Fargo: Special Edition/Gold Edition (1995)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 17-Jun-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Minnesota Nice
Featurette-Interview with the Coen Brothers
Informational Subtitles-Trivia Track
Notes-The Coen Brothers Family Tree
Theatrical Trailer-2
TV Spots
Notes-American Cinematographer Article
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 94:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joel Coen

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring William H. Macy
Frances McDormand
Steve Buscemi
Peter Stormare
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Carter Burwell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
English Information
French Information
Spanish Information
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Fargo is the quintessential Coen Brothers film for me, combining all their unmistakeable wit, dialogue and quirky humour. If a friend tells me they've never seen a Coen Brothers film, this is the one I lend them without hesitation.

    Car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is desperate for a large amount of quick cash to finance a business idea. After being turned down by all possible sources he hatches a plan to have his wife kidnapped, forcing his well-to-do in-laws to cough up the money he requires. Some very bad judgement on the part of the hired kidnappers puts the plan in jeopardy, and Jerry's father-in-law insists on dealing with the kidnappers personally, with the intention of taking his daughter back with force. Local sheriff Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) begins investigating some strange murders on the outskirts of the town, leading her to Jerry's car dealership just as his brilliantly engineered plan is crumbling around him.

    One of Fargo's strongest points is its performances, with an excellent ensemble of actors. The accents and demeanour of Minnesota are brilliantly brought to the screen, in fact until I viewed the companion documentary on this disc I didn't realise how spot-on the exaggerated accents are. Frances McDormand earned an Oscar for her role in this film, and William H. Macy received a nomination in the Best Actor category. Equally brilliant are the performances of the kidnappers, played by a unusually talkative Steve Buscemi and a very psychopathic Peter Stormare.

    The cinematography by Roger Deakins is sublime, managing to draw the viewer into this strange and almost unbelievable set of circumstances. Roger himself has also received many Oscar nominations, all of which are outlined in the extensive extras on this disc.

    I'm hesitant to talk further about the plot of the film, for fear of spoiling its magic. Suffice it to say that if you are yet to experience a Coen Brothers film, this is a must see. If you are already a fan of this film, this is the DVD you have been waiting for!

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is surprisingly good.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The level of sharpness is superb, with plenty of detail evident. Shadow detail is excellent, particularly in the darker scenes of the film where blacks are refreshingly solid and detailed objects can be seen in the shadows. There is no low level noise apparent.

    This film is not known for its bright, abundant colours. According to the commentary it was a conscious production decision to make certain scenes of this film very monotonal, as is also mentioned in the extra material. No colour inconsistencies or bleeding were noted in the transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Some very minor aliasing was present at some points, for example on a car at 72:47, but was not overly distracting. You would think that a film set predominately in the snow would lend itself to many ugly film artefact problems, but this is not the case. Film artefacts were present in the film in the form of tiny black and white specks (31:28), but not to any great extent. The most dominating and distracting artefact that I noted was a large black spot over Marge's face at 79:12. Altogether, I would not rate these artefacts as highly degrading to the transfer.

    A veritable truckload of subtitles are available, ranging from plain old English and English for the Hearing Impaired to French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Greek, Croatian, Czech and Hungarian. The English subtitles seemed more accurate to the spoken word than the Hearing Impaired subtitles, which skipped quite a bit of dialogue when I sampled them.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change placed surprisingly late in the film between Chapters 24 and 25, at 70:28. The picture fades to black at this scene transition, however there is some ambient audio that is briefly interrupted. This is much more preferable to the Region 1 release, which requires you to flip the disc over halfway through the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This audio transfer is more than adequate for a dialogue based film such as this.

    There are four audio tracks on offer, the intended language English in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and two dubbed soundtracks; French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). An  English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (224Kb/s) is also included. I listened to the English track and the audio commentary in their entirety, and briefly sampled the other two languages.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand in all the various audio tracks, and was commonly panned into the front centre channel, regardless of the placement of the source on screen. Audio sync was never a problem during this transfer.

    The film's score is credited to Carter Burwell  and brilliantly encapsulates the mood of the film, lending many great, dramatic crescendos to the right scenes. It is very well mixed with the rest of the soundtrack and is never overpowering at all.

    Surround activity is quite minimal. Some music is spilled into the rears during the opening credits, and the odd ambient sound effect pops up in the rear channels now and then. Although this is not by any means an aggressive audio transfer, I felt that it certainly did the film justice, considering its age and very low budget.

    Subwoofer response was confined only to a few brief moments in the score, accentuating the lower ranges of the orchestrations.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is a great selection of interesting extras available here.


