all. He's just an emotional void. Pelle taps into that idea when he asks her later. "Does Christian feel like home to you?" He presents Holga as a new family that will accept her. Then, when she is again screaming and crying in grief later on, she is surrounded by other young women who echo that back, mourning with her. That, I think, was the turning point.

I think I like this better than Hereditary, too. Admittedly, I'm not just enormous fans of either--something about Aster's work just doesn't quite hit with me. But Midsommar left me a bit more to think about, and I think it holds together a bit better. I read somewhere that Aster called Midsommar a fairy tale with horror elements, and I like that way of reading it. It's the story of the orphan girl with the bad boy boyfriend who discovers she is really a queen, and gives her straying man the fate he has earned. You can almost imagine that plot somewhere in Grimm's fairytales--Aster just filled in the details with folk horror.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:23 PM on July 4 [7 favorites]

It seemed more like the result of madness or drugs than conscious choice.

I thought maybe so, too, until the smile at the end. It seems to me that, at most, the shrooms put her in a frame of mind to let her make the choice she really wanted to make deep inside.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:25 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]

note that Christian's drink is a different color in the pie scene.

the pictures of the aphrodisiac ritual look more like Dani and Pelle

when she was shown the may queen photos I thought that she would be sacrificed too
posted by brujita at 8:52 AM on July 5

I am SO PSYCHED for this. I will eventually watch it on my laptop in a brightly lit room in my house, same as Hereditary, and in the meantime I am really loving the bits and pieces of the plot that I can read around the internet.

Last year when Hereditary came out and I was stuck on the trailer + Wikipedia synopsis, I did a little experiment and drew comic panels to illustrate what I thought the film would be. Midsommar looks much visually richer, like an even more fun one to draw, and with a plot that's slightly harder to grasp from here. I can't wait to get into this.
posted by witchen at 8:55 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]

I saw this earlier this week and am going for a second viewing today. It resonated with me much more than Hereditary. I have pretty severe PTSD this film has the most accurate, visceral portrayal of panic attacks that I've ever seen. I have spent SO MUCH time quietly freaking out in bathrooms. Oddly, I find this highly validating on an emotional level. Love all the pagan elements, too. It's the Wickerman sequel I've always wanted and never knew I needed.
posted by zenzicube at 8:59 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]

I didn't watch Hereditary, and can't generally countenance horror at all. Still, Midsommar seemed more horror-adjacent than pure horror, and I find those irresistible. Midsommar is disturbing in many ways, but it's not the sort of scary that's going to haunt me at night (or during afternoon naps). It helped a lot that Dani is the POV character. So much of the movie featured Dani sobbing. It was such a relief when she was laughing with the other dancing women, when she rejected the herring and no one held it against her, when she was singing with the May Queen's court, when the women held and emoted with her. Dani's regular life was a horror film. She had nowhere to go but up. I'm kiiiinda hoping Dani lived happily ever after with the Holga? That's not the sort of feeling I usually have about horror films.

I might've also been primed for weirdness from the TV show Hannibal. This movie is very Hannibalesque. The only thing the Holga are missing is the deliberate sadism -- and considering Christian's end, maybe they have that too.

Some weird side stuff: the lady who led the celebrations mentioned that this midsommar celebration was the hottest ever! I wonder if the Holga think about global warming? Also: am I overthinking the situation with Pelle's brother who brought the two Brits along? He mentions that they were dating until she met her fiance; she corrects him that they were becoming friendly when she started dating her fiance. It was an interesting mismatch of history. The Holga are portrayed as serene and otherworldly, but no society is free of strife...it feels a bit like Pelle's brother brought them along as sacrifices because he'd been rejected by the girl he liked.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:19 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]

I am conflicted on whether I liked it or not overall, but some things REALLY worked for me (Pelle; the characterization of that ultimate shitty boyfriend; the scene of the women grieving together; the male nudity which is so unusual in a film but worked so well here!). On the bad side, there wasn’t any narrative tension and I didn’t care much what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t understand any of the non-commune characters’ motivations or choices. The violence seemed over the top and fake meaningful. And the beginning of the film felt like a totally different movie than the rest.

