Ethan Coens Essay Introduction To The Screenplay Fargo

Even though the Coen brothers made a name out of themselves in the indie circles with a series of praised movies such as Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink, their fifth film was a major financial flop. Ethan and Joel Coen made The Hudsucker Proxy, a smart and typically strange comedy with Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman. With a budget of 25 million dollars, it was a serious blow when the box office outcome gave them back only a tenth of the invested funds. This was a delicate time for the filmmaking brothers, as they had reached a specific point in their career where the next project would most likely be the deciding one. It’s no surprise that their associate William Preston Robertson, as he acknowledged in his book ‘The Big Lebowski: The Making of a Coen Brothers Film,’ panicked when he read the screenplay for Fargo, the film Joel and Ethan wanted to do next. “It’s the weirdest, most bizarre, most inaccessible of all of the things you’ve written,” he commented, advising strongly against what he saw as the definite career suicide. But Fargo, the humorous dark comedy we have all gotten to love in the years since, turned out to be a huge commercial and critical success, opening the doors of mainstream America for the two brothers whose unique authorial voice had been perceived too unapproachable for the average film lover. It’s easy to see what made the audience fall in love with this movie: Fargo features a very, very dark story set in the cold and dark Minnesota, the authors’ homeland. It’s a story of murder, blackmail, kidnapping; a bloody account of deceit, lying, cheating and amorality. But it’s also a narrative filled with humor and warmth, channeled for the most part through the unforgettable character of Marge Gunderson and, to a lesser degree, her benign husband Norm. Ms. Gunderson, the police officer who tries to decipher the monstrous events unfolding around her, is the emotional and moral center of the story, the anchor in the overwhelming storm of wrongdoings that engulfs the small town unused to big-city-corruption and abomination. Played by the marvelous Frances McDormand, Marge rightfully entered the pantheon of the most distinguished film characters of all time, but Fargo doesn’t stand on her shoulders alone. Written by Ethan and Joel, this is a very entertaining, funny, stylish movie further enhanced by the great Roger Deakins’ cinematography, where the general bleakness of landscape and morality are effectively penetrated by lively splashes of ominous red, and Carter Burwell’s beautiful score. What should also be noted is that Fargo is a typical Coen film in both the thematical and stylistic aspects, and as such served as the stepping stone of the general audience in their entry into the world of one of the most distinguishable filmmaking forces of contemporary cinema.

Besides McDormand, Fargo showcased serious acting talents in several career-defining roles, such as Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Peter Stormare and Harve Presnell. A big commercial hit in the United States, Fargo experienced almost uniformly enthusiastic response from the critics when it came out in March 1996. It was nominated for no less than seven Academy Awards, winning in the Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay categories, while Joel Coen received the BAFTA David Lean Award and the Cannes Film Festival Award for directing. How much it resonated within the film-appreciating community can be also seen in the fact it was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as early as in 2006. The influence of Fargo, further empowered by the popular FX’s, Coens-produced TV show of the same name, easily spills over the limits of the world of cinema, as the film’s distinctive dialect and mild-mannered behavior called “Minnesota nice,” as well as its memorable quotes, entered the everyday language. With regard to the film’s influence on their authors’ career, it proved to be instrumental, as its success set the brothers up as a powerful and effortlessly recognizable cinematic voice.

Characteristically playing with the boundaries of the chosen genre and toying with the audience’s expectations, the Coen brothers created a refreshing and highly enjoyable hybrid of dark comedy and thriller, a neo-noir 98-minute roller-coaster ride through the desolate, snow-covered landscapes of Minnesota and the peculiar people that inhabit them, exploring and illuminating the dark corners of the human psyche and juxtaposing them against the humanity, humor and kindness stumbled upon in the mundane and ordinary. Brutally violent but charmingly idiosyncratic, dominantly murky but simultaneously hopeful and upbeat, Fargo is one of those special films that deserve to be revisited every once in a while, and as one of the best works of the Coen brothers, it’s at the same time among the best films America has presented to the world in the past couple of decades.

A monumentally important screenplay. Dear every screenwriter/filmmaker, read Ethan Coen & Joel Coen’s screenplay for Fargo [PDF]. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only). The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Absolutely our highest recommendation.

In the interview which follows, initially published in 1996, Joel and Ethan Coen discuss the writing and filming of Fargo, its precise characterizations, acting performances and the visual style that emphasizes the spiritual landscape of the bleak Midwestern setting. From ‘Closer to Life Than the Conventions of Cinema’ by Michel Ciment and Hubert Niogret (Positif, 1996). Revised version in ‘The Coen Brothers: Interviews’ (Conversations with Filmmakers) Ed. William Rodney Allen. (University Press of Mississippi, 2006).

Did some news item inspire Fargo, as the press kit suggests, or is that another false trail that you two have laid?
JOEL COEN: In its general structure, the film is based on a real event, but the details of the story and the characters are fictional. We were not interested in making a documentary film, and we did no research about the nature of the murders or the events connected to them. But in warning viewers that we had found our inspiration from a real story, we were preparing them to not view the film like an ordinary thriller.

Did this kidnapping of a wife organized by her husband create a good deal of sensation in 1987?
ETHAN COEN: It didn’t. In fact, its surprising how many things of this land get very little publicity. We heard about it from a friend who lived very close to where the story unfolded in Minnesota, which also happens to be where we are from.

Why did you call the film Fargo when the important action of the film is set in Brainerd, which is in Minnesota, and not Fargo?
JC: Fargo seemed a more evocative title than ‘Brainerd’—that’s the only reason.
EC: It was just that we liked the sound of the word—there’s no hidden meaning.
JC: There was, to be sure, a kind of western connection with Wells Fargo, but that was not part of our intention, and it’s too bad that some people should have thought so.

Here you returned somewhat to the territory of your first films, Blood Simple and Raising Arizona.
JC: There are some similarities, but also some important differences. These three films are all small-scale productions, their main themes relate to criminality, to kidnapping, and they are also very specific in their reference to geographical locale. Furthermore, Frances McDormand plays a role in Fargo and Blood Simple. But we have always thought that Blood Simple belongs to the tradition of flamboyant melodrama, as given expression in the novels of James M. Cain, along with some influence from the horror film. In Fargo, we tried out a very different stylistic approach, introducing the subject in a quite dry fashion. Our intention was also that the camera should tell the story like an observer. The structure of the film also follows from the origin of the story in an actual event: we allowed ourselves more digressions and detours. Each incident did not necessarily have to be connected to the plot. We also allowed ourselves to withhold the appearance of the heroine, Marge Gunderson, until the middle of the film.
EC: This is also a way of signifying to the viewer that he was not watching a genre film, that we were not going to satisfy expectations of this kind. In this way too, the film differs from Blood Simple.

What is it that drew you to the subject?
JC: There were two or three things about the actual events that interested us. In the first place, the story takes place in a time and place with which we were familiar and could explore. And then again it features a kidnapping, a subject that has always fascinated us. In fact, we had a screenplay that was quite different from Fargo that we would have been very happy to shoot. Finally, this subject offered us the chance to shoot a crime film with characters quite different from genre stereotypes.
EC: It’s probably not a subject we would have worked with had it not been connected to this particular context. When we begin writing, we need to imagine in a quite specific way the world where the story unfolds. The difference is that until this point these universes were purely fictional, while in the case of Fargo there was an air of authenticity we had to communicate. Since we come from the area, that helped us take into account the particular character of the place.

A ‘dialogue coach’ is listed in the credits. Is that a gag?
EC: No, not at all. Most of the actors come from this part of the country, and they did not need coaching, but Frances McDormand, Bill Macy, and Harve Presnell had to have some training so their accents would blend with the others. This was partly how the characters were developed, and it also contributed to the air of authenticity.
JC: The people there speak is a very economical fashion, which is almost monosyllabic. This seems as exotic to other Americans as it does to you Europeans! In fact, the Scandinavian influence on the culture of that area, the rhythm of the sentences, the accent, all of this is not familiar at all to the rest of America. The story could have just as well taken place on the moon! New Yorkers have a general conception of Midwesterners, but they know nothing about these cultural ‘pockets,’ these microsocieties with their idiosyncrasies and peculiarities.
EC: When we were small, we were not really conscious of this Scandinavian heritage that so strongly affects this part of the country simply because we had no points for comparison. When we got to New York City, we were astonished not to find any Gustafsons or Sondergaards. Certainly, all the exoticism comes from this Nordic character, with its polite and reserved manner. There’s something almost Japanese in this refusal to register even the least emotion, in this resistance to saying no. One of the sources of comedy in the story comes from the opposition between this constant avoidance of all confrontation and the murders gradually piling up.
JC: We didn’t need to do any research since this manner of speech, these expressions, these sentence cadences were familiar to us. Our parents had always lived in this part of the country, and that means we returned there regularly and were familiar with the culture. After all, it’s this culture that shaped us. Because we had not lived there for some time, we had the feeling of being separated in part from the environment where we had grown up.