    All the menus are 16x9 enhanced, available in English, French or Spanish and are themed around the cold, snowy feel of the movie. Most contain an audio clip from the movie and animation, including the scene selection menu.

Audio Commentary- Roger Deakins (Cinematographer)

    A mildly interesting commentary, Deakins discusses the various locations that were used in the film, and gives some interesting insights into the Coen Brothers' collaboration. There are many long pauses that seem to stretch forever, and Deakins repeats himself sometimes ad nauseam. The audio is Dolby surround-encoded, with English, French and Spanish subtitles optional. Personally, I found the trivia track much more entertaining and informative.

Featurette- Minnesota Nice (27:46)

    Recently produced for this DVD, this serves as a great retrospective on the film and features input from some of the starring actors and the Cohen Brothers themselves, discussing the nature of their collaboration and the exceptional films they have created in their career. This documentary also reveals that (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) the script was not based on a true story at all, being merely a test from the Cohen Brothers to see what they could get away with. It is presented in 1.33:1, full frame with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette- Interview with the Coen Brothers & Frances McDormand (20:30)

    This is an interview conducted by American critic Charlie Rose around the time of the film's initial release. Particularly interesting is the fact that at this point the Coen Brothers were (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) selling the film as being based on a true story. Originally made for television, it is presented in 1.33:1, full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Informational Subtitles-Trivia Track

    This is one of the best trivia tracks I have ever watched, with an amazingly broad range of facts, some of them hilarious, and a colourful presentation. I actually preferred it to Roger Deakins' droning commentary track, as it provides some very similar information, and then some. It is also available in French and Spanish.

Notes-The Coen Brothers Family Tree

    Nicely animated and 16x9 enhanced, this covers twenty five of the regularly appearing Coen-preferred actors, detailing each Coen Brothers film they have appeared in and the roles they played.

Theatrical Trailers (2)

    Presented in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced, these trailers run for approximately two minutes each and outline the movie well, without divulging any major plot spoilers.

TV Spot

    A quick thirty second commercial that basically shows the film's quirkiest moments. It is presented in 1.33:1, full frame.

Notes- American Cinematographer Article

    A very extensive article written by Chris Probst of American Cinematographer magazine. Over forty pages in length, it focuses on the Coen Brothers preferred cinematographer Roger Deakins and features some great production photographs and storyboards. Some interesting detail is also given about his equipment of choice, and various techniques he likes to employ while in production.

Photo Gallery (20)

    A good selection of photos taken during production, presented with 16x9 enhancement.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 Polygram release in 1997 was a non-16x9 enhanced flipper disc (DVD10), with Dolby surround encoded audio. The extras consisted of cast and crew bios and English and French subtitles.

    The Region 1 MGM release in 2000 was a slight improvement, offering 16x9 enhancement, but still on a DVD10 that included a full frame version on the other side, and a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Extras were limited to a trailer, booklet and French and Spanish subtitles.

    Our Region 4 release is identical to the Region 2, and clearly beats both of the previous Region 1 releases hands down, thanks to an abundance of extras and RSDL formatting. Make mine the Region 4!


    Fargo is one of my favourite Coen Brothers films, and I am thrilled to see it get such a wonderful release in Region 4. Maybe we'll see a similar special edition for The Big Lebowski one day?

    The video quality is very good, though with a few minor artefacts.

    The audio transfer is more than sufficient for a dialogue based film such as this.

    There is a great selection of interesting extras available.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Amy F
The DVD Bits - Shane A
AllZone4DVD - Wayne F
Web Wombat - James A

Comments (Add)
MGM 2000 R1 not a flipper - REPLY POSTED
New R1 Release - Same as R4 - Downtown
Millers Crossing et al - wolfgirv
Nasty Hair - seraphic06 REPLY POSTED
hairs and such -
Possible video encoding glitch at 34:17 -
Audio Glitch - REPLY POSTED
Original R4 "Fargo" vs new R4 "Fargo: SE" - Bran (my bio, or something very like it) REPLY POSTED
Reguarding the audio glitch -
sorry I was wrong -
Special Editions aren't always special editions -
Sunset Boulevard is my favourite disc with extras on ! - NewcastleBoy (read my bio)
"The Big Lebowski" now on DVD, but ...can u help -
RE: Big Lebowski Ratio Question - NewcastleBoy (read my bio)
Discovery that Big Lebowski has two options on Disc -
Special Editions ! -
re:Special Editions - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Special Edtions -
Most likely will - rob_da_bank (I'm not ready for a bio Lois)
Still available - wolfgirv