Comparison between the Theatrical Cut and the Director's Cut (both available on iTunes VOD)
- 33 deviations, including 8x of alternate sequences and 4 audio changes
- Difference: 1389.4 sec (= 23:09 min)
MIDSOMMAR and its various cuts
After several short films Ari Aster presented his debut feature film Hereditary in 2018 and was praised by genre fans and critics alike. The horror flick has a few gory moments, but in principal it is more shocking on a psychological level. Back then Aster reported that his original version ran for 3 hours. As mentioned in the news, he finally removed about 30 scenes to tighten up the story. This gave the film a stronger horror impact while it was more focussed on drama before. According to Aster the longer original version was "too meditative" for the audience it was intended for.
With this success on his shoulders, Aster's next project Midsommar was highly anticipated in 2019. Again psycho-horror is in the foreground, in surreal and quiet shots strange traditions take on more and more bizarre forms when a few American students visit Sweden. And again Aster commented around the theatrical release in July that he personally would have preferred a longer version. The first cut with a duration of ~ 225 minutes was shortened to a 147 minute long version for the cinemas, which the director would have liked to run for at least 25 minutes longer. But again he described his work as more "accessible" for the audience in the shorter form and therefore stressed that his Director's Cut, which was already hinted at that time, would not necessarily be the "better" version.
On September 24 the movie was first released as VOD in the USA and since October 08 it's available on Blu-ray. And here, curiously enough exclusively as streaming offer on iTunes, this time the promise of a 25 minutes longer version was kept. As a bonus to the cinema version Apple buyers also get the Director's Cut in digital form, which, as already mentioned, is not necessarily the version "recommended" by Aster itself. In the following weeks, international home cinema announcements accumulated and it quickly became clear that the film would also be released on Blu-ray in Director's Cut in many countries outside the USA.
As important release dates it can be stated that the Brits are the first ones to receive a Blu-ray with the Director's Cut (and the theatrical cut) on 28.10.2019. The Italian release on 13.11.2019 can also be emphasized, because so far only here buyers get a physical 4K UHD release of the film - in the theatrical cut, while the Director's Cut is included as a Blu-ray. The movie was shot in native 8K and finished as 4K DI (according to IMDb), so you can expect a real added value from the UHD presentation in this case. At least digitally, the cinema version is still available here and there in UHD (e.g. on Amazon.com Prime Video), but as 4K Blu-ray only the Italians seem to be able to enjoy it. German buyers will only get both versions far later in a limited mediabook release on 07.02.2020.
The Director's Cut of MIDSOMMAR
What was discussed a lot at first and naturally increased the interest of many genre fans were small additions in gory or nude scenes. In fact, one can see here another lateral shot with the injured leg after the senicide. The finale also has a few additional shots of Christian's ritual sexual act. But in both cases, it doesn't really seem that these moments had to go for the American MPA(A) rating. Nevertheless, for genre fans these adjustments may be welcome . Bloody-Disgusting by the way mentioned the shot where you see blood on Christian's penis. But this is also available in identical form in the theatrical cut.
Pretty noticeable are stronger character traits, which are only hinted at in the cinema version. Christian now behaves much more disrespectfully towards Dani. He already describes her involuntary invitation as a failed romantic surprise and in a longer argument he also gives some manipulative comments. Most audience will surely dislike him more in the Director's Cut. His conflict with the ambitious Josh is initiated earlier and also the third one in the group, Mark (Will Poulter), is allowed to give more of his crude comments. All in all, no essential moments, but a bit more "on the nose" than in the theatrical cut. Whether that's good or bad, everyone has to decide for himself.
An especially long extension is an additional ritual in the middle of the movie, in which a child is almost drowned in a lake. This, too, is probably a bit ambivalent: On the one hand the scene is quite intense, on the other hand it slows down the flow of the plot a bit at this moment. The whole thing serves above all as an introduction to the argument between Christian and Dani mentioned in the previous section. In turn they reconcile in another additional scene shortly afterwards. All in all, the ritual segment is not too spectacular and it's quite understandable why the cinema version has cut this out for time reasons.
Besides that, one finds the usual smaller trims, which are not really worth mentioning further in most cases. There are many long and quiet shots, which are often simply played out longer here. A few sound adjustments in the form of changed or even completely deleted comments in the Director's Cut are a bit more special. Some probably didn't seem to be necessary anymore, also because other extended scenes play them out more detailed anyway.
