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Warning! This article contains SPOILERS for the ending of Midsommar! If you haven’t yet seen it, leave this place but come back when you have.
So about that ending to Midsommar? Talk about unforgettable… and open for interpretation. It’s the kind of finale you’ll sit in silence thinking about and mull over for days and then want to discuss. Christian’s fate is a brutal one. After being coerced into a disturbing sex ritual, he’s sown into a bear carcass and left in a temple to go up in flames with the rest of the human sacrifices of the summer festival.
Was it an act of revenge from his girlfriend Dani after he proved to be a lousy boyfriend throughout the film? The lead actress who plays her, Florence Pugh, would like to think she had reached a state of insanity by the end, and it’s how she chose to play the final scene. Here’s what she said:
I thought it would be so interesting to have the love of her life in the building and she's a kid looking at a firework. That's how I imagined it, saying, 'This is someone that's completely gone now. She doesn't realize what's going on, and she's just really happy the fire is going up.' So when we shot it, that's what I was trying to get at. That's what made the ending possible (for me). I don't think I would've supported Dani as much if she knew that he was in there. I don't think anybody is that sinister. You're not going to watch your boyfriend cheat and be like, 'Burn!' I know Christian was a bit of a (expletive), but I didn't want her to be evil at the end.
So to Florence Pugh, Dani was in a state of ignorance as she watched the temple go up in flames, unaware her boyfriend of four years was going up with it. In the last scene, she goes through a range of emotions: laughing, crying, and then ending on a smug smile.
In the actress’ interpretation, Dani was in such a place of trauma regarding the murder/suicide of her family and then over her boyfriend cheating on her that she couldn’t truly see her loss unfold during the cultish ritual. When Florence Pugh saw the film, she said she found additional evidence that Dani had a psychotic break too.
I wouldn't agree with there ever being an iteration of the movie where she didn't know he was burning. But there were a lot of scenes that were cut, and probably a few that helped illustrate she was losing her grip on her sanity, which you hopefully still see.
Ari Aster was inspired to write the film after he himself dealt with a breakup, and therefore Midsommar’s themes lean in to how their relationship plays out by the end of the movie’s graphic horrors. So while questions of Dani's sanity at the end are valid, make no mistake, he wrote and directed it with it in mind that Dani has awareness of her boyfriend being burned alive in that temple and in that bear.
He also calls it a “sort of perverse, wish-fulfillment fantasy” and says this of the ending:
The film offers catharsis at the end that hopefully people can get into, but will also have to wrestle with later.
Per his comments, Midsommar could certainly be an allegory of the feelings one has directly at the end of a bad break-up such as hers. After the way he treated her and witnessing him with someone else, perhaps it’s cathartic to watch him burn in that moment. Later, when her intense feelings settle, she may regret his punishment.
No matter what Ari Aster intended, movies are personal experiences and will likely mean something a little different to each person after the credits roll. What do you think the ending means? Did you think Dani intentionally let Christian die? Sound off in the comments below!