Ari Aster, an American director and screenwriter, unveils the original “Midsommar” was missing 30 minutes of footage.
The debut of “Midsommar” in July 2019 was met with fervent excitement from fans of the director’s first feature film, “Hereditary.” The wide success of “Hereditary” gave Aster the golden pass to join with the likes of Jordan Peele. Widely respected and revered, “Hereditary” did well at the box office earning 79.3 million dollars worldwide according to Box Office Mojo, further catapulting it into a mental hall of fame for horror fanatics.
In late July, I took the opportunity to see “Midsommar.” As soon as I saw the trailer for the film, I was excited. I knew the talent Ari Aster possesses so my expectations were high. In “Hereditary,” he proved himself a strong filmmaker with the ability to hook viewers in unconventional ways. After seeing “Midsommar” for the first time, I fell in love. The color scheme sticks with you long after the film and it was hard not to notice the vibrancy of trees afterward. Not only is the cinematography strong, but the writing has a life of its own. The theater erupted in laughter countless times, yet through careful dialogue, more serious moments were easily conveyed.
Needless to say, the announcement of a director’s cut intrigued me. Any movie I truly enjoy, I make a habit of seeing twice so this was the perfect opportunity. Unsurprisingly, the theater was mostly unoccupied, with groups of two to four people scattered throughout. Based on the reactions at the end of the movie, I gathered this was the first time some people had seen it.
The new scenes focus on the lowest lows of characters Dani and Christian’s tumultuous relationship. In the first cut of the film, Dani and Christian have a minor argument about the newly disclosed trip to Sweden. The argument ends with Dani being gaslit into compliance and apologizing profusely for even bringing up her qualms. In the director’s cut, the argument is much longer, giving us further ammunition to despise Christian. The decision to make this particular spat longer is forceful, allowing the relationship to rear its ugly head even further into your space.
In the director’s cut, an argument takes place at night and is centered on Dani’s desire to leave Sweden as soon as possible. The Hårga are essentially seen as villains by the characters in the movie. They are a group of people with nothing to lose who practice ancient rituals — including human sacrifice — and are hard to defend. Dani implores Christian to think rationally, mentioning that there is no reason why the Hårga would want anthropology students to study them and expose their culture to the outside world. In true Christian fashion, he is combative and stands firm in his decision to stay there. As both parties get more emotional, we get a new perspective from Christian about the relationship. He claims Dani has ulterior motives and only does things with the expectation of them being reciprocated, bringing up the flowers she gifted him randomly the day before. Unfortunately, this entire dynamic is exclusive to the director’s cut. The first theatrical release of “Midsommar” would have been slightly bolstered by this scene, giving viewers the chance to be in Christian’s head a bit more.
If the excitement of hating Christian even more doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps the extra festival events will. This one takes place at night which seems to enhance the fear we already have of the Swedish locals. Another human sacrifice, to the deity who provides the Hårga with abundant food and resources, is about to take place with a child being drowned. Dani quickly protests and shortly after we realize they never had any intention of drowning the child, and he was simply supposed to be showing his “bravery.”
Don’t expect to see throwaway scenes that don’t add much to the movie, and don’t expect to see grand sequences that change the trajectory of the film. But rather, be prepared for noticeable differences that leave you satisfied. All of the extra scenes add a thin layer of meaning that hammers in themes that have been there all along.
In a draw between the original release and the director’s cut, I would happily hope for the latter. Less maybe more, but in this case, more is just enough. If you missed your chance to catch it in theaters, the director’s cut will only be available on Apple TV with iTunes noting that a “purchase of Midsommar comes with the director’s cut, exclusive to Apple TV.” According to Bloody Disgusting, iTunes is the only place for the director’s cut but other versions of the film will be released in late September through A24.