Marge Gunderson

“This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson
Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson

In fact, it isn’t a true story. That’s the charm of Fargo. Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen added the disclaimer in hopes viewers would be more willing to suspend their belief of the events of the story. The film is about a kidnapping gone awry in the cold climes of Minnesota and the police officer, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who breaks the case.

Unassuming but tenacious, Marge, this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday feature, has a way with catching criminals. Unlike other officers of the law, her language contains a generous helping of “there in a jiff”, “time to shove off” and “thanks a bunch.” When watching her work for the first time, one cannot help but notice the simple-minded feel she projects while she investigates a murder scene. Make no mistake; her quirky exterior hides her razor-sharp ability to see through lies and discover the truth.

Marge Gunderson
Marge Gunderson

In the midst of this, her husband provides her support by visiting her at the station. “I brought you some lunch, Margie,” he says. They talk about his painting. Only, she’s the one providing support after he reveals their neighbors may have a better painting for an art exhibition. Marge, the trooper that she is, says, “You’re better than them.” Which he quickly answers, “They’re real good.” She shoots down his insecurities, “They’re good, Norm, but you’re better than them.”

Punctuated by episodes of an ordinary life, Marge handles every clue to the mystery with the same instincts a bloodhound would use to track its prey. Layer upon layer, she puts it all together as if it were a challenging puzzle ready for the final piece.

When she meets with anyone posing as a threat to her investigation, she focuses her aim on pointed questions, never deviating from her prepared script. One of the best lines in the movie is the one she utters after the man she’s investigating uses the word “darn”—as in “I answered the darn…I’m cooperating here.” To which she replies:

“Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me. I’m just doing my job here.”

And when it’s all over and done with. When there’re no more criminals to catch. Marge talks of the futility in chasing after a little bit of money. In terms of her simple life, she can’t understand what compels anyone from destroying other people’s lives in order to attain that “little bit of money.”

Which begs the question: Why can’t we all just get along?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you seen Fargo? What did you think of Marge?

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25 thoughts on “Marge Gunderson

  1. Love Fargo – I heard tell that FX is going to run a new series on Fargo and that my very favorite Hobbit, Martin Freeman, is going to be in it. Between this and the Outlander series on Starz, I thin I may need to get cable!

  2. I had a need for someone to come up to my property to do some chipping this week. Every time there is work to do with the chipper I get a broad smile from Marge’s pointed question: “Is that your friend in the chipper there?” Great post.

  3. Fargo, the city, is just weird enough to love the movie. I went up there to visit my niece, and she took us to the visitors’ center, where they have the wood chipper from the movie. You can pose for pictures shoving your friends and relatives into the chipper. 🙂

  4. The thing I remember about this movie is my husband’s over loud exclamation “You talk just like HER!” To which I responded “Well, don’ cha know? My dad was from Minnesota and my mom was from Michigan.” Needless to say, I loved this movie, even before my husband’s exuberance 😀
    Leslie

  5. An excellent film – I have watched it a few times. Did you hear about the poor Japanese fan that went to Fargo to find the buried ransom? She was found frozen in a short skirt – not even dressed up for the weather. Maybe that’s the sign of a good film, or just too believable?

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