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FARGO ($30) is a wonderful character study and intriguing crime drama from the Coen brothers, which received numerous accolades when it was released theatrically. In fact, FARGO received seven Academy Award nominations, including one for best picture. Frances McDormand won an Academy Award for her performance as a very pregnant small town sheriff who is investigating a multiple murder, which leads her to a kidnapping gone horribly wrong. William H. Macy received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the desperate car salesman who arranges for his wife’s kidnapping. Joel and Ethan Coen’s Academy Award winning screenplay is at times stark and brutal like the winter landscape of Minnesota, but it is also poignant and amusing. The brothers Coen have created a film with such a realistic feeling, and fully fleshed out characters, that at times it seems as if one were watching a documentary. In addition to McDormand and Macy, the cast of FARGO includes Steve Buscemi, Harve Presnell, Peter Stormare, Kristin Rudrud and John Carroll Lynch.

Polygram Video offers both Letterboxed and pan and scan versions of FARGO on opposing sides of the DVD. The pan and scan version is unsatisfying, since it does crop the sides of the image somewhat, letting characters disappear into oblivion. Still, the cropped version does have a respectable level of detail, as well as natural looking colors. The Letterboxed transfer presents FARGO in its proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, restoring what is cropped off the sides of the pan and scan version. The Letterboxed transfer looks quite good. The image is crisply focused and well defined. The colors have good saturation and contrast nicely against the bleak white backdrops of winter. Digital compression artifacts were usually unnoticeable on either the Letterbox or pan and scan versions.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is two channel stereo, so the matrixed Dolby Surround is the default for this presentation. The Dolby Surround mix offers more by way of ambiance and atmosphere, than full-blown directional effects. The subdued mix is well suited to the film and does not draw attention to itself. Other soundtrack options include a French language track. Subtitles are available in Spanish.

The interactive menus feature access to cast and filmmaker biographies/filmographies.

FARGO is a real gem of a motion picture and this DVD is about the best way to own it.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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