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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anti-Noir?
In this 1996 masterpiece, a complex tale of murder and kidnapping in snowy Minnesota, the Coen brothers find themselves in similar terrain to that explored in their debut feature film "Blood Simple". Both films are brilliantly constructed studies of criminal behavior spiraling out of control, but whereas "Blood Simple" stayed true to the rules of film noir, "Fargo" turns...
Published on 26 Nov 2003 by C. Graham

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great film awful Bluray transfer
I love this film and have had it for years on DVD but when I saw the Bluray version for 5 I just had to have it. Watched it using my Panasonic 50 inch Plasma with Panasonic Bluray player. Both are five star products with proven performance. The disc was the worst transfer I have ever seen, the artefacts are awful, particularly in the snow scenes when "noise" is...
Published 11 months ago by The Edge Digital Photography


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anti-Noir?, 26 Nov 2003
By 
C. Graham (Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fargo [1996] [DVD] (DVD)
In this 1996 masterpiece, a complex tale of murder and kidnapping in snowy Minnesota, the Coen brothers find themselves in similar terrain to that explored in their debut feature film "Blood Simple". Both films are brilliantly constructed studies of criminal behavior spiraling out of control, but whereas "Blood Simple" stayed true to the rules of film noir, "Fargo" turns the genre on its head, resulting in a truly unique film-going experience.
The most obvious example of Fargo's subversion of the genre to which it loosely belongs must be the use of Minnesota's stark, snow covered landscape in setting the mood of the piece. Some truly stunning cinematography, combined with a haunting score, produce a backdrop to the film which is undeniably bleak, but also oddly beautiful. The Coen brothers populate this landscape with a host of memorable characters, most noticeably Brainerd's heavily pregnant police chief, Marge Gunderson (played to perfection by Francis McDormand). No hard-boiled copper here, the Coens again toy with convention by imbuing the character of Marge with warmth, humanity and optimism. It is she who must untangle the web of deceit created by desperate car salesman Gerry Lundegaard (the excellant William H Macy) and the incompetent hoods he has hired to do his dirty work (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stromare), and ultimately it is Marge who provides the moral counterpoint to the movies amoral plot.
In conclusion, Fargo was one of the greatest American films of the 1990's, well deserving of it's two Oscars and required viewing for anyone who considers themselves to be a true fan of cinema.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 16 April 2006
By 
David Welsh (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This was the Coen Brothers' breakthrough film, and again demonstrates the brothers' mastery of the art of filmmaking, particularly the genre film. In Fargo, they have turned to the thriller and produced an exemplary film with a perfectly structured plot and some incredible performances from actors such as William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and Frances McDormand (who won an Oscar for her role.) This is a real masterpiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fargo, 16 Dec 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Fargo [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
A devastating comedy thriller about a car salesman who is so desperate to escape his debts that he hires two thugs to kidnap his wife and collect the ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. When the scheme backfires, the local police chief, a slow talking, smart thinking, pregnant housewife - brilliantly portrayed by McDormand - investigates the killings. Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, this original crime story is written and directed with the verve, painstaking nuance and outrageously black humour that have become the mainstay of a Coen movie.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fargo Goes Far Beyond Your Average Black Comedy, 18 Mar 2007
By 
Clare Byrne "Byrnie91" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
To many good film fanatics the assurance of William H Macy and Frances McDormand is normally enough to ensure a night in with the dvd player but for those who aren't familiar with the actors or the fantastic directorial work of the Coen Brothers this is going to convert you.

Quirky?! Yes its Coen Brothers work here.. but also hilarious Macy and McDormand stun in their Scandinavian lilts as a small town couple who are not so traditional. Steve Buscemi also shines and even though the language isn't exactly subtle the film is riddled with hilarious dark humour from beginning to end and is well worth watching for anyone who likes a bit of offbeat genius!
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, great features, 2 May 2003
By turns funny, chilling, gripping and moving, this is a film that I would recommend to anyone. Coen Brothers fans will already be aware of their unique approach to movie-making, but for those who are wondering what the fuss is all about, watch this film. Everything is excellent - the photography is beautiful, the music haunting and the performances...!! William H. Macy's desperate car salesman is a peach and Frances McDormand judges her part to perfection. As you'll guess, I cannot say how much I enjoy this film, but the real beauty of it is that it's a great story, well told. It will keep you watching and make you want to watch it again to catch all the bits you missed the first time round ... then you'll watch it again just for the sheer enjoyment of it!
PLUS the DVD has good extras - a trivia feature that is interesting and funny and an excellent commentary track. Do buy this DVD - you won't be disappointed!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars **********BLU-RAY REVIEW*********, 7 Aug 2011
By 
The usual suspect (2nd aisle on the right, top shelf) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fargo [Blu-ray] [1996] (Blu-ray)
Fargo is a Coen classic that no matter how many times I watch it, gives me a wince and a laugh. Frances McDormand is her usual excellent self although you could argue that her characters are always the same.