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The episode between Marge and her old high-school friend is a digression from the central narrative, which is fairly compressed.
EC: Someone mentioned to us that in this scene, Frances acts in the very restrained manner of an Oriental, while her Japanese friend is talkative and irrational in the American style. It was certainly our intention while writing this sequence that it should be a digression.
JC: We wanted to provide another point of view on Frances’s character, one that had nothing to do with the police investigation. This is also what happens in the scenes with her husband.
EC: Our intention was to demonstrate that this story is more closely connected to real life than to fiction, and we felt free to create a scene that had no links to the plot.

The Hudsucker Proxy is no doubt your most stylized film. This one, in contrast, is probably your least.
JC: We wanted to take a new approach to style in this film, to make something radically different from our previous films. And it is true that we were pressured in this direction because the preceding film was the most ‘theatrical’ of them all. But curiously, working from actual events, we came to yet another form of stylization, in the largest sense of that term. The end result was then not as different as we imagined it would be!

A little like Kubrick did with Dr. Strangelove, you begin with a somewhat documentary presentation, then little by little, with icy humor, everything comes unglued and turns in the direction of the absurd.
EC: That resulted in part from the nature of the story. There is a plan that is established at the beginning and which in the end changes as the characters lose control of it.
JC: That’s an effect implicit in the form of the story. When a character, in the first scene, tells you how things are going to go, we know very well that the unfolding of the story will go in a quite different direction. Others have also made reference to Kubrick, and I see the connection. His approach to the material is very formal, but then progresses regularly from the prosaic to the baroque.

How did you succeed in never falling into caricature, a danger because of the kind of story you work with?
JC: I suppose intuition plays some role with regard to our choice of style, and, even more, it depends a great deal on the actors and their ability to know when they might be going too far. For example, Frances’s way of presenting her character is very sincere, very direct. That prevents Marge from becoming a parody of herself. Frances was very conscious of the dangers posed by excessiveness because of the quirk she used of dragging out the end of every sentence.
EC: We worked constantly on the set making adjustments with the actors. They’d give us a fairly wide range of behaviors for their characters, and we never stopped discussing that while shooting proceeded.
JC: We worked a good deal on ‘feeling.’ It’s hard to say in words why Marge, in the film, is not a caricature, but a real person with three dimensions.
EC: What’s certain about this is that when we were writing the screenplay and the actors were interpreting their roles, none of us thought of the story as a comedy.
JC: And that certainly helped, at the same time, to create comic effects and make the characters plausible. The comedy would not have worked if the film had been shot as a comedy, instead of sincerely and directly.

The relationship between Marge and her husband is also quite strange.
JC: We were intrigued from the moment we started casting by the notion of very simple interplay between them and by the impassive expression of John Caroll Lynch, which seemed to suit the tone of the film perfectly.
EC: He is the perfect incarnation of the undemonstrative personality of people from that region. The relations between husband and wife are based on what is not said, and yet they succeed nevertheless in communicating in some sense.

The end seems to be a parody of the classic Hollywood happy ending with the husband and wife on their bed symbolizing the return to order and to the natural.
JC: It is true that this is a return to order, but we did not have the intention of finishing up with a scene that’s a parody. There was an article in the New York Times in which the writer asked why the people in Minnesota did not like the film’s end, even though everything turned out for the best, as they are fond of believing there!

The only point at issue in the ending has to do with money. But isn’t money the film’s principal subject?
JC: All the characters in the film are obsessed with money.
EC: At the same time, we did not want to be too specific, for example, concerning the debt Jerry owes. It was enough to understand that this character had trapped himself by getting involved in some deal that had turned out badly. Moreover, during the entire film, Jerry is a pathetic loser who never stops improvising solutions in order to escape from the impasses he finds himself blocked by. He never stops trying everything, never stops bursting with activity. That almost makes him admirable!
JC: What we found interesting from the beginning in the character played by William Macy is his absolute incapacity, for even one minute, to project himself into the future so that he might evaluate the consequences of the decisions he has made. There is something fascinating about his total inability to gain any perspective. He’s one of those people who build a pyramid but never think for a minute about it crumbling.

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Did writing the screenplay take a lot of time?
EC: We had begun it before shooting The Hudsucker Proxy; afterward we went back to it, so it is pretty hard for us to estimate the time it all took. But two years had passed. What is certain is that the writing was easy and relatively quick, especially in comparison with our other screenplays, such as the one for Miller’s Crossing.

Was it determined from the beginning that the wife, once kidnapped, would no longer be a physical presence?
JC: Yes, absolutely. And at a certain point in the story, it was also evident to us that she would cease to be a person for those who had kidnapped her. Moreover, it was no longer the actress Kristin Rudrud who played her, but a double with a hood over her head. In this case, we had no interest in the victim. It did not seem that at any point the husband himself was worried about what might happen to her. And Carl, one of the kidnappers, didn’t even know her name.

Did you pick Steve Buscemi for this part before you had settled on Peter Stormare to play the other bad guy?
EC: In fact, we wrote the parts for these two comedians. And it was the same for Marge, played by Frances McDormand. Peter is an old friend, and he seemed an interesting choice for the role. Of course, his character is an outsider in the milieu where he finds himself, but at the same time he has an ethnic connection to it.

How do you work with your music director Carter Burwell?
JC: He has worked with us since our first project. Usually, he screens the film all the way through, then he plays a little bit of what he has in mind for us on the synthesizer so that he can give us some idea of what direction he’d like to go in. Before planning the orchestration, he plays parts of it for us on the piano, and we think about the connections these might have with certain sequences of the film. Then he goes on to the next step.
EC: In the case of this film, the main theme is based on a popular Scandinavian melody that Carter found for us.
JC: This is often how we work with him. For Miller’s Crossing, the music came from an Irish folk tune that he used as the basis for his orchestration, adding bits he wrote himself. For Raising Arizona, he used a popular American tune that Holly Hunter sings part of. On the other hand, for Blood Simple and Barton Fink, the music is all his own composition; it wasn’t inspired by anything else. For The Hudsucker Proxy, it was different yet again, a mix of an original composition by Carter and bits and pieces of Khachaturian.
EC: After he completes the orchestration, we go along with him to the sound recording studio. For our last two productions, he directed the orchestra himself. While the film is projected, we are still able to make last-minute changes. All told, the collaboration with him does not last more than two or three months.

How long did the editing take?
JC: About twelve weeks. That was a pretty short time for us because usually we take more, depending on whether we start editing while we’re still shooting.

Did the principal photography pose any problems for you?
JC: It was easier for us in this case than with our other films. We talked it over a great deal with Roger Deakins because we wanted to shoot a good many exterior long shots. From the very beginning, we determined to use nothing but shots where the camera does not move.
EC: Afterward we decided that this purist attitude was pretty stupid.
JC: And so we decided then to move the camera sometimes, but in such a way that the viewer would not notice it. We didn’t want to make the camera movement dramatic like we’d done in the past because we did not want to emphasize the action, make it seem either too dramatic or irrational.
EC: Roger Deakins worked on this production with a camera operator although, in the past, he was most often his own camera operator, including the two films he had made for us. This time he did not take charge of everything because he was often busy with the camera. On Fargo, we had problems with the weather because we needed snow, but the winter when we shot the film was particularly mild and dry. We had to work in Minneapolis with artificial snow. Then, because the snow didn’t always work out, we had to travel in the end to North Dakota to shoot the large-scale exteriors. There we found exactly what we were looking for: a sky with a very low ceiling, no direct sunlight, no line marking the horizon, only a neutral and diffuse light.
JC: The landscapes we used were really dramatic and oppressive. There were no mountains or trees, only desolate flatlands extending into the distance. That’s what we wanted to put on the screen.