All in all, both versions have their charm. However, we can recommend to first watch the theatrical version. If this is not to your liking, you probably won't enjoy the Director's Cut at all. The few deviations that could be done out of censorship reasons are basically not worth mentioning and most of all the longer version only reinforces atmospheric aspects, which are also present in the cinema version in the first place. As already commented by Aster on its predecessor film Hereditary, the Director's Cut after all is simply a more meditative version of the same movie.
Runtimes are ordered as follows:
Theatrical Cut VOD / Unrated VOD
At least on the American VOD version the theatrical cut has an additional logo at the beginning.
+ 9.5 sec
14:11-14:15 / 14:02-14:06
An alternative take in which Josh talks a bit more in the theatrical cut: "I'm doing my research on European midsummer traditions, these guys are just tagging along."
No time difference
18:06-18:07 / 17:56-19:29
In the Theatrical Cut the shot of Christian and Dani is a little longer.
In the Director's Cut Dani instead starts to apologize again in detail for her behavior and is close to tears. Christian sits down, waits for a moment and says that he wanted to ask her to join. Dani is a bit annoyed now and assumes that he does this only because of her emotional outburst. Christian explains that he actually wanted to be romantic. She looks a bit perplexed.
Director's Cut 91.4 sec (= 1:31 min) longer
22:05-22:07 / 23:27-23:29
The comment to the first photos shown on the mobile phone was changed.
Theatrical Cut: "Yeah, we're taught the Runic alphabet, so..."
Director's Cut: "Yeah. It's our special little language."
24:07-24:09 / 25:29-25:31
A comment from Mark, who can't be seen here in the picture, was removed from the DC after the comment about beautiful Swedish girls: "Christian, you can write your thesis on that."
24:14 / 25:33-27:32
The car journey is much longer and most of the time you only see the thoughtful Dani. At the beginning Mark talks about a (fake) video in which a woman with three clitoris can be seen. In between Dani gets a birthday message from Amy and notices a book about the secret Nazi language of the Uthark on Josh's lap.
She speaks to him about it and Pelle comments that he is probably only doing this to get on his nerves. Josh replies that after all his thesis is about the Midsommar traditions. Then Dani asks Christian about his topic and he says that he hasn't found it yet - but he has something "Scandinavian" in mind. Thereupon she jokingly comments to Pelle that he probably brainwashed them all and he answers that at least Josh was already brainwashed when he "found" him.
115.5 sec (= 1:56 min)
24:37 / 27:55-27:56
The follow-up shot (car upside down) is a moment longer.
40:57 / 44:15-47:26
After the words "Spirits! Back to the death!" there is another part of the ritual to see. Meat is put into a fireplace and Pelle explains that it is their job to keep this fire for years. Everybody is sitting devoutly in a circle and finally a man gets up to sing something. When he is finished, everyone is allowed to eat some of the plate in front of them. Christian asks if they were praying here and Pelle paraphrases that it is more about harmony and balance. Our protagonists are confused and ask Pelle if he could give them a translation of the priest's words later.
190,6 sec (= 3:11 min)
42:15 / 48:44-48:50
After Simon & Connie gave each other a kiss, you can see Dani looking over to them here. Ingemar also looks at them.
47:36 / 54:11-54:17
Josh notes some signs from the walls in his notebook.
50:55-51:07 / 57:36-58:02
In the Theatrical cut, the scene ends with a pan shot over the painting.
The Director's Cut instead shows an alternative take of it, where the camera movement starts a bit further down, but then also runs much faster. In addition, Dani turns around again in surprise and sees a woman getting up and quickly walking out with the man standing in the room. She remains confused.
Director's Cut 13.5 sec longer
54:24 / 61:19-61:39
The shot of the girls at the table is a little longer. Then Mark tells Josh that the one girl would stare at him again.
54:55-55:16 / 62:10-63:06
In the Director's Cut the woman can be seen standing earlier and she first speaks a few words. In between the guys are showing several times. She starts to hum and the old man gets up to join in. Mark fools around how the man would probably behave if he pops his finger up his bum now.
In the Theatrical Cut you can already see the two of them standing there humming together. A few close-ups follow after this shot.
Director's Cut 35.7 sec longer
59:26-59:37 / 67:16-67:38
In the Theatrical Cut the old woman closes the book in a long shot and turns around.
The Director's Cut instead shows a first shot from the same perspective with the book still open and then two close-ups of the book and her.
Director's Cut 10.8 sec longer
60:13 / 68:14-68:31
The bloodstained tablet can be seen a little longer. Then the DC also shows the long shot in which the book is closed (slightly extended).
63:02 / 71:20
Before the man jumps, the DC starts a few irrelevant frames earlier.
63:24 / 71:42-71:45
Another shot from the side with the torn off leg.