Fargo's primary star to me, beyond the ineffable Frances McDormand, is the score.

Carter Burwell's score during the opening credits still gives me chills. It sounds rural at first, slight and down home, as warm and inviting to the viewer as the snow blasted landscape you're viewing during the credits is not.

Shortly after the credits begin, you see a car driving into the scene from far away, and the music begins to swell into an ominous and dramatic crescendo (which contains the scariest sounding sleigh bells ...) that completely shatters any illusions of quiet rural life for the viewer. The score serves during this sequence to tell you that EVENTS are gonna happen during this film. And the viewer sucks it up.

The Coen Brothers also are playing a very big joke on you with Fargo. They say at the beginning of the movie that the events which are depicted are based on truth. They ain't, except in the most vague of ways. The movie is manipulative, meant to make you view the human condition as tragic and petty, and if the viewer feels that the events up onscreen really happened, then so much the better. The score for the movie feeds right into that ... making you feel all the emotions the Coens want you to feel at the times they want you to feel them.

Only a skilled composer, or perhaps a brash one, could come up with a musical score to equal the manipulation being exerted by Fargo's visual elements. Burwell falls into both categories to me, and he's since become one of my favorite movie score composers as a result. His work illustrates to me how much more fun a movie can be when the music is as much an actor as the actors themselves, and the viewer is willing to let him or herself be taken for a ride.

OK, so we got a trooper pulls someone over, we got a shooting, these folks drive by,
there's a high-speed pursuit, ends here and then this execution-type deal.

Our local cinema has a students' night every tuesday, where old classics are pulled out of their dusty cupboards for a review... This weeks movie was...


... And considering that didn't have a proper writeup as of so far - here goes nothing ...

In short

Fargo is one of the Coen Brothers' works. That automatically means odd humour, and this film is no less strange than, say, the big lebowski. Fargo, on the other hand, has a far larger degree of criticism to society built into it than Lebowski does.

Plot synopsis

In Fargo, Jerry Lundegaard is a car dealer who is short on money, and decides to have two hoodlums kidnap his wife, so his wife's rich daddy will shell out the ransom. Things go terribly wrong, and in a little Minnesota mountain village, and the kidnappers kill two kids and a police officer.

Carl (Steve Buchemi - you know, the short guy. Kinda funnylooking), and Gaear (Peter Stormare), the two kidnappers, turn out not having much in common, and quite some memorable situations occur as the pair do the kidnapping and subsequently decide to keep all the money to themselves.

Why the movie is worth watching

If you have a taste for black humour "I don't want more fuckin' pancakes, man. I want to go somewhere I can get a shot and a beer, and a steak, maybe. Hey, I know this place outside Brainerd where we can get laid." - "Look, I'm fucking hungry now, you know." - "O.K., we'll go get some fucking pancakes and then get laid", and you like other Coen Brothers movies, chances are that you will like this one as well.

A good dose of satire on the police system, ruthlessly making fun of Northern American rural life, and teenage hookers. This movie is probably deeply insulting if you belong to either of the mentioned groups - but even if you do, it is worth a few good laughs :)



Even compared to other Coen Brothers movies, Fargo is a unique and amazing film that juggles elements of social commentary, emotional drama and dark humor. As such, it's entirely appropriate that Fargo is the movie that came with the most amazing, utterly unique, pack-in merchandising in its home video edition. I am speaking of the Mona Lisa of cult movie memorabilia - the Fargo Snowglobes.

Fantasy and horror movies are often released in Special Collector's Director's Cut Extended Cult DVD editions with some pretty nifty merchandising designed to appeal to the geeks who adore these movies above and beyond the norm (a group in which yours truly is a proud and happy member). The pack-in pieces range from T-shirts, art books and "Making Of..." DVDs to more special items like the BPRD belt buckle from Hellboy II or the tribute CD of industrial music that came with Tetsuo.

The Fargo Snowglobes, however, are the ultimate, the apotheosis of merchandising pack-ins, easily wiping the floor with most of your cheesy horror tie-ins and beating even the handsome Gandalf and Bilbo bookends of the Fellowship of the Ring and, yes, even the Re-Animation Serum Syringe Pen from the Millennium Edition of Re-Animator.

Packaged with the Special Edition VHS copies of Fargo back in 1997, there are two snowglobes, each depicting a scene from the movie. The first one shows Marge investigating the crime scene that opens the movie. The second, which is obviously the one to get if you have a choice, is the woodchipper scene, depicted in all its gory detail with a mixture of white and red snowflakes.

I repeat, RED SNOWFLAKES. It's pure genius. The red snowflakes really make the whole room come together, to borrow a phrase from another Coen Bros work.

Not surprisingly, these little desk ornaments can now cost over $60 on E-bay, but you can actually still find them in shops sometimes for $30 including a free VHS copy of the movie!

Which, of course, you will give to a friend because you already have the Coen Brothers' complete body of work on DVD. You do, don't you?

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