Exclusive: Read Martin Scorsese's introduction to Ari Aster's Midsommar
The Irishman director penned a new introduction for a special collector's edition Blu-ray of Aster's Midsommar director's cut. In the essay, Scorsese praises the young filmmaker for his "formal control" of cinematic technique and storytelling, citing both Midsommar and Aster's debut feature Hereditary.
"A couple of years ago, I watched a first film called Hereditary by a director named Ari Aster. Right from the start, I was impressed," Scorsese writes. "Here was a young filmmaker that obviously knew cinema. The formal control, the precision of the framing and the movement within the frame, the pacing of the action, the sound — it was all there, immediately evident."
Scorsese has complimented Aster before, name-checking him in a New York Times op-ed alongside such acclaimed auteurs as Claire Denis and Spike Lee, and praising Hereditary during a New York Film Festival Q&A last year.
“That’s a remarkable film,” Scorsese said of Hereditary at the Q&A. "I try to watch films, and it's very hard, sometimes, to be able to find the time. And when you do, something that stands out is amazing. And this did. I was really electrified."
A24's Midsommar director's cut Blu-ray is available for purchase now. You can read Scorsese's full introduction below.
I like watching older movies I’ve never seen. I like revisiting the ones I have seen. I like watching new movies. And I love discovering the work of filmmakers that aren’t known to me, particularly younger filmmakers that are just starting out.
What am I looking for? I’m looking for people with a need to express something. “I need you to experience this…” Not an idea or a theme as much as a whole experience, or a recollection, or a profound emotional impression from which the ideas and the themes emerge organically, so to speak. It’s difficult to put into words for a reason: because it can be expressed in moving images and sounds — in other words, cinema.
A couple of years ago, I watched a first film called Hereditary by a director named Ari Aster. Right from the start, I was impressed. Here was a young filmmaker that obviously knew cinema. The formal control, the precision of the framing and the movement within the frame, the pacing of the action, the sound — it was all there, immediately evident.
But as the picture went on, it started to affect me in different ways. It became disturbing to the point of being uncomfortably so, particularly during the remarkable family dinner scene after the sister has been killed.
Like all memorable horror films, it tunnels deep into something unnameable and unspeakable, and the violence is as emotional as it is physical.
Obviously, I was looking forward to Midsommar, which sounded like it was going to be made on a more ambitious scale — shot in a foreign country, bigger cast, slightly bigger budget. Sometimes, in particular cases that I can remember, a relatively successful first picture has led to a more expensive but less impressive second feature. More money sometimes means the possibility of more interference and anxiety and eagerness to please, making the picture less concentrated and more diffuse.
So, I started watching Midsommar, and very early on, I knew that this was not going to be the case.
I don’t want to give away anything about this picture, because you need to discover it for yourself. I can tell you that the formal control is just as impressive as that of Hereditary, maybe more so, and that it digs into emotions that are just as real and deeply uncomfortable as the ones shared between the characters in the earlier picture. I can also tell you that there are true visions in this picture, particularly in the final stretch, that you are not likely to forget. I certainly haven’t.