Frankly the one thing I can’t stop thinking about was how beautiful the costumes and settings were. I wish I could live in that barn and wear only florals and embroidered white linen.
posted by sallybrown at 3:03 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

when she rejected the herring and no one held it against her

I loved that part! There were lots of little touches like this that were great. Christian and the Holga leader sitting down in those chairs that were too close together (hah).
posted by sallybrown at 3:08 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Pajiba translates some of the runes used in the film. Also -- because I'd wondered how they got an R rating with full-frontal male nudity -- apparently their first attempt at cracking the MPAA included a much longer sex scene. (The MPAA ratings board is famously prudish about naked men. I wonder if Christian's death made the nudity okay for them?)
posted by grandiloquiet at 4:35 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Hey so no spoilers, but: if you're in the market for traumatically graphic grievous head injury props, I can say with an extremely high degree of confidence that Ari Aster knows a guy.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:28 PM on July 5 [10 favorites]

It's really a good thing Christian died, because he was apt to end up with some very complicated and difficult to explain fetishes.

"Maybe if we could get a naked elderly woman to push my ass cheeks?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:12 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]

Something I liked: early in, when Mark asked what game they were playing, they said "Skin the Fool."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:25 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]

The visual effects were great.

There were two bits which they hinted at but possibly cut. Thankfully the scissors placed under the baby's pillow were not revisited. And there were murals with blue (blood) coming out of a person's back, and later people wearing costumes with the same symbol, led nowhere. So a bit of misdirection.
posted by ecco at 5:57 PM on July 8

My understanding is that the practice of putting a knife under a baby's pillow is to "cut" his teeth and end his teething pain, but this is a vague understanding of a Southern practice that I never actually saw. I expected that was why they were doing it with the baby who couldn't sleep.

Apparently a lot was cut from the original script, such as further animal sacrifices, including dogs. I think that was a good call. I expect that an American could maybe handle ritual suicide, but the second a dog was killed they'd be tearing through the woods barefoot to get to the police. I know I would.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:14 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]

Was the other young woman killed or just taken to the station? She was not in the barn and the sacrifices seemed to be all male?

This is basically a revenge pic aimed at All the Shitty Boyfriends Who Were Never There for You But Would Not Just Break Up, Because They Were Shitty.

(And His Little Shitty Friends Too, For Good Measure)

Also, the bit where, AFTER they have seen Bad Shit Go Down, Christian and Josh get in a pissing match over who will get to write up this juicy anthropological find makes their fates easier to take. Take that, petty academic squabblers!

I did think at the end that maybe Pelle's parents were Barn Sacrifices and that's what he meant by "lost them in a fire" but then that would have been 90 years ago. Unless this village was into other sacrificial stuff between the 90-year ceremonies, which is easy to believe. We know everyone has to die at 72, so I guess some of that happens every year.

Basically I want all the backstory, and the myths, and to see every single painting in that barn in detail.

Other random stuff:

Pulsing flowers!
It seems unfair to attribute Dani's sisters' homicidal impulse to being bipolar.
I also want to see all the artwork on Dani's walls of her apartment
Loved LOVED the way the camera went upside down as they got closer to the village
Also the overhead panning shot of them walking through the forest was good at making you feel disoriented
posted by emjaybee at 8:12 PM on July 8 [7 favorites]

Was the other young woman killed or just taken to the station? She was not in the barn and the sacrifices seemed to be all male?

She was killed. The four outsiders sacrificed were (1) her, (2) her boyfriend, (3) Josh, (4) Mark. Then the four from the village were the two old people and the two who volunteered. Dani picked Christian to be the ninth. I'm pretty sure Connie's body was in the barn, but disfigured enough to be hard to recognize.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:53 PM on July 8

Ok so: what would have happened if Dani had spared Christian? They wouldn't have let him go back home knowing what he knows, surely?
posted by emjaybee at 11:34 PM on July 8

Connie's body was the first one you see being carted in the wheelbarrow towards the barn. Took a second viewing for me to sort out all the folks in the barn; most are nearly unrecognizable.
posted by zenzicube at 7:08 AM on July 9

"Are we just going to ignore the bear?"
"...It's a bear."
posted by yellowbinder at 7:24 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]

I really enjoyed this movie.

EVERYTHING is foreshadowing. It's great! Before they leave on the trip his friends tease Christian about all the Swedish babies he's going to make, the head cult guy tells Dani 'welcome home' when she arrives, the tapestry love potion, etc.