If you're a newcomer to the Coen catalogue put Fargo prettyy close to the top of your wishlist. It's the Coen's doing what they do best, short and sweet excellent story telling. It does bug me that they put 'Based on a true story' at the start, just to get us talking about it. A bit of boy who cried wolf going on...

The blu-ray transfer is very so-so. Most of the time, it's very grainy but the colours are enhanced. I didn't notice anything different with the audio - there's not much for HD audio to work with. Is it better than the DVD? Marginally but given it's such a low price it's just about worth the upgrade.

Languages on disc: English DTS HD master & Stereo; Castillian Spanish 5.1 DTS; Brazillian Portugese 5.1 DTS; French (Parisian) 5.1 DTS; French (Quebecous) 5.1 DTS; German; Italian; Latin Spanish;

Subs on disc: Loads! Castillian text and commentary; Brazillian Portugese, Cantonese; Croatian; Czech; Dutch text and commentary; French (Parisian & Quebecois); German text and commentary; Greek; Hebrew; Hungarian; Italian text and commentary; Korean; Latin Spanish; Mandarin; Polish; Potugese; Thai; Turkish

NOTE: The packaging says that there are Japanese language and subtitles available but they are NOT on the disc.

Region Free
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Siberia With Family Restaurants..." - Fargo on BLU RAY (2014 Remaster vs The 2009 Standard Issue), 11 Jun 2009
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fargo [Blu-ray] [1996] (Blu-ray)
Rewatching The Coen Brother's "Fargo" on Blu Ray is an odd experience - a bit like the 1996 film itself. But much to your viewing pleasure you're also going to find that it's still just as entertaining, as wildly funny and as truly repulsive as you remember it.

But first to the 2014 remaster which is little short of an absolute sensation in terms of upgrade (the reissue is part of MGM's 90th Anniversary celebrations). The previous incarnation from 2009 was lamentable for about 50% to 75% of the time (lots of 1-star reviews and rightly so) - but this approved remaster massively elevates and cleans up almost every scene. And even when natural grain is swarming on the print - it still looks fabulously clear. Take the scene when the two kidnappers (Buscemi and Stormare) are driving at night with a woman in a shower curtain wrap in the back seat of a stolen car. A state trooper unwisely stops them and the silent psycho Gaear Grimsrud (Swedish actor Peter Stormare) shoots him in the head. Even in the darkness of the car interior - you can see red lipstick on both the actor's lips...

The lone Special Feature on the 2009 BLU RAY of a Feature Length Commentary by cameraman and photographer ROGER DEAKINS has now been supplemented with a very informative and funny featurette called "Minnesota Nice". It's about the shoot (title above), the casting of the actors and the impossible politeness of the people who live in Dakota (where its often minus-20 in the shade). According to Joel and Ethan Coen the local people's built-in niceness and polite manner makes them perfect psycho-killer material. There are superb interviews with actors Frances McDormand, William H. Macy (auditioned 3 times), Peter Stormare (who missed out on Miller's Crossing) and Steve Buscemi talking about just how precise the Coens are when it comes to script. None of the hiccups and pauses, back peddling on lines, stuttering sentences - none of it is ad-libbed - they scripted the lot.

Speaking of genius...the casting is inspired. A young Steve Buscemi plays the mouthy-but-non-violent Carl ("That's a fountain of conversation man...") while Peter Stormare plays Gaear - the blond Swede who is silent and merciless when he kills - spending most of the time with a freshly-lit cigarette permanently hanging out of his mouth. They act as a perfect foil to the bumbling William H. Macy character Jerry Lundegaard - a car salesman whose fiddling the license plates - so he stupidly masterminds the kidnapping of his wife in an insurance fraud to pay off mounting debt. Macy is simply astonishing in Fargo - so brilliant that mere adjectives fail me.

But he's matched in subtlety and wit by Frances McDormand who plays the lovely, decent and upbeat highway copper Marge - pottering about in her huge comfy coat saying "Ya" and "Jeez" all the time. Marge is pregnant - chomping away on burgers and huge meals to keep her advanced pregnancy stoked up...while threatening to barf in the snow as she examines car crashes and murders. John Carroll Lynch is quietly superb too as her ordinary but solid husband Norm - the pair of them offering solace for the audience - a beacon of normality as opposed to the blood on the snow and ice.

