Midsommar

Midsommar ★★★★★

The "Director's Cut" for Midsommar is a rare example of when deleted content is restored to a long film (in this case, 22 minutes to a 148 minute film), the film goes from great to epic. I think the last time this was the case was with the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The film just becomes richer, deeper, and wholly immersive. It's almost analogous to the art book that accompanies the Director's Cut Blu-Ray: all of that art is in the movie but it is either offscreen or too small to see. Including that extra film content is like viewing the book's drawings: the visual feast is finally complete.

What really benefits from the extra content is the increased character development. Danny's transition from a sobbing insecure wreck to a smiling flowery May Queen makes even more sense. Her asshole boyfriend is revealed to be even more of a gaslighting prick than we originally knew, and his selfish friends are even more narcissistic in their own dickish ways. Even the nicest douchebag of the group, the Swedish friend Pelle, is shown to be more of a psychological manipulator.

I don't know if it was because I was watching this in 4K HDR, but the scene as they drive into the Swedish countryside with the overhead drone view that flips upside down, then right side up, is absolutely mesmerizing. And the overhead view of the white-clad cultists sitting in the shape of a rune letter -- how did I miss that before?

And Ari Aster clearly has experience with "shrooms." The "bad trips" several group members have while on mushrooms is completely accurate. First, I don't know if this is the same for everyone that has tried mushrooms, but sitting/lying down in a pasture and tripping out over the clouds and leaves in the tree is a "been there, done that" experience. And the selective anxiety attacks that people have -- Christian: "Oh fuck, it's a new person." Mark: "What? I don't want a new person right now!" If you haven't tried shrooms yet and you've got a "high anxiety" personality -- proceed with caution.

There's just so much to enjoy on multiple viewings, whether with this cut or the original: the panning shot of another Ari Aster "WTF" scene of familial horror, the fantastic score that layers normally upbeat folk music with dread, and the symbolism that proliferates nearly all the scenes in Sweden -- like the "youth house" with it's ceilings and walls covered in murals.

In fact, that art book I referenced that came with the Director's Cut Blu-Ray not only treats you to an introduction by Martin Scorseses, it also features a selection of Ragnar Perrson's artwork that don both the youth house and Siv's cabin. They don't show any of these in the movie, but it is referenced in short dialogue by nymphomaniac Mark:

"What do you guys do when you need to jerk off? Especially with all these dicks on the walls. There's lots of dicks.

Oh wait, there's some pussy paintings here too."

If you want to see what he's talking about, you need to get the Director's Cut to get the art book. Let's just say this Blu-Ray and the art book is going on my highest shelf as I'll probably have young impressionable grand kids some day.

Bumping this up from four to five stars.

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