What I like most about Aster's films is that at the center there is an actual horror, of cult or witches or whatever, but so much around that actual horror is horrific. Like, being trapped in a loveless relationship because you can't break up because her family all just died. Or finding out your sleeping arrangements are a giant communal hut with every baby in the community.

There's a lot of humor in the cultural differences, that at first are just goofy and awkward 'we don't sit until it is time to sit' type stuff but quickly build to 'our seer is the mentally challenged planned offspring of incest' and then back to absurd with the sex scene and shared feelings. Fun stuff.
posted by graventy at 1:45 PM on July 9

Ok so: what would have happened if Dani had spared Christian? They wouldn't have let him go back home knowing what he knows, surely?

He goes right into the bear cage for a life of solitary confinement and occasional stud services, I suppose.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:29 PM on July 9

Wow someone did THEIR HOMEWORK on art history and European folk tradition - I honestly wonder what this was like for people who didn't devour The Golden Bough in high school cause I spent the entire time going :Oh yep, yep, that's gonna turn into ...and there it is."

Like the camera going upside down as they approach the village is a direct reference to "World Upside Down" a common saying for peasant festivals and the like, its referenced in some Brugehls!

I really liked how the movie was able to replicate the feeling of the acts they were depicting. Like that's the reason the movie exists more then the plot, which again anyone with a European Peasant Tradition handbook could've seen coming from frame one. I left the theater feeling an echo of the times I've been in a picket line or march where you march in circles for hours chanting the same thing until your brain goes runny. It;s the same kind of feeling from big dance events, religious revivals, or ...cult indoctrination. Break down the barriers between people. It's kind of amazing a movie basically about collective mania/ecstasy managed to make me feel a little of that using the repetation and the movement and pace.

Also while directly implicating the viewer as just "an observer" when we're also being swept up and emotionally involved. The real horror of the Holga isn't that they kill people , it's that they're so good at manipulating outsiders. The couple from London wasn't told about the rite to give them an excuse to "leave" after they got so upset about it.

It's also funny, all the shitty relationship stuff drew big laughs in my theater. Liz Lemon was right, graduate students are the worst. Aster is really good at keeping plausible deniability, matching a *tone*. In Hereditary you don't know if it's demons or if she's going mad from grief until the very end. Here, the pervasive drugs/cult indoctrination stuff means you can't actually tell if they're casting spells and invoking rites ...but also it's moot cause all of this is extremely real for the Holga. Also the final pitch black joke that the yew tree juice doesn't do shit.

Such a trip, and so pretty to look at aside from the shocks of gore. And from a mythology/folklore perspective wow they have ALL of it, at once, twice.
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 PM on July 9 [10 favorites]

Also Christian being a shitty boyfriend SHOULDN'T be cause for his fate as he is the Least Shitty of the grad students but the mood of the theater was much, much more on Dani's side.

or as the joke went when the movie came out, the central theme of Midsommar is DUMP YOUR BOYFRIEND
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on July 9

Comrade Doll noted that Dani's entire wardrobe is reproduced faithfully from the Sad College Girl Who Has Just Stopped Trying Collection. It was nice that the depressed person dressed like a depressed person instead of in an incongruous string of sexy outfits chosen for the male gaze.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:12 AM on July 10 [9 favorites]

note that Christian's drink is a different color in the pie scene.

The love potion was comprised of the pubic hair in the pie and menstral blood in the drink.
posted by cazoo at 9:19 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]

Has there been much discussion of why these grad students were so oblivious to the narrative they were being drawn into very clearly spelled out literally everywhere around them?

Obviously they don't know they're in a creepy movie, so they don't know to look around for warnings...but c'mon, I feel like any art history or English/lit grad student would have been, at a minimum, dissecting the hell out of the dormitory walls, especially after the first ritual death. And going NOPE NOPE NOPE.

(Minor quibble - I was under the impression they were Ph.D. students, but throughout the movie they kept talking about deciding on a thesis topic. Master's students do theses, doctoral students do dissertations. Or am I missing something?)

Maybe they were just too scatterbrained after watching the cliff divers - certainly, the quality of their questions to the elders suggested some unfocused thinking-on-the-fly. And being mildly drugged at all times - I assume everything they ate/drank was altered in some way - wouldn't help. But of all people, you'd think they'd take a look around and realize, wow, these horrifying images on the wall keep actually happening. These are, in my experience, people who make a show of unpacking bathroom wall graffiti.