As it always is with the Coens - the dialogue is full of repetition and ball-breakingly funny lines "(This execution type deal...") - the story packed with slightly oddball Dakota characters surely drawn from real life and the violence is arbitrary and a lot more ugly than you remember it. Even the opening assertion that "This Is A True Story " from 1987 is a lie (they made it all up). You have to love the Coens - you really do.

If you have any affection for this grotesque, compelling and strangely human film - then the new 2014 Blu Ray - with its improved depiction of a sheet of paper attached to Steve Buscemi's gunshot cheek - is a first-class buy. And that look on Marge's face at the end as she tries to comprehend what psycho Gaear (Stormare) in the back seat did to his partner in the famous woodchopper scene - is priceless.

"You want your own wife kidnapped!" Carl says in amazement in the King Of Clubs bar at the beginning of the film when they're carving out the evil deed.

Nominated for Seven Oscars - get on your Snow Plough for this one. You betcha!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous idiots make a mess in Minnesota, 26 Dec 2006
A harmless prat hires a couple of malefactors to kidnap his wife. He bears her no ill-will - it just seems like a good way to get some money for a business project out of his rich, tight-fisted father-in-law. Nobody is meant to get hurt. The half-dozen or so deaths just seem to happen by bad luck, temporary loss of self-control, stupidity etc. It could all have gone quite smoothly but instead, one thing lead to another and it turned into one of those unfortunate murder-escalators. Something similar happened in that other excellent Coen film: The Man Who Wasn't There.

The Coen brothers' films press all the right buttons for me. I really enjoyed this film and watched it through twice in two days. The music was the first thing that grabbed me, then the bleak winter landscape with nothing but flat white snow in every direction. Perhaps the fact that I watched it at Christmas, mourning the fact that it's not a white Christmas and may never be white again in my life-time, added to my enjoyment of this chilling scene. The actors did a fine job. Steve Buscemi sometimes plays a good character and sometimes a bad but, a bit like Brian Blessed's characters, they all come out very similar (which doesn't detract from them at all because they're all very entertaining). Here he's a bad man and his bad partner is played by Peter Stormare. I've only seen Peter Stormare playing bad characters and again, they're all very similar. He does a very convincing laconic psycho. Frances McDormand, on the other hand, who plays the police chief in this film, always plays very different characters. Here, she's a steady, quietly clever, unpretentious, heavily-pregnant lady who interprets the clues and tracks down the foul felons with minimal fuss. Without the least hint of slapstick, it's grimly funny. A lot of the smiles depend on a sort of affectionate mickey-take of the fastidiously polite folk of Minnesota and their interesting accent. It's where the Coen brothers hail from apparently, so they'd know the vulnerable spots to tickle.

Not everybody shares the Coen sense of humour. It's a bit dark. If you do share it, you should enjoy this film.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An abrasiive piece of writing that declaares all known facts, 11 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fargo [1996] [DVD] (DVD)
With no major stars or well-known names, the actors outshine many more familiar personages. The story is well thought out. The criminals don't try to ingratiate themselves with the audience which adds to its reality. The acting is most convincing and the writing is excellent. Even the cold of a North Dakota winter [ass monkey gherkin]comes across. Every film course should make use of this movie to demonstrate how to make a very good film without relying on a bottomless budget.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fargo, 22 Nov 2003
Easily up there with 'The Big Lebowski' as one of the Coen brothers' best films, Fargo was nominated for seven Oscars, and deservedly so. The plot follows the mishaps of executive car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (Macy), who is so deep in debt that he formulates a plan to have his wife kidnapped by two thugs in a cunning scheme to have his wealthy father-in-law pay the ransom. Unfortunately for Jerry, he doesn't anticipate that one of the thugs is a psycho or that seven-month pregnant Police Chief Marge (McDormand), when she isn't eating, will do anything to solve the case.
The film is fantastic in everyway. The script and dialogue are absolutely awe-inspiring, and the performances from everyone are superb (especially McDormand who scooped the best actress oscar for her role). It's almost impossible to forget the brilliant wood-chipper scene at the end, a moment of pure comic-genius. A combination of mystery, dark humour, suspense and horror make this a movie that everyone should see, and that can be watched time and time again. You betcha, yah.
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Fargo [VHS] [1996]
Fargo [VHS] [1996] by Joel Coen (VHS Tape - 2001)
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