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Do you spend a lot of time looking through the camera?
JC: For the first film we made with Roger Deakins, Barton Fink, we were constantly looking through the viewfinder. For Hudsucker Proxy, less. And even less in the case of Fargo. This was no doubt a reflection of the material in each case and of the visual effects we were looking for, but it also resulted from our developing collaboration with the director of photography. When we work regularly with someone, we rather quickly develop a sort of telepathic language. I also think that Roger likes to work with people like us who take an active interest in problems of lighting, rather than with directors who depend entirely on him.

There’s a contradiction between what it says in the press kit, which credits you with the editing, and the film credits that name a certain Roderick Jaynes.
JC: Whenever we edit the film ourselves, we use the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes. We prefer a hands-on approach rather than sitting next to someone and telling them when to cut. We think that’s easier. In any case, there are two of us in the editing room. As for everything else, we work together, and we never have the feeling of isolation that other people sometimes have. On Barton Fink and Blood Simple, we were also our own editor. On the other projects, we have used an editor, but we were always there, of course, whenever we could be. But if we called upon Tom Noble or Michael Miller in these other cases, it was because the editing, for reasons of scheduling, had to start while we were shooting.

Your films are set in New Orleans [sic], in New York, in Hollywood, in the West, or the Midwest. It seems you are interested in exploring American geography.
JC: We would like to shoot somewhere else, but, bizarrely, the subjects we come up with are always set in America. That’s what seems to attract us.
EC: It’s always necessary, or so it seems, that the universe in which our stories take place has some kind of connection, however distant, with us. In the case of Fargo, the connection was obviously even closer.
JC: We have a need to know a subject intimately or, at least, feel some emotional connection to it. At the same time, we are not interested unless there is something exotic about it. For example, we know Minnesota very well, but not the people who inhabit Fargo or their way of life. On the other hand, in the case of Barton Fink and Miller’s Crossing, the exoticism came from the story’s being set in a distant time.

What are your connections with the characters in Fargo, who for the most part seem somewhat retarded?
JC: We have affection for them all and perhaps particularly for those who are plain and simple.
EC: One of the reasons for making them simple-minded was our desire to go against the Hollywood cliché of the bad guy as a super-professional who controls everything he does. In fact, in most cases criminals belong to the strata of society least equipped to face life, and that’s the reason they’re caught so often. In this sense too, our movie is closer to life than the conventions of cinema and genre movies.
JC: We are often asked how we manage injecting comedy into the material. But it seems to us that comedy is part of life. Look at the recent example of the people who tried to blow up the World Trade Center. They rented a panel truck to use for the explosion and then, after committing the crime, went back to the rental agency to get back the money they left on deposit. The absurdity of this kind of behavior is terribly funny in itself.

What projects are you working on?
EC: At this point we’re working on two screenplays but don’t know which one we’ll finish first or which one will get financing first.
JC: One is also about a kidnapping, but of a very different sort. [This is a reference to The Ladykillers project, released in 2004]. The other is a kind of film noir about a barber from northern California, at the end of the 1940s. [This is the project that became The Man Who Wasn’t There.] —The Coen Brothers: Fargo, Crime and Realism

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A look into Fargo, with the filmmakers—the Coen brothers—and actor Frances McDormand.

Roger Deakins experimented with how little light he could get away with during two scenes in Fargo—one set during the day, and another shot at night—where tiny car headlights provide the only pinprick of illumination in this snow-covered setting. “That was sort of a thematic thing that we came up with early on,” said Deakins. “I suppose that night sequence of the car chase in Fargo actually informed me on how to shoot Jesse James.” As for that credits sequence, which opens the movie to the tune of Carter Burwell’s plaintive score, well… “The funny thing about shooting the opening sequence is that neither Joel, Ethan, or I were actually there!” admitted Deakins. “We were shooting on the sixteenth floor of this office building, but we knew this blizzard was coming in, and just schedule-wise, we were locked into the office scene. So I sent my assistant Robin out to shoot that sequence, but we had marked every shot with the cars, we had walked through and put stakes on the ground and knew where every camera went.” Continued Deakins, “A lot of the snow in Fargo had to be created, actually. When Bill Macy scrapes off his car in the parking lot, that was all created. We got very little snow during that shoot, and that’s why we weren’t available to shoot that opening sequence; we just sent Robin out to shoot it when we finally got enough snow.” —How Master Cinematographer Roger Deakins Got These Ten Shots

The 2013 The Art of the Score discussion hosted by Alec Baldwin and featuring the Coen brothers plus their long time composer Carter Burwell. A great meeting of the minds which dares to examine film music from a psychological perspective. Highly entertaining and worth every minute.



Minnesota Nice is a fascinating, 30-odd minute documentary about one of the finest, strangest and funniest films to come out of America of the last couple of decades, Fargo. Once again, remastered Fargo on Blu-ray is a must—have! Purchase your copy at Amazon.

William H. Macy about how intensely he lobbied for the role in Fargo.

I auditioned for a smaller role and they said, ‘That’s really good. You want to read Jerry?’ And I  said, ‘Yes, and so I went out of the room, spent 20 minutes, came back in, read Jerry.’ And they  said, ‘That’s real good. You want to work on it and come tomorrow?’ I said, ‘Yes.” I was up all night. I memorized the whole script. I wanted this role, so I went back in. They said, ‘That’s real good, that’s real good. We’ll be in touch.’ And then I heard through my agent that they were in New York auditioning, so I—jolly, jolly—got my ass on an airplane and crashed the audition. And I was making a joke—and luckily it landed—but I said, ‘I’m afraid you’re going to screw up your movie and cast someone else in this role,’ and they went, ‘Hahaha,’ and I said, ‘No,  seriously, I’ll shoot your dog if you don’t give me this role.’ And I think Ethan (Coen) had just gotten a dog. —William H. Macy

Open YouTube video

An ongoing film journal by filmmaker Cameron Beyl, ‘Breakout Classics,’ is the third installment of The Directors Series’ examination into the films and careers of directors Joel and Ethan Coen, covering their pair of mainstream breakthrough works in the late 90’s.

“One of the reasons for making them simple-minded was our desire to go against the Hollywood cliché of the bad guy as a super-professional who controls everything he does. In fact, in most cases criminals belong to the strata of society least equipped to face life, and that’s the reason they’re caught so often. In this sense too, our movie is closer to life than the conventions of cinema and genre movies.” —Ethan Coen

“In retrospect, this snowbound crime drama seems like a warm-up for No Country For Old Men in much the same way Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha laid the groundwork for Ran. Here’s the thing: Kagemusha is still a great movie—and more intimate in it way than its epic follow-up—and so is Fargo, which may lack the mythic pull of No Country, but makes up for it with two unforgettable lead characters, played by William H. Macy and Frances McDormand, who together express the Coens’ vision of the world. Both come from common Minnesota stock, but one is petty and small, acting out on a cowardly instinct to take control of his life, and the other is the embodiment of simple decency, forging a private paradise with her husband out of fricassee and three-cent stamps.” —Primer: The Coen Brothers by Scott Tobias

An excellent video essay by Tim Klobuchar that illustrates how two of Coen brothers’ films parallel and diverge from each other in the portrayals of their law(wo)men.



From Scorsese and Lynch to Wenders and Godard, interviews with twenty of the world’s greatest directors on how they make films—and why. Each great filmmaker has a secret method to his moviemaking—but each of them is different. In ‘Moviemakers’ Master Class,’ Laurent Tirard talks to twenty of today’s most important filmmakers to get to the core of each director’s approach to film, exploring the filmmaker’s vision as well as his technique, while allowing each man to speak in his own voice. Martin Scorsese likes setting up each shot very precisely ahead of time—so that he has the opportunity to change it all if he sees the need. Lars von Trier, on the other hand, refuses to think about a shot until the actual moment of filming. And Bernardo Bertolucci tries to dream his shots the night before; if that doesn’t work, he roams the set alone with a viewfinder, imagining the scene before the actors and crew join him. In these interviews—which originally appeared in the French film magazine Studio and are being published here in English for the first time—enhanced by exceptional photographs of the directors at work, Laurent Tirard has succeeded in finding out what makes each filmmaker—and his films—so extraordinary, shedding light on both the process and the people behind great moviemaking. Among the other filmmakers included are Woody Allen, Tim Burton, Pedro Almodovar, Joel and Ethan Coen, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Wong Kar-Wai and John Woo. We can’t recommend this book enough and consider it required reading for all aspiring filmmakers. You may purchase it from Amazon or Book Depository. It is also available at Barnes&Noble, as an ebook and in paperback. The following is an excerpt.

