Fargo is a film in which a unique attitude of the residents in the Midwest has been portrayed, who are typically not faced with violent crimes. The concept of the film is based on the investigation of a small police department into three violent murders in rural Minnesota. The characters depicted in the film comport themselves with an apathetic and careless attitudes towards the events that take place in the film.
The plot of the film seems to revolve around the antagonist, Jerry Lundegaard's greed and its consequences. Not only does the plot of the film try to explain the point of action that characters tend to take but also “provides escape from the boredom and drabness of everyday life, so the action is exciting and fast paced” (Boggs and Petrie 20). Throughout Fargo, no change seems to occur in the daily lives of the people, yet viewers are able to break from their ‘normal’ routines and experience suspense within the film as a result of a kidnapping and the three homicides that take place. However, some characters, such as the antagonist Jerry Lundegaard, do not break from their routines. Even after devising an entire plot to have his wife kidnapped, he still goes to work and manages the car dealership where he works after committing the crime.
Viewers become aware and gain a sense of the greed that Jerry possesses when he begins talking with the kidnappers. Theme accommodates more aspects with the unraveling of Jerry’s plot. One aspect is the emphasis on Marge, the police chief, and her reactions to the whole case. Despite being the Chief of Police and the main offices, she apparently does not take the incidence of the three homicides to heart. Although Marge’s role in the film is not truly comedic, she seems to have a delicate way of providing the viewers with a sense of humor. The emphasis on Marge gives the viewers an opportunity to understand the development of her character and the things that set her apart from other characters (Boggs and Petrie 21). Marge is depicted as a simple woman, who does her job and happily returns home at night to spend time with her husband. What sets her apart from ordinary people is the fact that a kidnapping and triple murder a town would most likely stress anyone out. However, for Marge, it was just another day.
Apart from picking the picking the right actors and actresses to play the roles of the characters in their film, the Coen brothers also seem to have an extremely unique style. The direction and production of the film makes this style quite apparent. Perhaps the most important style is the Coen brothers’ preference for extreme violence. There were many deaths throughout Fargo; some were related to the story, while others seem to be put in as filler. Nonetheless, by forcing characters to cover the mistakes they make and with the murders that are taking place, the Coen brothers succeed at wrapping the viewers in how twisted the plot of the film ultimately becomes.
Another aspect of the Coen brothers’ style of directing can be seen in the common camera angles used by them in the film. Throughout the film, the camera takes an almost panoramically wide angle. For instance, after Jerry losses his opportunity to invest in a parking lot, the angle of the camera shows the whole empty parking lot from his car. Not only do the viewers see the magnitude of the parking lot he wanted to invest it, but they also get to share the loneliness that Jerry feels. At this point, the camera takes a high angle reaching Jerry’s actual level, “dwarfing” him and “diminish [his] importance: (Boggs and Petrie 150). Therefore, with no one there to truly help him with his problems, Jerry realizes that he and even his family has ended up in is because of his own greed and this “dwarfs” or suppresses his inner turmoil.
The Coen brothers also make great use of long shots in the film as well. For instance, a long stretch of highway is shown when Marge arrives at the scene where one of the kidnappers is feeding the others dead body into a wood chipper. The highway seems as if it goes on forever. The bleakness and the vastness of Minnesota in the winter have been excellently portrayed by the Coen brothers in the film. The Coen brothers even use a long shot in the opening montage of the film. “In one sustained long shot, [the car] is completely dwarfed by the boundless prairie flatness” (Toles 275), and this makes the car seem almost when compared to the landscape.
Ultimately, the state that Fargo makes is that even ordinary people are faced with troubled times. The film conveys the message that situations that may be considered the worst, resorting to violence as a means to escape leads to no good. The depths and genuineness of human nature have also been portrayed in the film. When people in the world get greedy and ruthless, things always tend to get foiled and there is always someone there to counteract them.
Boggs, Joseph M., and Dennis W. Petrie. The Art Of Watching Films. 7th. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill College, 2008. Print.
Coen, Joel, dir. Fargo. Writ. Coen Ethan. Gramercy Pictures, 1996. Film. 10 Sep 2013.
Toles, George E.. "Obvious Mysteries in Fargo." Trans. Array A House Made of Light: Essays on the Art of Film. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001. 275. Print.