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Lights, Camera, Fargo

1/25/2016:

Filming was just underway on this date in 1995 for Joel and Ethan Coen’s movie “Fargo.” The crime drama released in 1996 is often pointed to as Fargo and North Dakota’s first pop culture reference even though the film’s story had little to do with the city.

A stammering car salesman hires two crooks from Fargo to kidnap his wife for ransom money to be paid by her wealthy father. The plan goes badly wrong as bodies pile up and a pregnant police chief closes in on the criminals.

Despite a story based in Minnesota, several scenes were shot near Bathgate in northeastern North Dakota. This was necessary due to a lack of snow, with Minnesota experiencing its second mildest winter on record. The film crew came to North Dakota “at the eleventh hour,” wrote a Coen Brothers biographer. They erected a Brainerd welcome sign and a 25-foot Paul Bunyan statue on Pembina County Road 1.

As Joel Coen explained, “The landscape up there is even flatter and more bleak than it is around Minneapolis. So, in a sense we got more interesting exteriors than we might have otherwise.”

“Fargo” became a cult classic with its characters’ outrageous accents and darkly humorous story. Actress Frances McDormand won the Oscar for Best Actress, and the film was entered into the National Film Registry in 2006. And the wood chipper in the film’s well-known body disposal scene? It’s on display at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Fervor around “Fargo” storytelling has continued, 20 years after the film’s debut, with writer Noah Hawley creating a same-name crime drama for FX. In its first two seasons, the series featured more unlikely murders and crime sprees, including a 22-person massacre in downtown Fargo. The series’ third season will premiere on FX in 2017.

Dakota Datebook written by Jack Dura

Sources

"http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116282/business" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116282/business

Robson, E. (2011). Coen brothers – Virgin film. London: Random House. Retrieved from: "https://books.google.com/books?id=PFs83yglo8YC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false" https://books.google.com/books?id=PFs83yglo8YC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

"http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/fargo/episodes" http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/fargo/episodes

://fargomoorhead.org/things-details.html?id=650