Joel: Teaching is not something we’ve ever really considered. There is a selfish reason for that—it would take too much of our time and prevent us from working on our projects—but also a more pragmatic one, which is that we would probably have no idea what to tell the students. We’re not the most articulate filmmakers around, mostly when it comes to explaining what we do and how we do it. Sometimes we go to film schools, show one of our films, and answer some of the questions the students might have. But they tend to be very specific questions, which rarely have to do with the craft itself. Most of the time, really, film students are looking for advice on how to raise money.
Ethan: I guess one way to teach could be to show films. Though, once again, our tastes are not what you might call classical. In fact, most of the films we love and that have inspired us are obscure movies that most people consider terrible. I remember when we worked with Nicolas Cage on Raising Arizona, we talked about his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, and told him that Finian’s Rainbow, which hardly anyone has ever seen, was one of our favorite films. He told his uncle, who I think has considered us deranged ever since. So anyway, if we did show these kinds of films in a classroom, it might get a good laugh but might not necessarily teach anyone how to make a good film. Though I guess getting exposed to different kinds of filmmaking, and becoming more open-minded about cinema, is one of the advantages of going to film school.

Joel: The other advantage of film school is that it does give you some experience in dealing with the chaos of the set. It’s all on a much smaller scale, of course. You’re dealing with crews of five to ten people, budgets of a few hundred dollars. But the general sense of how things work, and the dynamic you have to deal with in terms of people and time, and even money, isn’t that much different.
Ethan: Joel went to film school, but I didn’t. I learned the basics, the nuts and bolts of how a film gets made, by working as an assistant editor and then, eventually, as an editor. And I think that’s actually a very good way to learn because going through all this raw material lets you see firsthand the way a director took a script and broke it down. You get to see what good coverage is and what bad coverage is. You see all the shots that are useless, and you understand why. Also, it gives you a good idea of what actors do. You see the raw material and you see them do take after take after take, and you can observe how they evolve. In my view, it really is the best learning experience you can have. Short of actually making a film, of course.

Ethan: I’m tempted to say that the biggest lesson we learned about filmmaking is that there is no net, which is a line from David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. But I guess the main lesson is that you have to remain flexible. You have to remain open-minded and accept that sometimes you can’t get what you want. You can’t be too married to your own ideas. Well… that’s not quite true: there has to be a sort of central idea that you’re after, that you’re aware of and that you don’t let circumstances distract you from. And there is a danger, actually, of letting yourself be seduced from the original idea that got you interested in the movie. And there is often a lot of pressure to alter your ideas because something is going to be too difficult to achieve, logistically or financially… And you have to know when to resist that.
Joel: That’s true, making movies is a balancing act. On the one hand, you need to be open to new ideas if the reality of the situation requires it and not rigidly try to reproduce your original ideas. But on the other hand, you must have enough confidence in your own ideas so that you’re not changing in response to any sort of exterior exigency that will want to make you push the movie one way or another. But there are no lessons, really, no rules that you can rely on. It’s always a fluid situation where you have to kind of use your instincts.Ethan: Since we’re controlling the film pretty much from beginning to end, it’s easy to keep on doing what we want to do. However, reality always remains an obstacle. You get to the set and a scene doesn’t work the way you planned it, or the light doesn’t look like what you wanted… And the fact that we do our own thing makes everything we want even more specific and precise. So circumstances are even more likely to not give us what we want.

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Joel: It’s hard to say where our original desire comes from, whether it’s the writing or the images. Our interest is in stories, that’s certain. We like telling stories. But we don’t see the writing as the best form to do that. It’s just a step. We really think in terms of images.Ethan: The main difference for us between the writing and the directing is that we’re willing to write for other people but we wouldn’t direct a script that has been written by somebody else. Part of it comes from a purely pragmatic point of view: writing a script takes a few weeks, sometimes a few months. Directing a film can take up to two years of our lives. So it better be worth it! Also, writing for other people is an interesting exercise. It gives you an opportunity to work on material that is interesting but that you wouldn’t consider filming yourselves. It’s a way to experiment in a relatively safe way. We don’t even mind getting rewrite notes from studios, whereas we would never accept it on one of our own films. Because when you write for hire, it becomes a problem-solving game. And we have fun doing it.
Ethan: When we work on our own films, however, we really try to shut out outside points of view. And we don’t test much, we don’t show work in progress, because we find that you can get really conflicting information from that process. The major thing you’re concerned about, really, is clarity. And that’s a hard thing to determine by yourself. It’s really like looking at two color cards and asking yourself, “Does this one work better than the other?” rather than showing it to a bunch of people and asking, “Which do you like better?” Of course, you’re not really making the film for yourself; you’re always making it for some audience, but it’s a very generic audience for us. It’s kind of an abstract audience. When we’re on the set making decisions, we’re always wondering whether a scene works or not, whether it’s going to play or not, and really, we’re wondering that in regard to the audience, not for us specifically. But it has to work for us too. In fact, it has to work for us first, I guess!

Joel: When we start writing a script, we don’t necessarily know what it’s about, or what form it’s going to take, or where it’s going to go, and it comes to life little by little. It’s true with the movie too, but in a slightly different way. With us, the finished movie probably resembles the script more than with most directors, mainly because we tend to shoot the script and not revise it extensively in production. But on the other hand, there are so many subtle changes, every day, that the movie really becomes different at the end from what you originally had in mind. Everything has kind of shifted, and you usually can’t even remember what your original vision was.Ethan: Filmmaking has its own grammar, just as literature does. Everybody knows what basic coverage should be, and just because you have some kind of idiosyncratic ideas that might work even though they’re breaking the rules, the fact remains that there are rules that are there and that work. There is such a thing as a conventional way to cover a scene. A good director knows what the most basic way to cover is, and I guess most will try to go for that. But of course, following the rules does not guarantee that the film will work. That would be too easy.

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Joel: We usually storyboard most of the shots. But when we get on the set in the morning, we start by rehearsing with the actors. We walk around the set with them a lot, and usually they sort of figure out the best blocking among themselves, depending on what is most comfortable or most interesting. After that, we go to the director of photography and decide, from what we’ve seen of the acting, how much we want to stick to the storyboard or not. And most of the time, we’ll ignore it because the blocking of the scene makes the storyboard academic.Ethan: We know pretty much exactly how we want to shoot each scene. Sometimes exactly, and usually at least roughly. How much we actually cover depends on a lot of things. We frequently shoot scenes—especially in our most recent movies, and particularly in Fargo—that have no coverage at all because they’re done in one shot. And in other scenes we do so much coverage that we look at each other at the end of the day like we’re a couple of morons who’ve never made movies! I guess we tend to cover more at the beginning of the film, because it’s usually been a long time and we’re a little nervous and afraid. And then, as we get back into the rhythm, we become more confident.

Ethan: We’re not particularly purist about anything technical. We’re ready to try anything. Although, in terms of lenses, we probably tend to use wider lenses than most directors. That’s always been true. One of the reasons for that is that we love moving the camera, and wide lenses make the moves much more dynamic. And they give a longer depth of field. On the other hand, the longer lenses tend to be more flattering to actors, and though I know it is a concern to most directors, I have to confess it’s never really been the case for us. Our new director of photography, Roger Deakins, whom we’ve been working with since Barton Fink, is slowly trying to change that. I don’t think he had ever used a wider lens than a 25-millimeter before working with us. And I don’t think we’d ever used anything longer than a 40-millimeter, which most people already consider pretty wide.
Joel: The two films we probably experimented the most on were Blood Simple and Barton Fink. Blood Simple, because it was the first one and so everything had the virtue of novelty. And to tell the truth, we weren’t quite sure what we were doing. Barton Fink, because it is the most stylized film we’ve made and also because it faced us with the question, How do you make a film about a guy in a room, pretty much, and still make it interesting and compelling? It was a real challenge. But The Hudsucker Proxy was also an experiment in extreme artificiality, and Fargo was an experiment in a sort of extreme reality—which was a fake reality, because it was as stylized as the other ones. Compared to all that, the films we’re making today are not real adventures. Not that we don’t like the way they look, but they’re all stuff we’ve done before, pretty much.

