Fargo – A True False Story

Recently, Noah Hawley had the brillant idea to adapt the Cohen brothers’ Fargo into a TV show, so let’s go back to 1996, when one of their best feature saw the light of sun.


What is great with the Cohen brothers, is that they always find the exact position the camera should have for each frame, their technique is compelling and allows the spectator to fall into the world, country, season chosen. Therefore in Fargo, you feel cold when the characters go out in the snow. In the scene where Carl (Steve Buscemi) bleed from a rough cut in the face, his hands in the snow, you feel the freezing wind bumbling his pale face, and red bloody hands, digging into this white infinite blanket.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 7.00.13

Along with his shot reverse shot adding cleverness to the movie, Ethan Cohen who directed the movie (while Joel produced it) made some pretty interesting choices with his background designs. He often used a shiny object behind or in front of each actor speaking, and used action/static scenes, with for example a car rolling in a parking lot, or a men walking to his isolated car surrounded by snow. And from that, extracted a real contrast between interior and exterior; the first on being warm, comforting, cosy, and the other cold, desert and threatening.

Fotor0718171424Fotor071817445But let’s dig into the story, say who’s that Carl I mentioned and explain a little bit better what’s going on in the little city of Brainerd which seemed to have its nice routine with no fuss.

It all started with the crazy, ridiculous idea of Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy), a car sales man who wants money. He is so detached from his family, and has so little moral, that he decides, through a suspicious mechanic he knows, to contact criminals Carl and Gaear (Peter Stormare) so that they kidnap his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrüd), and share the ransom that would be payed by his rich father-in-law, Wade (Harve Presnell). “Expand your social network” they say.

Alright so, from that point our compulsive liar, Jerry, put all his faith in becoming rich in the hands of two pathetic thugs, who, from lack of knowledge and organization, will spread a little blood on Brainerd’s white snow.
Two Little Thumbs, leaving behind them drops of blood, allowing pregnant police chief Marge (Frances McDormand), to track them down pretty quickly. Indeed she gathers information in a small amount of time; she knows one is taller than the other, she knows they’re not from her town, and she knows that they’re driving a Ciera (provided to them by Jerry).
Also she has an accent, uses the word “ya” really ofter, is happily married, has morning sicknesses and then appetite for junk food, and is extremely calm and confident. We like her.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.31.47 Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 11.37.02 Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.53.33The movie is all about sequences, chains, from one character to the other, until it creates a loop that eventually closes. This is perfectly illustrated in those two shots where in the first one a black car is coming to the Ciera, and in the second one the Ciera is leaving the black car and its dead owner.

Fotor0718182841This chain of situations makes the movie full of suspense and super exciting, its fun with a darker side, that provokes a conflict among our feelings; should we be disturbed, should we laugh? Absurdity makes it hard to take side.

Fargo has all the elements of a great movie, the two brothers did an excellent job putting all that together, and giving birth to a real masterpiece.

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