Unrelated: Everyone I've talked to who's seen Midsommar reports at least one walkout. Mostly after the cliff jump, one during the tapestry reveal, a couple during the mating-lodge scene.

Also unrelated: Pelle's grooming of the group, they way he used their desires to prepare them to be ensnared, reminded me of The Female in Under the Skin...except that she eventually develops a weary despair over her role. I don't think Pelle is going to get there. The stakes are too high for him. (Which brings up another question: have there been defectors? People who, after living in the outside world and getting to know people, decides the community is monstrous?)
posted by Caxton1476 at 1:17 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

As a history student, I trekked to some fairly remote Eastern European villages to do the "hahaha that thing from 500 years ago was so messed up" college tour of Europe, so it worked for me. Especially since they knew and trusted Pelle! Dani and the Londoners did try to leave when they experienced the cliff jump...and I buy the film's premise that a couple of budding anthropologists would be too excited by the discovery of a new hidden society (and too self-centered) to connect it to their own fate.

Usually when you hear about people falling out of cults, it's because they have family or friends on the outside. If people like Pelle were sent out for the sole intent of integrating fresh DNA and picking up sacrifices, I doubt they're ever in the right frame of mind to fall out! But I find Pelle and his brother ("brother"?) fascinating and I would take another hour of material on them...

No one walked out of my theater, but mine was an early and quite empty showing. I think if you go to a horror movie before noon, it's not a spontaneous choice.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:35 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]

Do we think that Dani winning May Queen was a setup? I have a hard time believing a college student who'd spent most of a semester in bed has more endurance than a cow-milking, field-planting peasant girl.

And Pelle definitely wanted her to win. Having her make the ultimate choice also seals her fate; she would be unlikely to go back outside and confess "oh yeah, I agreed to have my boyfriend sewn into a bear carcass and burned alive."
posted by emjaybee at 7:43 PM on July 10

From the very first scene with Pelle it's clear Dani was chosen long, long ago. He gets so many laurels at the end! He brought the best new bloodline in! Two of them! The Holga are very concerned with that after all, how else would they make oracles?
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]

"how else would they make oracles?"

Do you buy that that's how they make oracles? I found it really interesting that they tell Christian that they carefully avoid inbreeding by keeping bloodlines separate and accepting outsiders, and they tell Josh that they specifically do inbreed for oracles. The contradiction made me not trust anything they told any of them.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:24 AM on July 11

EVERYTHING is foreshadowing. It's great!

Yeah, I loved how upfront the movie was about what was going to happen - it never presents the various murders as a surprise twist, but rather as something that you always knew was coming.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:04 AM on July 11

the ritual panels look like the charm casters urine is added, not blood. everyone else's drink in the pie scene was yellow and I observed that Christian didn't seem to notice anything strange about how his drink tasted.


I had to pee during the mating scene and didn't see what happened between the time Christian got on top of Maja and her telling him to finish. Was she on her period? Her blood added to Christian's drink?
She'd be less likely to be fertile then.
posted by brujita at 7:34 PM on July 11

There was no evidence she was having her period and I think you’re right about the urine. The sex scene mostly consisted of the cultists writhing and moaning sympathetically, one kneeling to sing directly as Christian, and eventually one seemingly getting a little tired of how long it is taking and sitting behind Christian to push his butt.
posted by maxsparber at 4:13 AM on July 12

Do you buy that that's how they make oracles? I found it really interesting that they tell Christian that they carefully avoid inbreeding by keeping bloodlines separate and accepting outsiders, and they tell Josh that they specifically do inbreed for oracles. The contradiction made me not trust anything they told any of them.

I don't think it's a contradiction to say that they carefully avoid inbreeding, except in the one specific case of conceiving a new oracle.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:44 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]

Saw this one today, and really liked it. Visually, it was such a nice change from most horror movies, to be drenched in sunlight and bucolic beauty, and how that became sinister and eerie in context. It's great to mine horror and unease from the lack of darkness, how disorienting it is to have what feels like an endless day, only punctuated by occasional twilight.