Neither of us has any acting background; we sort of came to filmmaking from the technical end or the writing end, as opposed to someone who comes from the theater and has experience working with actors. So we hadn’t worked with professional actors when we made our first film, and I remember that we had very specific notions of what a line should sound like, or how a reading should be done. But as you get a little more experienced and start having a little more fun with it, you realize that you have one idea and it may not be the best idea. And that’s what you hire the actors to do, to improve on your conception—not just to mimic it but to expand it, to create something of their own which you couldn’t have imagined yourself.

Ethan: Working with actors is really a two-way system. And the director doesn’t tell them what to do as much as explain to them what he wants so that the actors can adapt to that, to help them out. Because you’re not there to teach them how to act. You’re there to give them what makes them comfortable, to give them the kinds of things they’re looking for from you. Sometimes they’ll want to talk a lot around what you’re doing but not specifically about it. Or sometimes it’s just “Tell me where to stand and how fast to talk.” So it’s a question of getting a feeling in the first few days of what their process is, to be sensitive about that. And maybe that means to stay out of their way.

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Joel: Actors like to work in all different kind of ways. No question about that. But the really easy actors to work with from a visual point of view are the ones who have their own ideas, which may not conform to how you imagine a scene being blocked or may not fit into what your visual plan was for the scene. But they tell you what their ideas are. And they’re also sensitive to a certain extent to what you’re trying to do visually. Jeff Bridges, for instance, is very much like that. He’ll adapt his ideas to your vision. He has his own thing, but he can work it around to compromise with your ideas.
Ethan: Of course, casting is important. And you have to be open to surprises. Sometimes you cast someone obvious, and sometimes you have to take a risk to get something more interesting. For instance, Miller’s Crossing wasn’t written for an Irishman. But Gabriel Byrne came in and said he thought it would sound pretty good with an Irish accent. And I know I was thinking, “Yeah, right.” But then he did it, and we realized it did sound pretty good. And so we changed the part. Same with William H. Macy for Fargo. We had in mind the total opposite: someone kind of fat and a little schleppy. But Bill came in and made us totally reimagine the character. That’s why we often like to see actors read, even if we know their work, because that kind of thing does happen.

Joel: Once we’ve cast and have started working on the set, though, we’re not too open to surprises anymore. We don’t like to let actors improvise, for instance. That isn’t to say that actors don’t sometimes rewrite lines or come up with their own lines, but that’s different from improvisation. The only time we do actual improvisation is during rehearsals, to bring certain things out, but that usually doesn’t affect the scene itself. What we’ll usually do is ask the actors to invent the parts of the scene that aren’t written, the five minutes that take place before and after the scene. We find that it helps them get into the scene better. Jeff Bridges and John Goodman liked to do that a lot on The Big Lebowski. And sometimes it was very funny. Actually, sometimes it was even better than what we wrote!

The brothers, who are varying involved in the directing, screenwriting, producing and editing aspects of their films, are no strangers to BAFTA attention. Their 1996 film Fargo picked up the award for Best Director and was nominated for the screenplay and editing awards. 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? attracted a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, and the pair took home a Best Film award in 2008 for No Country for Old Men. Most recently, at the 2011 Film Awards, True Grit was nominated in 8 categories.

Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Ethan Coen & Joel Coen’s Fargo. Production still photographers: Jim Bridges, Michael Tackett © PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films, Gramercy Pictures. Intended for editorial use only. All material for educational and noncommercial purposes only.

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Andrew, Geoff.
"The Coen Brothers." In: Stranger than paradise : maverick film-makers in recent American cinema / Geoff Andrew. New York : Limelight Editions, 1999.
Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1998.2 .A65 1999

Astruc, Frederic.
Le cinema des freres Coen Paris : Editions du Cerf, 2001.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 A88 2001

Bergan, Ronald.
The Coen brothers Published: New York : Thunder's Mouth Press ; [Berkeley, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, c2000.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 B47 2000

The Coen brothers: interviews
Edited by William Rodney Allen. 1st ed. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2006.
Main Stack PN1998.3.C6635.C64 2006
Table of contents

Conard, Mark T.
Philosophy of the Coen Brothers University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

"Coen, Joel; Coen, Ethan." (filmmakers) Current Biography Sept 1994 v55 n9 p10(5)
Joel and Ethan Coen established a reputation as original filmmakers with their first movie, 'Blood Simple,' and their subsequent films have continued to earn critical acclaim. Their lives and careers are profiled, and critical reaction to their work is discussed.

Coughlin, Paul
"Language Aesthetics in Three Films by Joel and Ethan Coen." The Film Journal, vol. 1, no. 12, pp. [no pagination], Spring 2005.
UC users only

The Edge of Hollywood (American cinema ; 10) [videorecording]
Examines alternative cinema and takes a look at the new breed of outlaw directors, a diverse group of independent filmmakers many of whom are from minority communities, who play their own game on the fringes of traditional Hollywood. Interviews with: Sam Raimi, Jim Stark, Julie Dash, Ira Deutchman, Joel Silver, John Pierson, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Joel Coen, Steven Soderbergh, Nancy Savoca, Quentin Tarantino. 55 min. Media Resources Center Video/C 3718

Harkness, John
"The sphinx without a riddle." Sight & Sound Vol IV nr 8 (Aug 1994); p 6-9
"An assessment of the work of Ethan and Joel Coen. The Coens' originality lies in the sheer aplomb they bring to the filmmaking process, the relentless darkness of their humor, and the ironic twists that they give to familiar tales. Their fondness for extreme stylization often works, as in Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing, where their reduction of characters to trademark gestures and phrases is well suited to the hermetically sealed universe of film noir, but in The Hudsucker Proxy, their latest film, they try to jam together two items that do not mix: a 1930s story and characters with a 1950s setting." [Art Index]

Hinson, H.
"Bloodlines" [interview with J. Coen, E. Coen and B. Sonnenfeld]. Film Comment v. 21 (March/April 1985) p. 14-19
"Joel and Ethan Coen, brothers from Minnesota who grew up watching and learning from the movies of the forties and fifties, have created an evocative and lively film noir, with a generous dollop of B-movie gore, that has garnered raves from critics across the country. The brothers shared the producing, directing, and writing chores for Blood Simple, a low-budget film that tells the seamy story of a love triangle gone awry. Dan Hedaya's Julian Marty is a creepy outsider in a sleepy Texas town whose wife Abby (Frances McDormand) grows bored and takes up with bartender Ray (John Getz). They are watched by M. Emmet Walsh as Visser, one of the most virulent, sleazy private eyes to ever grace the screen. There is a sly, knowing style at work in the film's comedic elements, and hints of James M. Cain, Hitchcock, and Brian De Palma in its chills and thrills. In an interview, the Coens and cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld discuss their work and their future plans." [Art Index]

Horowitz, Mark
"Coen brothers A-Z: the big two-headed picture." Film Comment v. 27 (September/October 1991) p. 27-8+
A guide to visual and thematic motifs in, cinematic and literary influences on, and other aspects of the films of Joel and Ethan Coen.

Joel & Ethan Coen
Edited by Peter Korte and Georg Seesslen ; translated by Rory Mulholland ; with additional material by Michael Kane. New York : Limelight Editions, 2001.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 J6413 2001

Joel & Ethan Coen : blood siblings
Edited by Paul A. Woods. 2nd ed. London : Plexus, c2003.
PFA : PN1998.3.C635 J634 2003

Jones, Kent.
"Airtight." Film Comment. Nov/Dec 2000. Vol. 36, Iss. 6; p. 44 (5 pages)
UC users only

Katsahnias, Iannis
"Freres de sang." Cahiers du Cinema no. 441 (March 1991) p. 39

Lavery, David.
""Secret Shit": The Uncertainty Principle, Lying, Deviations, and the Movie Creativity of The Coen Brothers." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p141-153, 13p
UC users only
"The article discusses the works of filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. While critics find their movies empty and hollow, the author states that they leave their signature as auteurs all over their films. Critical response to the films of the Coen brothers, including "Barton Fink," "The Man Who Wasn't There," and "The Big Lebowski," is examined. The author suggests that the Coens parody films and other forms of a media with a zest that belies their media personas as unassuming, anti-intellectual filmmakers." [EBSCO]

Levine, Joshua S.
The Coen brothers : the story of two American filmmakers Toronto : ECW Press, c2000.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 L48 2000;Levine, Joshua S.

