[Film Studies] Fargo, and the Role of Setting

1304 words 6 pages
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
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The viewer can tell there’s a difference in characterization from the very beginning, when a very passive aggressive Jerry meets with these two shady characters who are very blunt with their points. These two obviously do not belong in the setting of the friendly small-town Midwest. Finally, the film is portrayed with a strong sense of realism. The movie begins by displaying the text “This is a true story,” and it is evident that the directors attempted to depict the story in such a way that really highlights this realistic mindset. Mundane everyday life is portrayed throughout the movie, even those that seem inconsequential to the plot. This works to help relate with the characters and maintain a sense of realism as the plot advances. For example, Jerry’s wife has a discussion with their son about grades and him trying out for the hockey team. While the film never touches upon this again, it helps ground the characters and create a contrast since the audience knows that Jerry has just returned from plotting his wife’s kidnapping.
Lighting and sound effects are kept very minimal and simplistic. Despite the film’s very dark content, very high key, low contrast lighting is used throughout the film. Although many films in the film-noir genre will like to have a lot of shadow and high contrast to emphasize the darkness in the plot, Fargo stresses the realism. Most scenes take place out in the open during the day, where natural light is prevalent, and therefore creates

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