I will say that the real horror of this movie for me wasn't in the pagan murder commune, which had a sort of fairy tale logic that, for me, was more enthralling than frightening. The actual horror here was in Dani and Christian's relationship and Dani's grief, and all the more mundane horrors of both of those things. The movie was so good at turning Dani and Christian's arguments and interactions into tense and claustrophobic moments, fraught with the mundane and dread-filled reality of watching a relationship fall apart with something like inevitability. Also all the awkward moments with Christian's friends! The too-long silences, the stilted conversations--social anxiety nightmare fuel.

All that really helped to make the movie's moment of catharsis effective. After like two hours of seeing Dani isolated from Christian and his friends by virtue of her grief (and her gender), it was so powerful to see her screaming and crying with women who screamed and cried with her, who accepted and mirrored her pain rather than looking away from it, how there was nothing pretty about it, it was just visceral and raw. And too, it reminded me of the kinds of screams and groans a woman makes when in labor, an impression strengthened by the way Dani doubled over and got on her hands and knees.

Also, a thing I appreciated: no weird male gaze that I noticed! There was nothing there that was meant to be titillating, even the sex ritual wasn't especially sexy. It helped prevent me from feeling alienated from the movie and its narrative.

Oh, and one other thing: at one point, Dani's cries blend into the strings of the soundtrack, until they're indistinguishable from each other. Great sound design.
posted by yasaman at 10:29 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]

Saw this yesterday - I am not generally a horror person, but I have been wildly intrigued by everything about it so I dug up a similarly minded friend, got trigger warnings about the cliff scene from trusted horror enthusiast friends, and off we went.

(speaking of the cliff scene: Ari Aster knows he’s got a peculiar hang-up about head trauma.)

It’s beautiful, of course - the scene at the end with Dani dragging her mountainous gown of flowers past the burning temple while she sobs those deep, primal moans is one that’s sticking with me. And Florence Pugh needs SOME kind of award for her gutteral pain-screams, because I was racked with anxiety every time she COULDN’T let her pain out, and more when she COULD. They twanged some empathetic string deep inside.

Will Poulter did such a good job being the Super Asshole White Guy that when I finally realized he had a vape pen in his hand I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes and saying aloud, oh of COURSE he vapes! We really couldn’t wait for him to die. Was he also an anthro major? Because it seems if he were he really would have been more understanding about why it was bad he peed on the tree.

Could not help but giggle when Josh is giving Christian grief about the thesis thing and one of his points was, “It’s unethical!”

I may watch too much Scandi Noir, because I recognized two of the actresses from work they did on Bron/Broen. And while I did understand a bit of the Swedish dialogue without subtitles... were Dani and the other girls really speaking Swedish while they were dancing and tripping balls? It sounded a little more like gibberish than the other times Swedish was being spoken, to me, but maybe it’s a dialect thing.

I think I got the most creeped out when Dani was crowned May Queen and was walking through the Hårga people and they were saying, “We love you!” in Swedish. Nobody bothered to put subtitles for that, for some reason, and I don’t understand why. I thought it would be an additional signifier that they were taking her in, adopting her into the commune. They don’t know her, but they love her and she belongs with them now. I shuddered.

anyway bets on how many Americans are going to run off to the more bucolic countrysides of Sweden this summer and next looking for midnight sun, girls in embroidered linen dresses, and a side of peculiar rituals with psychotropics? sorry, Sweden.
posted by angeline at 2:00 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

HEY actually I am super confused by one point.

They burned the elders, we saw them put them on a pyre, we saw them gather the ashes to put on the tree. But then later we see the upper torsos of the elders stuffed with fruit and with antlers mounted on their heads. They didn’t look skinned when they were put on the pyre, what did I miss?
posted by angeline at 7:36 PM on July 14

I thought those were effigies of the elders, not their actual bodies.
posted by yasaman at 10:12 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]

I agree they were effigies, because when they were picked up they looked light.

There was no evidence she was having her period and I think you’re right about the urine.
posted by maxsparber

I can't believe I'm typing this, but when Christian ran out of the orgy building, his penis looked like it had blood on it. But I feel like the Holga would have been timing the sex for when she was ovulating? So I don't know.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:30 AM on July 18

I assume that was from her hymen tearing, as it was her first time.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:58 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]

Gang I, uh, don't wanna be the one to point this out, but you can save menstrual blood for later. No reason it had to be fresh that day.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:10 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]

I love you guys.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:35 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]

were Dani and the other girls really speaking Swedish while they were dancing and tripping balls?