Marineo, Franco.
Il cinema dei Coen Alessandria : Falsopiano, 1999.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 M37 1999

Mottram, James.
The Coen Brothers : the life of the mind Dulles, VA : Brassey's Inc., 2000.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 M68 2000

Natoli, Joseph.
"Ethan and Joel Coen."
In: Postmodernism : the key figures / edited by Hans Bertens and Joseph Natoli. Malden, Mass. : Blackwell Publishers, 2002.
Main Stack B831.2.P683 2002

Palmer, R. Barton
Joel and Ethan Coen Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c2004.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 P35 2004; View current status of this item
Table of contents

Perry, Keith.
"A Selected Bibliography Of Secondary Sources On The Films Of Joel And Ethan Coen." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p154-160, 7p
UC users only

Pooley, Eric
"Warped in America: the dark vision of moviemakers Joel and Ethan Coen." New York March 23, 1987 v20 p44(5)

Robson, Eddie.
Coen brothers London : Virgin, 2003.
Main Stack PN1998.3.C6635.R63 2003

Rowell, Erica
The brothers Grim : the films of Ethan and Joel Coen Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2007.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 R69 2007
Table of contents

Russell, Carolyn R.
The films of Joel and Ethan Coen Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2001.
MAIN: PN1998.3.C6635 R87 2001

Sickels, Robert C.
"We're in a tight spot!": The Coen Brothers' Screwy Romantic Comedies." Journal of Popular Film & Television, Fall2008, Vol. 36 Issue 3, p114-122, 9p
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Silverman, Jonathan.
"Up Close and Distant: The Coen Brothers' Sense of Place." Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas, Nov2007, Vol. 38, p31-38, 8p
UC users only

Snee, Brian J.
"Soft-Boiled Cinema: Joel and Ethan Coens' Neo-Classical Neo-Noirs." Literature Film Quarterly; 2009, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p212-223, 12p, 10 bw
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Tirard, Laurent
"Joel and Ethan Coen." In: Moviemakers' master class : private lessons from the world's foremost directors 1st ed. New York : Faber and Faber, 2002.
Main Stack PN1995.9.P7.T495 2002
Moffitt PN1995.9.P7.T495 2002

Tuck, Greg
"Laughter in the dark : irony, black comedy and noir in the films of David Lynch, the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino." In: Neo-noir / edited by Mark Bould, Kathrina Glitre and Greg Tuck. London ; New York : Wallflower Press, 2009.
Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.F54 N46 2009

Walker, Joseph S., Perry, Keith
"Introduction: "If You Think We're Alive, You Ought To Speak"." Post Script; Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p3-7, 5p
UC users only
The article discusses the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, including "Blood Simple," "Raising Arizona," and "No Country for Old Men." The author says that the films of the Coen brothers create their own fantastic and idiosyncratic worlds, where none of the usual rules apply. Essays present in this issue of "Post Script" examine all of the films of the Coen brothers, which represent serious critical writing that was slow to appear. This slowness was due to what the author calls active discouragement of analysis and secrecy on the part of the Coens.

Articles and Books on Individual films

Barton Fink

Alleva, Richard.
"Get the Guy with Glasses: The Coens' 'Barton Fink' -- Barton Fink directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen." Commonweal. Sep 27, 1991. Vol. 118, Iss. 16; p. 550 (2 pages)
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Baecque, Antoine de
"Meurtre a l'Hotel Earle." Cahiers du Cinéma no. 448 (October 1991) p. 36-7

Barnes, Randall.
"Barton Fink: The Atmospheric Sounds of the Creative Mind." Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies 9 (2007).

Canby, Vincent
"Barton Fink."(Living Arts Pages) The New York Times August 21, 1991 v140 pB1(N) pC13(L) col 1 (22 col in)

Conard, Mark T.
"Heidegger and the Problem of Interpretation in Barton Fink." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Dickerson, S.
"Hollywood Babylon." Modern Review Vol I nr 2 (Winter 1991-92); p 12

Dunne, Michael
"Barton Fink': intertextuality, and the (almost) unbearable richness of viewing." (directors Joel and Ethan Coen)(Critical Essay)Literature-Film Quarterly Oct 2000 v28 i4 p303(9)
UC users only
"This article aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an intertextual reading of motion pictures, focusing on the intertextual qualities of Joel and Ethan Coen's film, 'Barton Fink.' Topics addressed include the portrayal of reality, the relationship between audience and author, and postmodernist satire." [Expanded Academic Index]

Dunne, Michael
"The Hollywood Picture: Barton Fink and The Player." In: Intertextual encounters in American fiction, film, and popular culture / by Michael Dunne. Bowling Green, OH : Bowling Green State University Popular Press, c2001.
Main (Gardner) Stacks E169.1 .D87 2001

Giavarini, L.
"L'Accouchement du cinema: Barton Fink." [and other films by the Coen brothers]. Cahiers du Cinema no. 448 (October 1991) p. 41-4

Grenier, Richard
"Barton Fink." Commentary Nov 1991 v92 n5 p51(3)
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Hainge, Greg.
"The Unbearable Blandness of Being: the Everyday and Muzak in Barton Fink and Fargo." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p38-47, 10p
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Jameson, Richard T.; Horowitz, M.
"What's in the box." Film Comment Vol XXVII nr 5 (Sept-Oct 1991); p 26-28,30,32
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"Barton Fink, Joel and Ethan Coen's new film, deals with a socially conscious New York playwright brought to Hollywood to write genre scripts in 1941. The film is mesmerizingly authoritative as long as it concentrates on the imaginative projection of interior life. The Coens' sense of film history and lore is careless and inaccurate, however, and their attempt at historical allegory, including a reference to Hitler and a figurative Holocaust, is silly." [Art Index]

Jenkins, Steve.
"Barton Fink." (movie reviews) Sight and Sound Feb 1992 v1 n10 p39(2)

Jousse, Thierry
"Barton Fink." Cahiers du Cinema no. 448 (October 1991) p. 30-3

Kauffmann, Stanley
"Barton Fink." (movie reviews) The New Republic Sept 30, 1991 v205 n14 p26(2) (1110 words)
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Klawans, Stuart.
"Barton Fink." (movie reviews) The Nation Sept 23, 1991 v253 n9 p350(2) (2451 words)
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Laga, Barry.
"Decapitated Spectators: Barton Fink, (Post)History, and Cinematic Pleasure." In: Postmodernism in the Cinema. Ed. Christina Degli-Esposti. New York: Berghahn, 1998. 187-207.

Lyons, Donald
"Lubricating the muse." Film Comment Vol XXVIII nr 1 (Jan-Feb 1992); p 14-16
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Examines the treatment of the literary milieu in "Barton Fink", "Kafka" and "Naked lunch".

Moss, Andrew.
"Schizophrenia and Postmodernism: Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, and "The Coen Brothers". Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p23-37, 15p
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Murch, Walter.
"How do You Like Your Room? Thoughts on the Use of Sound in Barton Fink." Soundtrack, Nov2008, Vol. 1 Issue 3, p211-215, 5p
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Powers, John
"Finking it." Sight & Sound Vol I nr 5 (Sept 1991); p 4
Comment on the Coen brothers' style and critical, if not commercial, success with "Barton Fink".

Rafferty, Terrence
"Barton Fink." (movie reviews) The New Yorker Sept 9, 1991 v67 n29 p76(3)

Robertson, William Preston.
"What's the goopus? " (Joel, Ethan Coen making motion picture Barton Fink; includes related article on dominant motifs in Coen films) American Film August 1991 v16 n8 p28(7)
"Barton Fink, an absurd comedy about writer's block, is Joel and Ethan Coen's most poignantly intimate film yet. Winner of the best film, best director, and best actor awards at this year's Cannes Film Festival, the film stars John Turturro, John Goodman, Michael Lerner, John Mahoney, and Jon Polito. The making of Barton Fink is discussed, and a sidebar describes some dominant motifs in the Coen oeuvre." [Art Index]

Rosenbaum, Jonathan
"Crass consciousness: Barton Fink." In: Placing movies: the practice of film criticism / Jonathan Rosenbaum Berkeley : University of California Press, c1995
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Saada, Nicolas
"Barton Fink." Cahiers du Cinema no. 445 (June 1991) p. 29

Saada, Nicolas; Jousse, Thierry
"Ethan et Joel Coen: interview about Barton Fink." Cahiers du Cinema no. 448 (October 1991) p. 34-5

Schickel, Richard
"A three-espresso hallucination." (Joel and Ethan Coen, film makers, and their latest movie 'Barton Fink') Time August 26, 1991 v138 n8 p58(2) (1373 words)
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Stefon, Matt.
"That "Barton Fink Feeling" and the Fiery Furnace: The Book of Daniel and Joel and Ethan Coen's Barton Fink." Journal of Religion & Film, Apr2008, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p36-36, 1p
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Sutherland, Katherine.
"Beauty and the Beast, Basic Instinct and Barton Fink: The Pursuit of Textual Satisfaction." Textual Studies in Canada/Etudes Textuelles au Canada. 4: 81-91. 1994.

