Fargo Blu-ray Review

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: ‘Fargo’ on Blogcritics.

unnamedI have been a fan of Ethan and Joel Coen’s movies since I saw Raising Arizona, in the nineteen-eighties. The 1996 Academy Award winning film, Fargo is one of my all-time favorite movies, though a couple of their films populate my top ten. The movie marks the brothers’ return to their home state of Minnesota, though not all Minnesotans appreciated their portrayal. Between the dialect caricature and the film’s opening credits claim that it was based on a true story, there are plenty of people that felt more than a bit slighted by the film.

Fargo is the story of a Minnesota car salesman played expertly by William H. Macy, who is desperate for money.  He comes up with a plan to extort money from his wealthy father-in-law and boss by staging his wife’s kidnapping. He is connected to a couple of thugs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare,) but when he has second thoughts, things get terribly out of hand.  The net began to close in on the three when Police Chief Marge (Frances McDormand) takes the case.  As relatively low budget film, Fargo follows the players around in the snow almost like a docudrama.

Almost 20 years since its release, 20th Century Fox has now released a remastered edition of the iconic film. Though it has been remastered, many will have a hard time noticing the differences between this release and the previous one.  The source film is grainy, which is particularly noticeable in the lighter snow scenes. Considering the directors had to move production out of Minnesota to capture even more of the white stuff, snow is in a majority of the scenes.  Close comparison will reveal some reduction in the amount of ghosting that older version suffered from, but many will have hard time referring to the transfer as high definition.

Unfortunately, there are no new special features in this remastered edition of Fargo either.  The most notable extra is the half hour documentary Minnesota Nice, unfortunately not filmed in HD.  It includes interviews with the main cast, the Coen brothers and Director of Photography Roger Deakins. The majority of the screen time is devoted to William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, and the Coen brothers, though Steve Buscemi and Peter Stomare share some interesting history. Also included are an audio commentary track, a trivia track, an “American Cinematographer” article, photo gallery, and a couple of trailers.

Packaged with the original theatrical release poster as cover art, a single blu-ray disc is all that is contained in this edition of Fargo.  Like previous editions, the film is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio throughout its runtime of 98 minutes.  As mentioned before, the improvements are a little tough to pick out.  Instead of Dolby TruHD, this remastered edition offers DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and various Dolby offerings in English, Spanish and French. The audio is still a bit front heavy, but remember, this was a low budget film. If you don’t already have Fargo on blu-ray, this is probably the version to own, but it’s not an essential upgrade.

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