Study Guide

Fargo Visions of the North Country

Visions of the North Country

One of the main things that makes Fargo unique is its setting. If it had been set in L.A. or New York, it might've been a somewhat more typical crime drama. But the fact that it's set in an out-of-the-way area, like small-town Minnesota (though Minneapolis isn't quite so small), helps make it more unsettling.

It changes everything—the way the characters talk, the way they relate to each other, the things they value, and… did we mention the way they talk? It helps make the whole texture and vibe of the movie genuinely different. The Minnesota accents constantly remind us where we are.

Questions About Visions of the North Country

  1. Does Fargo portray Minnesota (and North Dakota, since that's where Jerry goes briefly at the beginning) in a positive or negative light? Some mixture of the two?
  2. How would the movie have been different if it had been set in a more typical location for a crime drama—like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago?
  3. Is the movie condescending towards people from Minnesota? How would you feel about if you were from there (or if you are from there)?
  4. Is the movie's version of Minnesota all that different from other parts of America? What are some of the contrasts and similarities you can think of?

Chew on This

The film suggests that "Minnesota nice" is just a screen for fear and resentment bubbling below the surface.

The image of Marge and Norm cozying up in bed is the film's antidote for the cold and barren landscape outside.

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