Yarbrough, Scott.
"Faulkner and water imagery in Bartn Fink." The Faulkner Journal. Fall 2000/2001. Vol. 16, Iss. 1/2; p. 95 (11 pages)
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The Big Lebowski

Alleva, Richard
"The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews) Commonweal April 10, 1998 v125 n7 p22(2) (1322 words)
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Comer, Todd A.
"This Aggression Will Not Stand": Myth, War, and Ethics in The Big Lebowski." Substance: A Review of Theory & Literary Criticism, 2005, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p98-117, 20p;
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Coughlin, Paul.
"Language Aesthetics in Three Films by Joel and Ethan Coen." Film Journal 1.12 (2005).
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Douglass, Matthew K.; Walls, Jerry L.
"'Takin' 'er Easy for All Us Sinners': Laziness as a Virtue in The Big Lebowski." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Hoefer, Anthony
""Like tumbleweed drifting across a vacant lot": The Mythic Landscape of Los Angeles in Chandler's The Big Sleep and the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski." Clues. Spring 2008. Vol. 26, Iss. 3; p. 42 (14 pages)

Kauffmann, Stanley.
"The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews) The New Republic April 6, 1998 v218 n14 p26(2) (1201 words)
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Kazecki, Jakub.
""What Makes A Man, Mr. Lebowski?": Masculinity Under (Friendly) Fire In Ethan And Joel Coen's The Big Lebowski." Atenea, Jun2008, Vol. 28 Issue 1, P147-159, 13p;
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"The article discusses the role of masculinity in the motion picture "The Big Lebowski," directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. The author takes a look at the negative criticism received by the film upon its release. The author also examines how the film breaks the boundaries of genre and traditional masculine roles." [Ebsco]

Klawans, Stuart.
"The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews) The Nation March 30, 1998 v266 n11 p35(2) (518 words)
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Klinger, Barbara
"Becoming cult: The Big Lebowski, replay culture and male fans." Screen 2010 51: 1-20
UC users only

Lattek, Michael
"Abduction and Adoption: Tracing the Western in 'The Big Lebowski'." In: Picturing America : trauma, realism, politics, and identity in American visual culture / Antje Dallmann, Reinhard Isensee, Philipp Kneis (eds.). Frankfurt am Main ; New York : Lang, 2007.
Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1992.6 .P556 2007

Martin, Paul; Renegar, Valerie R.
""The Man for His Time" The Big Lebowski as Carnivalesque Social Critique." Communication Studies. Sep 2007. Vol. 58, Iss. 3; p. 299

Martin-Jones, David.
"No Literal Connection: Images of Mass Commodification, U.S. Militarism, and the Oil Industry in The Big Lebowski." Sociological Review 54.1 (2006): 131-49.
UC users only

Maslin, Janet.
"The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews) The New York Times March 6, 1998 v147 pB25(N) pE31(L) col 1 (21 col in)

McCarthy, Margaret
"They Were Threatening Castration, Man: Germans in The Big Lebowski." Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 43, no. 5, pp. 1048-1064, 2010 Oct
UC users only

Merkin, Daphne
"The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews)The New Yorker March 23, 1998 v74 n5 p98(2)

Ostria, Vincent
"The Big Lebowski." Cahiers du Cinema no. 523 (April 1998) p. 76-7
"A review of The Big Lebowski, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film presents a new race of antihero in the form of an ageing hippy, Jeffrey Lebowski (the Dude) and his sidekick, Walter Sobchak. The Coen brothers claim that their aim was to make a vague remake of Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep, but instead they caricature the genre and push it to the point where the humor weakens or even negates it. Although several parts of the film (notably the dialogue) are full of silly and nasty humor, it is really a somewhat condescending study of human stupidity." [Art Index]

Peachment, Chris.
"The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews) New Statesman (1996) April 24, 1998 v127 n4382 p45(1) (730 words)
UC users only

Robertson, William Preston.
The Big Lebowski : the making of a Coen brothers film New York : W.W. Norton, c1998.
MAIN: PN1997.B444 R63 1998
Contents via Google books

Romney, Jonathan
"In praise of goofing off" The Big Lebowski." (movie reviews) Sight and Sound May 1998 v8 i5 p38(2)

Singer, Marc.
"Trapped by Their Pasts": Noir and Nostalgia in The Big Lebowski." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p84-96, 13p, 3 bw;
UC users only

Snee, Brian J.
"Soft-Boiled Cinema: Joel and Ethan Coens' Neo-Classical Neo-Noirs." Literature Film Quarterly, 2009, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p212-223, 12p
UC users only
The author focuses on the "neo-classical" approach to film narration in film noir, examining whether the approach allows filmmakers to adapt first-person prose in film without sacrificing character-reader indentification. After providing an overview of hard-boiled detective fiction and film noir, the author explores several "neo-noir" films by Joel and Ethan Coen, such as "Blood Simple," "The Big Lebowski," and "The Man Who Wasn't There." The author concentrated on how the Coen brothers' films impact the relationship among filmmakers, film characters, and their audience. The author states that the Coen brothers' films displace the character-reader relationship present in detective fiction and replace it with an identification with the camera and filmmakers.

Wall, Brian.
""Jackie Treehorn Treats Objects Like Women!": Two Types of Fetishism in The Big Lebowski." Camera Obscura, Sep2009, Vol. 23 Issue 69, p110-135, 26p, 3 Black and White
UC users only

Blood Simple

Corliss, Richard
"Blood simple." (movie reviews)Time Jan 28, 1985 v125 p90(2) (586 words)

Coughlin, Paul.
"The Mark of Cain: Blood Simple and The Man Who Wasn't There." Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies 3 (2005).

Ferncase, Richard K.
"Neon noir: Blood simple (1984)" In: Outsider features: American independent films of the 1980s / Richard K. Ferncase. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1996.
Main PN1993.5.U6 F44

Grimes, Larry E.
"Shall These Bones Live? The Problem of Bodies in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Joel Coen's Blood Simple." In: Screening the sacred: religion, myth, and ideology in popular American film / edited by Joel W. Martin, Conrad E. Ostwalt, Jr. pp: 19-29 Boulder: Westview Press, 1995.
Main Stack PN1995.5.S36 1995

Hinson, Hal
"Bloodlines." (The Coens of "Blood Simple") Film Comment March-April 1985 v21 p14(5)
On the stylistic qualities of "Blood simple". Writer-director Joel Coen, writer-producer Ethan Coen and cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld on their background and production of the movie.

Joseph, Tiffany
""A Real Imaginary Place": Reality and Fantasy From Blood Simple To The Man Who Wasn't There." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p107-116, 10p
UC users only

Kael, Pauline
"Blood simple." (movie reviews) The New Yorker Feb 25, 1985 v61 p81(3)

Kauffmann, Stanley
"Blood simple." (movie reviews) The New Republic Feb 25, 1985 v192 p24(2) (1437 words)

Lidz, Franz
"Brothers who practice the art of the put-on." (re-release of director's cut of 'Blood Simple' by Ethan and Joel Coen) The New York Times July 2, 2000 pAR9(N) pAR9(L) col 1 (25 col in)

O'Brien, Tom
"Blood simple." (movie reviews) Commonweal April 5, 1985 v112 p213(1)

O'Toole, Lawrence
"Blood simple." (movie reviews) Maclean's April 15, 1985 v98 p58(1)

Orr, Stanley
"Razing Cain: Excess Signification In Blood Simple and the Man Who Wasn't There." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p8-22, 15p, 7 bw; (AN 34397441)
UC users only

Musto. Michael
"Blood simple." (movie reviews) Saturday Review April 1985 v11 p75(1)

Palmer, R. Barton
"Thinking beyond the Failed Community: Blood Simple and The Man Who Wasn't There." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Simon, John
"Blood simple." National Review March 22, 1985 v37 p55(2) (695 words)

Snee, Brian J.
"Soft-Boiled Cinema: Joel and Ethan Coens' Neo-Classical Neo-Noirs." Literature Film Quarterly, 2009, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p212-223, 12p
UC users only
The author focuses on the "neo-classical" approach to film narration in film noir, examining whether the approach allows filmmakers to adapt first-person prose in film without sacrificing character-reader indentification. After providing an overview of hard-boiled detective fiction and film noir, the author explores several "neo-noir" films by Joel and Ethan Coen, such as "Blood Simple," "The Big Lebowski," and "The Man Who Wasn't There." The author concentrated on how the Coen brothers' films impact the relationship among filmmakers, film characters, and their audience. The author states that the Coen brothers' films displace the character-reader relationship present in detective fiction and replace it with an identification with the camera and filmmakers.

