PERFORMING ARTS

A Lot Can Happen in the Middle of Nowhere: The Untold Story of the Making of Fargo

Minnesota Historical Society. Mar. 2021. 232p. ISBN 9781681341880. pap. $18.95. FILM
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With this impeccably researched book, Minneapolis-based reporter and podcaster Melby (The Drunk Projectionist) celebrates the 25th anniversary of Fargo. Ethan and Joel Coen’s darkly hilarious film about a kidnapping gone awry in the desolate, snowy Midwest. The author explores the challenges of location scouting (a lack of snow in Minneapolis forced filming to take place further north, mainly in Grand Forks, ND) and the brilliant Coen brothers’ unusual writing process. Melby procured multiple drafts of the script and interviewed actors cast in the movie as well as those who didn’t make the cut; a stuntwoman who for one dramatic scene took a dive down the stairs wrapped in a shower curtain; crew members (including the lucky one who got to keep the famous wood chipper used in the film’s gory climax); and the dialect coach and set decorator, whose work brought the Coens' version of Brainerd, MN, to life. An especially captivating section explores the Coens’ fascination with kidnapping, along with the stories that might have inspired the crimes portrayed in Fargo.
VERDICT Much like the movie it dissects, this book is quirky and intelligent, with surprising revelations. A treat for cinephiles and fans of the Coen brothers.
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