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'Fargo'

A Quirky Nightmare

Fargo, a film directed by the Coen Brothers, is an interesting look into the daily happenings of a Fargo salesman named Jerry Lundegaard. Those daily happenings turn into an interesting batch of fraud, murder, and crime. The film—although technically about these things—is really a character study of the very interesting personalities in the film.

Cinematic Bleakness

The scenes in Fargo pass by at a mundane rate, but for some odd reason you cannot peel your eyes away. Every scene adds more and more onto the building tension in the film. The scene above depicts this very clearly. The conversation in this scene is so straightforward. The Coen Brothers clearly researched the personality of this region very thoroughly as the people in the film are so unapologetically Minnesotans. They talk about the weather as though the below freezing temperatures are normal, and a colder front could even be a thing. The people in this movie talk as though everything they are talking about is boring, yet the film at it's heart is a murder mystery.

Examining this topic from such a specific region is unlike anything that has been done in movies before. Murder movies are generally set in an unidentified region of the world, in which the personalities add little to the actual plot. In Fargo, the people's personalities are on the forefront, and the murder is used to add onto these ideas.

Framing

The cinematographer of Fargo originally storyboarded the film to include static, non-moving shots—a feat of which would be impossible as you have to have movement in a movie, but by approaching the movie in this way, it became a tool to make the framing of each shot very deliberate. Framing in Fargo is of the upmost importance. Framing in the film depicts the relationship of the characters in Fargo better than most films. The importance of a character to a scene is almost directly related to there importance in the composition of a shot. The Coen Brothers are well known to use this technique in their films, but in Fargo, the stillness of scenes makes it extremely apparent. The only characters in the film that are shot in doubles are Marg and Norm. This is a very important feature of the film because it establishes a connection between them—an unspoken romance. As a contrast, Jerry and his wife are always shot in two shots, and when they are shown in the same shot, his wife is usually blurred and in the background clearly depicting his lack of interest in his wife. The camera is used in Fargo as a tool of observation. Rather than quickly panning and moving the camera, the camera simply stays in place and watches the action happen from a distance.

The Road Scenes

Some of the most amazing shots in the movie took place on this barren strip of road located, presumably, right outside the town of Fargo. The opening scene begins on this road, the scene in which the two bad guys kill a cop, two innocent civilians are, too, and the road happens to be where a lump sum of cash is buried as well. In each of these scenes, the road provides a different symbol of loneliness and emptiness. I think the barren feel of the road plays into the scenes that take place here, which was specifically why the Coen Brothers chose it.

Marg's character is very interesting. From the start, you can tell that she is not some important figure to the police department. She is simply another cop, but as you begin to observe her and pick up on her skill for solving crime, you begin to respect her much more. As the other cops around her fumble with the details, she expertly follows the bread crumbs left behind and tracks down the bad guys with ease. She sees through the other characters and gets to the bottom of things. Her character is very respectable. That respect was earned through the course of the film.

In Brief

The Coen Brothers used the camera in Fargo as a tool of observation and the movie flies by your eyes. Almost like a slideshow, each scene depicts something for your brain to analyze and you subconsciously decide what it all means. By the end, you are left with a batch of complicated feelings towards the characters in the movie, and I think that's what the film wanted.