No, they were not. It was all made up gibberish.
posted by gemmy at 7:31 PM on July 20 [5 favorites]

Ok, so this movie was made for me. I'm Swedish and was an anthro major in college in the US. I saw it alone this afternoon, and it was really good, and I really enjoyed it. I specifically liked its sly digs at cultural relativism, given how Josh and Christian talked themselves into being pretty OK with the ättestupa suicides because they saw it as part of the local culture, something that they could study without having to get involved...

As a Swede, it was interesting how many elements of Swedish culture they weaved in, borrowing heavily from the actual normal pagan-style celebrations at midsummer (like the maypole and the flower wreaths, although the traditional folk costumes on offer are more Hungarian, where the movie was filmed, rather than Swedish). I have a few stray random thoughts:

- The style of the artwork on the murals in the young people's house and other artwork around Hårga looked right and very familiar to me, which I think is because it has similarities to various medieval imagery in churches I've visited back home. For example, see some of the remaining interior paintings in the church in my northern Sweden home town of Husum, built in the late 1400:s.
- The background talking in Swedish (Pelle greeting his brother and other family members, the background chatter that isn't translated, etc. all sound very much like how you talk to your family and it's all innocuous. When Pelle talks to his brother Ingemar at first, for example, they are talking about how skinny he has become.
- The way the tables have been laid for meals - in a style called långbord (long table) - is spot on. The beer glass, the snaps glass, the artfully arranged food... I have sat at many similarly decorated tables in my life. However, the fact that there are no nubbevisor (drinking songs) means that it doesn't feel right at all.
- An ättestupa is actually an old legend, suggesting that in prehistoric times the elderly would off themselves when they couldn't contribute to the household. There are lots of places with that name; I've visited a few. Probably not a real thing, though, but rather spreading from the Icelandic Gautreks Saga from a popular translation in the 1700s.
- When the girls danced around the midsommarstång (may pole), there was one dance in particular that caught my eye. It was very similar in the way they weaved around each other to a ring dance called "Lasse går i Ringen" (link to a terrible example, there aren't any good ones). (At my confirmation camp, we tried to set a Guinness World Record of the longest continuous such ring dance. We didn't succeed and stopped at around 9 hours, although we had a lot of fun with it.)
- Hårga is a real place, and Hårgadansen - where girls would dance for the devil until they died - is a real legend. I really wish they would have played Hårgalåten - the folk music that goes together with that legend - rather than what they did play. All of the singing and the music in the movie were not Swedish. The lyrics were definitely not, and I didn't recognize any of the music they played.
- However, when Dani is stumbling away to cry after taking mushrooms the first time, she thinks a group of young people are laughing at her. In the previous scenes, that group is in the middle of singing a very famous song by Swedish composer Carl Michael Bellman. Sadly, I can't recall exactly which one... I'm going to have to go see it again to see which one!
posted by gemmy at 9:12 PM on July 20 [17 favorites]

I thought that his dick was red from too much friction....healthline seems to corroborate this.
posted by brujita at 11:06 AM on July 25

saw it in a theatre where there happened to be a bunch of teenagers who burst out in horrified giggles during the sex scene. Just imagine your mom reaching out to grasp your hand and singing to you as you lose your virginity and grandma going behind the man to push him into you? God, for a teenager that has got to be more horrible than a thousand bashed-in heads.

Anyway, were screaming horrified giggles and then the whole theatre was laughing at the gigglers, meanwhile the crazy sex scene was still happening. It was quite the thing.
posted by IwishIwasFordMaddoxFord at 4:42 PM on July 27

I feel like it says something about car dependency in our society that the car time between Fertility Cult Land and a train station was cited as 35 minutes, probably no more than 35 miles, and yet none of the healthy twenty-something Americans in the movie were like “let me just grab my pack full of camping gear along with a few pubic pies for the road and walk far away from these nutters.”
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:35 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]

I thought about that during the movie and decided that it would have been futile for them to walk, as they would have been easily chased down and recaptured. We see a colt, so I'm assuming they either have saddle horses or carts, if not cars somewhere.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:58 AM on July 31

Some dudes just have red dicks.
posted by maxsparber at 4:21 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]

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