Fargo: A Screenplay Analysis
Posted by Jennine Lanouette on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Fargo is a great example of a theme-driven film. While there is much cat-and-mouse plot maneuvering, there is no plot payoff at the end with six people dead and a family in ruins. As for character transformation, what sympathy we may have had for Jerry Lundegaard dissipates once we see the folly of his plan. So we’re not all that interested in seeing if he changes or not. We then become invested in Marge Gunderson’s search for the killers, but she is not particularly affected by the outcome other than a resigned “What’s it all for?” Where we see progression in the story of Fargo is in our understanding of the world we live in. What started out sounding like a harmless caper out of a Hardy Boys novel in the end reveals a brutal picture of greed and violence. Through the film’s thematic progression from blind innocence to unhindered violence, we are not being shown that the world itself has changed—the violent nature is present from the beginning—but our understanding of the world becomes significantly transformed.
I’ve written about this film elsewhere on this site. For a more detailed discussion on Fargo’s thematic elements, see High Ideals: Changing the World with Your Theme-driven Screenplay.
You can watch Fargo on the following Video On Demand websites: