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

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

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

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


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Go behind the scenes of this classic nineties film from cinematic masters Joel and Ethan Coen. Yah, you betcha, you’re gonna discover some fascinating tidbits to celebrate the film’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

The 1996 movie Fargo stirred widespread curiosity about snowy winters, funny accents, and bloody mayhem on the frozen tundra of Minnesota and North Dakota. The film won two Academy Awards and inspired a popular, award-winning television series. It is also a quintessentially Minnesota film—or is it?

A Lot Can Happen in the Middle of Nowhere presents the untold stories behind the making of Joel and Ethan Coen's most memorable film. It explores the behind-the-scenes creative moments that made Fargo a critical and cultural success, including casting struggles, the battles over dialect, production challenges (a lack of snow), and insights from the screenplay and deleted scenes. Author Todd Melby examines to what extent the story was inspired by true events (as the film claims), and whether the Coens are trustworthy narrators of their own story. In addition to biographical details about the Coen Brothers, the book reveals what Fargo says about Minnesota and the Midwest.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681341880
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Publication date: 03/02/2021
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 684,644
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Todd Melby is a reporter, documentarian, and filmmaker. In 2016, he co-produced "We Don’t Talk Like That: Fargo and the Midwest Psyche," a one-hour radio documentary about the movie. "Black Gold Boom", his public media series on North Dakota’s oil boom, featured stories of hope and despair. "Spirit and Body Willing: Sex Over Age 70" and "Death’s Footprint", radio documentaries he co-produced with Diane Richard, won national Edward R. Murrow awards. He lives in Minneapolis.

William H. Macy played the role of Jerry Lundegaard in the 1997 film production of Fargo, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His acting career spans four decades and includes appearances in dozens of films and television programs. Macy has won four Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards, in addition to numerous other nominations.

Read an Excerpt

The Coens didn't film Fargo in North Dakota's largest city. The plan was to film Minneapolis scenes in Minneapolis and its suburbs, many of the locations not far from Joel and Ethan's childhood home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The prairie on the edge of the suburbs, on the outskirts of places like Chaska and Eden Prairie, would serve as stand-ins for rural highways prowled by Marge Gunderson, the pregnant heroine of the film. However, in early 1995, Minneapolis lacked snow. So the Coens caravanned to Grand Forks, North Dakota, bunked at the Holiday Inn, and made excursions to Minnesota and North Dakota landscapes near the Canadian border so Fargo would look like Fargo.

Table of Contents

Foreword William H. Macy vii

Preface ix

1 Homey and Exotic: Writing Fargo 1

2 This Is a True Story: The Five Words That Changed Fargo 25

3 I'll Shoot Your Dog: Fargo Auditions 43

4 Dancing in Your Mouth: Dialect and Preproduction 63

5 Unblemished White: Shooting Begins 85

6 Fran Used to Have a Car Like This: Shooting Continues, But Inside 113

7 Vast, Flat Countryside: Shooting Outdoors 141

8 Vost-Fargo Fargo: Reviews, Awards, and the Chipper's New Home 163

Timeline 179

Where Are They Now 183

Endnotes 187

Bibliography 197

Index 205

About the Author 217

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