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Kyomara 10-09-2002 02:26 AM

FARGO: significance (if any) of Mike Yanagita
In the movie Fargo, when Chief Marge goes down to Mineapolis to work on her homicide case, she meets up with an old acquaintance from high school, Mike Yanagita.

I watched this movie again recently and wondered if there was any significance to his appearance that I was just missing. I know the Cohen brothers often throw extra scenes in for fun, but on the off chance that I'm overlooking something, I'd like to hear what you guys think.

Jeff 10-09-2002 03:18 AM

IIRC, I read or heard a comment attributed to the Cohens, the jist of it being that they kept the scene because it showed several aspects of Marge's character quite well.

Quite likely there's more than that, too. Personally, I think that scene grounds the film nicely, and even acts as a microcosm of the reality in which Fargo's story unfolds. Think: in any other movie that scene would've turned out much differently, with sexual tension or high drama, nostalgic reflections of days-gone-by or what-not. Instead it is dealt with in a very subdued, even bleak fashion; the poor bastard just breaks down crying. The same goes for the film's central kidnapping plot, characters, even the portrayal of violence; they are by turns shocking and pitiful, but never larger-than-life. They don't exist in the standard movie "reality".

Just my opinion. Great, great film.

RealityChuck 10-09-2002 07:39 AM

It's been pointed out that Mike is somewhat of a keystone of the plot.

He has that scene with Marge when he sounds so sincere about being in love with her. Later, she finds out he was lying, and she immediately goes back to talk to Jerry, who had sounded so sincere when she had questioned him before.

kingpengvin 10-09-2002 07:50 AM

I'm not sure if one has to do with the other. She seems to have an epiphany when driving home and returns to ask Jerry one more question. If she had been suspicious she would not have let him walk out of the room and escape.

Kaitlyn 10-09-2002 09:48 AM

The two scenes may not be directly linked in the plot, but as RealityChuck points out, their structure and theme are very similar. The scene with Mike foreshadows the subsequent scene with Jerry.

Think about Of Mice and Men. Early in the story, the old man's dog is so old and sick that it needs to be put down for its own sake. The old man lets one of the ranch hands take the dog out and shoot it. This sets up the pivotal final scene in the book and movie, which has a very similar structure and theme, but with much greater consequences.

The same thing is happening in Fargo. The scene with Mike, which is relatively innocuous, helps to give the scene with Jerry that follows, which has much more serious consequences, more power.

It's also a motif of the movie: Interviews that conlude in unexpected ways.

Kaitlyn 10-09-2002 09:58 AM

The two scenes may not be directly linked in the plot, but as RealityChuck points out, their structure and theme are very similar. The scene with Mike foreshadows the subsequent scene with Jerry.

Think about Of Mice and Men. Early in the story, the old man's dog is so old and sick that it needs to be put down for its own sake. The old man lets one of the ranch hands take the dog out and shoot it. This sets up the pivotal final scene in the book and movie, which has a very similar structure and theme, but with much greater consequences.

The same thing is happening in Fargo. The scene with Mike, which is relatively innocuous, helps to give the scene with Jerry that follows, which has much more serious consequences, more power.

It's also a motif of the movie: Interviews that conlude in unexpected ways.


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