[Film Studies] Fargo, and the Role of Setting

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  • Topic: Coen brothers, Minnesota, Fargo
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  • Published : November 15, 2011
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Film Analysis Paper
HU-489-001
5/4/2011
Fargo, and the role of Setting
Fargo, a dark and somewhat humorous crime movie by the Coen Brothers delves into themes of isolation, morality, and greed. And throughout the film, a very prominent role is played by the setting. The Coen brothers make sure that no one misses where the story takes place – small town upper Midwest in the middle of a frigid winter. The film makes extensive use of the frozen landscape, the characterization of rural Midwesterners, and realistic depiction of the events of the story in order to emphasize these themes. There is a great deal of contrast in this movie between moral and amoral characters as well as contrast between what the viewer expects from such dark subject matter and how it is in fact presented. The very first shot of the film is of a barren grey snowscape as a car in the distance slowly approaches. The setting is immediately present and it sets up a feeling of a cold and emotionless environment. This car appears very small on the screen and slowly approaches the camera. So very early this feeling of isolation is brought into the film. The car appears small and alone in a desolate world. It gradually moves toward the screen as we are introduced to the beginning of the story. This is actually the main antagonist, Jerry Lundegaard as he tows a new car to make a deal with two criminals to kidnap his wife. This cold landscape represents well the dark intentions of this character. As the movie goes on, it becomes more obvious this character’s detachment and isolation from the rest of the world. The viewer becomes aware that Jerry is in need of a great deal of money and was attempting to get it from his wealthy father-in-law. His first attempt is to get a loan from his father-in-law for a real estate deal. When that deal falls through, there is a shot of Jerry walking back to his car, defeated. At this point (about 0:21:30 into the movie), there is a top-down view of an empty,...
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