natergate’s review published on Letterboxd:
*Some potential spoiler/theories*
Doesn’t quite pack the punch of the initial viewing, (things like the mating ritual seemed even more absurd the second time around.) The third act does find itself less coherent but reclaims a triumphant ending. A lot of the characters arcs and the outcome of the trip are pretty heavily telegraphed throughout the film which I can see how it might underwhelm or take away from the experience for the audience. The real strength of Midsommar is in its subtle symbolism and it’s clear Aster inteneded to craft such a world where that played an important role.
At it’s core this a film about two people falling out of love and the life cycle of relationship running its course and coming to a close. We see this reflected in the seasons of life that Pelle’s commune observe. We’re seeing Dani and Christian’s relationship entering the winter phase. The film opens with a establishing shots of desolate cold and snow foreshadowing this in a more literal sense. The death of Dani’s family a gruesome portrait of what is to come while also being the event that propels Dani into joining the voyage to Sweden. Coincidence? We see a flower crown by the night stand in the Ardors room where they lay lifeless(even the wallpaper above their bed is a floral pattern). Orchestrated by Pelle perhaps in order to keep Dani and Christian together at least long enough to escort her to the festival, in essence grooming her to become the MayQueen. The morbid Attestupa ritual again an oblique line drawn to the end of a life cycle.
The feeling of being so distant from someone you’ve shared so much of your time with snaps into focus during the dinner to celbrate Dani’s coronation as the MayQueen. Dani is receiving praise from others as Christian spirals into a hallucinatory meltdown which seems to be more par for the course for Dani up until now. As a keen eyed viewer pointed out when Dani is being lifted on a pedestal after her victorious dance you can see her sister’s face with the exhaust tube connected to her face in the ebbing and flowing foreground in the trees. This still haunts her even amidst moments of joy. After the wholy bizarre mating ritual Christian painstakingly endures we see the grief that haunts Dani is still an unshakable force but this act of unfaithfulness (although Christian is in seemingly catatonic state at this point) may be what brings her to finally let go.
Doing a bit of research it appears the rune symbols on Dani’s tunic are a Dagaz(symbolizing fulfillment/rebirth) where it’s normally means purity it has been altered. She has been tainted by death and grief(the other symbol on her tunic being Raidho symbolizing delusion and death). She has clung to Christian while grieving, delusionsed to his selfishness. In order for rebirth there must be death or sacrifice. In the end we see Dani elect Christian as the final member of the nine to be sacrificed in the temple. She knows this is what must be done to potentially start a new chapter in her life. As the nine are consumed in a furious blaze we see the members of the community wailing and grieving unlike during the senicide they witness earlier. Some of those burning were not at the end of their life cycle hence the tears; it hurts to sacrifice certain things.
As Dani watches the temple continue to burn her shocked and bewildered look melts into a slow smile. The sort of morbid catharsis of knowing someone has been cut out of the equation(in the dynamic of ending a relationship for good specifically) and the potential freedom and opportunities rush in all at once. There’s so much still to heal and wonder about and to cope with, for a moment Dani doesn’t feel any of that. She is surrendered to bliss.