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Fargo: Remastered (1996) - Blu-ray Review

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Fargo - Blu-ray Review

5 stars

Norm son-of-a-Gunderson! Another re-release?

Fargo, the 1996 Coen Brothers black comedy of down-to-earth Minnesota crime, gets remastered in its latest blu-ray release.   This is the film that granted The Coens (Joel directs; Ethan produces; both handle screenplay duties) Main Street Hollywood access and a wider general audience, don’t cha know. Perfectly sprinkled with brilliant performances and a nuanced script with murder on its mind, MGM is including Fargo as part of its 90th Anniversary celebration with this re-release.

In this snowbound (Thank you, Donald Fagen) film noir, an attempt to get some extra cash goes wrong when a schmuck of a car salesman named Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy in an excellent performance) hires two greasy thugs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom. He’s in over his head with financial debt and needs some extra money. This is his idea to get some more. The plan is to let his otherwise couldn’t-be-bothered father-in-law (Harve Presnell) dish out the money, get his wife back, and pocket the extra above what the two hoods cost for their dirty business.

Unfortunately, they get stopped by the police on their way out of town and, when they botch an attempt at bribery, kill the police officer who pulled them over. Now, we have a dead body on our hands and, with the rising of the sun, so to enters the wise but uber uncool rural chief of police, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand). The film absolutely adores her. You will, too.

As much fun as the script has with Marge’s dialogue, events turn pretty grisly quick. Director of photography Roger Deakins has his camera opening the movie with blinding white snow as a pair of headlights cut through it but this picture is anything but innocent. And soon enough the color of blood will be splayed out across the snow.

The speed of the film is hypnotic as it turns comedy into tension and then delivers some smart investigation.

Because this film has been released previously on blu-ray, I’m going to shift the review to the technical upgrade. Is it worth another purchase? Indeed, it is. Finally, the picture is punctuated correctly with good levels throughout. The "middle of nowhere" has never looked better in this new edition, now remastered for the best high-definition picture yet. The previous version had flickering problems on the edge of the picture. This one is clean and the white of the snow doesn’t burn through the screen.

Fargo: Remastered belongs on your shelf or your digital library. Oh, ya betcha, yah!

Fargo - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and sexuality
Runtime:
98 mins
Director
: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writer:
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast:
William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi
Genre
: Comedy | Crime
Tagline:
Fargo
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou."
Distributor:
Gramercy Pictures
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/Fargo
Release Date:
April 5, 1996
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 1, 2014
Synopsis: Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Fargo - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 1, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Thai, Turkish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kbps); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; German: DTS 5.1; Italian: DTS 5.1; Japanese: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Hungarian: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Region A

Is it worth another purchase? Indeed, it is. Finally, the picture is punctuated correctly with good levels throughout. The "middle of nowhere" has never looked better in this new edition, now remastered for the best high-definition picture yet. The previous version had flickering problems on the edge of the picture. This one is clean and the white of the snow doesn’t burn through the screen. 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.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The audio track by cinematographer Roger Deakins is simply fascinating. It’s not new by any means but is essential.

Special Features:

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 a trivia track, an “American Cinematographer” article, photo gallery, and a couple of trailers.

  • Minnesota Nice (30 min)
  • Trivia Nice
  • Article from American Cinematographer
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Photo Gallery

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