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(Credit: A24)

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Florence Pugh on the madness of Ari Aster film 'Midsommar'

@Russellisation

Whilst horror was once reserved for the dark corners of obscurity, it has now reached the popularity of the mainstream thanks to Ari Aster’s original take on the genre with the likes of Hereditary and Midsommar. Released in 2019, it is the latter of these films that perhaps better grabbed the focus of pop culture, recognition of its ever-popular cult themes as well as the appearance of Florence Pugh in the lead role. 

Rising to popularity through roles in The Falling from Carol Morley, Lady Macbeth and the horror flick Malevolent, Pugh was eventually awarded a role in Midsommar that catapulted the actor to international acclaim. Starring as the tormented lead character in Ari Aster’s horror, Pugh plays Dani, a naive teenage girl who travels with her friends to a fabled Swedish festival that quickly descends into surreal chaos. 

In conversation with the American Film Institute, Pugh discussed the nature of the chaotic production, stating: “The shoot was totally nuts, we shot I think for about two and a half months and, bless Ari [Aster], he was dealing with possibly 100, 120 people, additional extras and actors there, all speaking in three different languages and he was the captain of the ship”. 

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Explaining the difficulty of shooting in the height of summer in Sweden with such a varying ensemble cast, Pugh continues, noting: “It was a big project to make in that amount of time, we got it done but it was, as you can imagine, totally exhausting and yet you watch it and it’s very perfectly paced”. Despite the rush and panic of the film’s production, Pugh puts down the quality of the final product down to Aster’s direction as well as “the magic of making big tiny films”.

Described as a breakup movie by the director, Midsommar is a unique horror hybrid that conceals its identity behind a careful veil of folk horror. Speaking about the film, Ari Aster said in discussion with YouTube channel Birth.Movies.Death: “I just wanted to write a breakup movie, and I saw a way of marrying the breakup movie that I was having at the time with the structure of a folk horror film”. 

Noting Eyes Wide Shut from Stanley Kubrick as a major inspiration for the director, along with Modern Romance from Albert Brooks and Scenes from a Marriage by Ingmar Bergman, Aster takes the majority of his influence from an unlikely source, however. As the director further tells the YouTube channel: “Zulawski’s Possession, that’s a big one and that’s a big one that I return to again and again, I think if there is any legacy for the film, I would love for it to be a movie that people go to when they’re going through a breakup, I hope this qualifies as a contribution to that tradition”.

Revisit the joys of the summer months during the cold winter season by revisiting Ari Aster’s modern classic Midsommar, starring Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor and William Jackson Harper. Check out the trailer, below.