by Jake Mulligan
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Apr 10, 2014

It's a common talking point people bring up all the time, and it was raised constantly when "Inside Llewyn Davis" came out last December: The Coen brothers don't like their characters, they say, they plague their audiences with punishing narratives, they say, they stand tall above their creations, mocking the people they write about, they say. For all people who believe that the Coens are nihilists, I point to "Fargo" as refutation of their theory. "Fargo" is ostensibly a crime procedural, watching Frances McDormand's Marge Gunderson -- a pregnant, small-town police officer - crack the case of a kidnapped wife. But it's really the Coen brother's offering viewers a glimmer of hope among their oeuvre otherwise full of failure and decay. Marge is a shimmering beam of light among an otherwise dim humanity, she cuts through the bullshit of the criminals who surround her, she completes her casework out of unquestioned moral obligation. She's a good person, who behaves by her ethics, and who improves the world around her for it -- she's proof that the Coen brothers believe in such a concept. She's proof that they aren't nihilists.

The extras included on the disc don't deal with the Coens so much, actually -- surprisingly enough, they revolve around cinematographer Roger Deakins instead (he's shot most of the Coen's films, as well as "Skyfall," Scorsese's "Kundun," and much more.) The disc contains a full audio commentary with Deakins, who goes into great depth about the lighting of the film, the overwhelming use of the color white, and all other visual aspects of the picture. An article from American Cinematographer detailing Deakin's work is also included on the disc, as is a trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Marge Gunderson, and "Fargo" - recently released onto Blu-ray - stand as proof that the Coen brothers aren’t nihilists.

If you already own a copy of "Fargo" on home video, you're probably getting a feeling of déjà vu: indeed, these special features have all already been featured on multiple releases of the film (they've already appeared on a DVD, an individually released Blu-ray, and a Blu-ray included inside a Coen Brothers box set, at least.) What this disc adds to the previously released Blu-ray is a new, remastered transfer of the movie. Only hardcore technophiles will feel the need to upgrade from the last release, but they will indeed notice a difference: the white of the snow here is whiter than ever before, the constant use of fog denser and not quite as pixilated on previous release, the noble details on Marge Gunderson's face come through all the more clear. It's finally fitting that all the extra features revolves around Deakins, because this remastered visual presentation makes his artistic contribution to the film all the more apparent.



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