Study Guide

Fargo Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

Fargo is full of things that are a little off—strange bizarro gags; juxtapositions of incredibly different images and events; unlikely scenarios. The whole movie involves a kidnapping plan that spirals off into absurdity, culminating with a grotesque, yet somehow bizarrely amusing sequence, in which Carl's corpse gets stuffed into a wood chipper.

There are tons of odd moments like that (Gaear, a murderer, wanting to eat pancakes for breakfast and lunch; a pregnant chief of police, Mike Yanagita) and together they create an image of a very random and unexpected universe. Maybe it's not totally random—there's still justice in it, since all the bad guys get their just desserts. But it definitely feels off.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

  1. Which character seems to most fully inhabit an absurd world? Is there anything absurd about Marge's life?
  2. Is there ultimately any kind of moral order to the universe depicted in Fargo? Or is it basically chaotic?
  3. Are some of the more bizarre scenes actually so bizarre? Could it be that they're actually realistic, but just not familiar? Although it seems absurdly funny to see Carl and Gaear watching the "Tonight Show" in bed with the hookers after sex, wouldn't this be something they'd likely do in a seedy motel with nothing else to do?

Chew on This

The film's moral is that there's no explaining life or people. Things fall apart, people do inexplicable stuff, and all you can do is hang on for dear life.

If it weren't for the character of Marge, the absurdity would get out of hand and the movie would slide off the rails.

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