Woolfolk, Alan
"Deceit, Desire, and Dark Comedy: Postmodern Dead Ends in Blood Simple." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Burn After Reading

Rapold, N.
"Burn after Reading." Sight & Sound v. ns18 no. 11 (November 2008) p. 52-3
UC users only

Tyree, J. M.; Walters, Ben
"League of Morons." Sight & Sound v. ns18 no. 11 (November 2008) p. 36-8
UC users only


Abrams, Jerold J.
"'A Homespun Murder Story': Film Noir and the Problem of Modernity in Fargo." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Beavis, Mary Ann
"Fargo: A Biblical Morality Play." The Journal of Religion and Film Vol. 4, No. 2, October 2000

Blake, Richard A.
"Fargo" (review) America April 20, 1996 v174 n13 p26(2) (1116 words)
UC users only

Burdeau, Emmanuel; Saada, Nicolas
"Les forces de l'ordre./ Entretien avec Ethan et Joel Coen."Cahiers du Cinéma; nr.505 (Sept 1996); p.40-47,49
The Coen brothers express their surprise at the success of "Fargo", coming after the box-office flop of"The Hudsucker proxy", and comment on the nature of independent cinema.

Carriere, Jeanne L.
"Cold Comfort: Law and Community in Ethan and Joel Coen's Fargo." Utah Law Review 2003.2 (2003): 563-86.
UC users only

Carter, Steven
"'Flare to white': Fargo and the postmodern turn." Literature/Film Quarterly; Vol.XXVII nr.4 (1999); p.238-244
UC users only
Suggests that "Fargo" documents the common inability of ordinary people to feel passionately about anything.

Castle, Robert.
"Kubrick and the Coen Brothers Again: The Shining and Fargo." Bright Lights Film Journal. 42: (no pagination). 2003 Nov.

Chaloupka, William.
"Praising Minnesota: The Coens' Fargo and the Pressures of Stoic Community." Theory & Event 1.2 (1997).

Coe, Jonathan
"Fargo" (review) New Statesman & Society June 7, 1996 v9 n406 p36(1) (797 words)
UC users only

The Coen brothers' Fargo
Edited by William G. Luhr. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.
MAIN: PN1997.F3456 C64 2004
Table of contents

Coughlin, Paul.
"Acting for Real: Performing Characters in Miller's Crossing and Fargo." Journal of Popular Culture, Apr2008, Vol. 41 Issue 2, p224-244, 21p
UC users only

Coughlin, Paul.
"Language Aesthetics in Three Films by Joel and Ethan Coen." Film Journal 1.12 (2005).
UC users only

Cramer, Barbara
"Fargo." (movie reviews)Films in Review May-June 1996 v47 n5-6 p61(1)

Coursodon, Jean-Pierre Positif;nr.423 (May 1996); p.12-15
"Fargo. Le génie du lieu."

Dahan, Yannick; Coen, Ethan
"Du rêve à la réalité./ Introduction � "Fargo"." Positif;nr.447 (May 1998); p.12-15
Analyses the themes in the Coen brothers' films, focusing on an inherent criticism of US society in the'90's and the values and power of Hollywood. Incl. "Introduction to Fargo" written by Ethan Coen, where hereminisces about his grandmother and gives his reasons for making "Fargo".

Denby, David
"Fargo." (movie reviews) New York March 18, 1996 v29 n11 p50(2)

Doherty, Thomas
"Fargo" (review) Cineaste Spring 1996 v22 n2 p47(2) (1558 words)
UC users only

Francke, Lizzie
"Hell freezes over." Sight & Sound Vol VI nr 5 (May 1996); p 24-27
"With their latest film, Fargo, the Minnesota-born brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, return to the icy wastelands of the American northern Midwest, with its Scandinavian influence. This vast landscape is the bleak backdrop to a story of a faked but unsuccessful kidnapping, which is apparently based on fact. The Coens show a wry, teasing affection for the community in which they grew up, and the film is almost warm in its depiction of this Siberian-looking patch of the United States. A number of photographic stills from the film are reproduced alongside commentary from the directors." [Art Index]

Goodwin-Kelly, Mary Kate
"Pregnant Body and/as Smoking Gun : Reviewing the Evidence of Fargo." In: Motherhood misconceived : representing the maternal in U.S. films / edited by Heather Addison, Mary Kate Goodwin-Kelly, Elaine Roth. Albany : State University of New York Press, c2009.
Main (Gardner) Stacks HQ759 .M8745 2009

Hainge, Greg.
"The Unbearable Blandness of Being: the Everyday and Muzak in Barton Fink and Fargo." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p38-47, 10p
UC users only

Hanrahan, Rebecca; Stearns, David
"'And It's Such a Beautiful Day!' Shame and Fargo." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Holt, Linda
"Fargo" (review) TLS. Times Literary Supplement June 14, 1996 n4863 p20(1)

Kauffmann, Stanley
"Fargo" (review) The New Republic March 25, 1996 v214 n13 p30(2) (820 words)
UC users only

Klady, Leonard
"Coens commit near-perfect crime." Variety; Vol.CCCLXII nr.2 (Feb 12 1996); p.78

Kroeber, Karl
"Magnifying Criminality: Fargo, Film Noir, and A Perfect World." In: Make believe in film and fiction : visual vs. verbal storytelling / Karl Kroeber. 1st ed. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Main Stack PN1995.3.K76 2006

Krohn, Bill
"Fargo, situation des fr�res Coen." Cahiers du Cinéma; nr.502 (May 1996); p.32-35
"A review of Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen's latest film. Set in the frozen landscape of Minnesota, this film is based on the true story of a kidnapping that goes very wrong and has a bloody end. It centers on Jerry Lundergaard, a car salesman who needs to find a lot of money very quickly and who decides to stage the kidnapping of his wife by two crooks. The result is a reign of terror that is finally stopped by the heavily pregnant chief of police, Marge Gunderson. Showing the Coen brothers at their best, this Hitchcock-like tragedy ultimately demonstrates that ours is an absurd world where good actions lead to disaster as much as bad ones." [Art Index]

Lane, Anthony
"Fargo." (movie reviews)The New Yorker March 25, 1996 v72 n5 p97(3)

Lee, Scott.
"Fargo: Struggle for the Vehicle." Canadian Journal of Film Studies/Revue Canadienne D'Etudes Cinematographiques. 11 (1): 60-77. 2002 Spring.

Leitch, Thomas M.
"Fargo and the Crime Comedy." In: Crime films Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Full-text of this book available online via ebrary [UC Berkeley users only]
UCB Main PN1995.9.D4 L45 2002
Table of contents

Maslin, Janet
"Fargo" (review) The New York Times March 8, 1996 v145 pB1(N) pC1(L) col 3 (23 col in)

Masson, Alain; others
"Joel et Ethan Coen." Positif;nr.427 (Sept 1996); p.4-17
Incl. a review of "Fargo", a look at the film within the overall career of the Coen brothers, and aninterview in which they speak of the film's setting, production, and basis in fact.

McKinney, Devin
"Fargo." (movie reviews)Film Quarterly Fall 1996 v50 n1 p31(4)
UC users only
"Coming from Joel and Ethan Coen, Fargo is a betrayal of themselves, their audience, and a human milieu. As with their five previous features, Fargo examines the commonplace horrors visited upon those who dare to live out lives they envision in their personal master narratives. Although the film is linked to their better work in thematic and visual aesthetic terms, Fargo is an unfortunate departure in every other sense, trading dark humor for dim slapstick and a provocatively distanced form of observation for a feckless pose of fake objectivity. The film achieves nothing more striking than to unite its characters in the torpor of a shared idiocy." [Art Index]

Newman, Kim
"Fargo" (review)Sight and Sound June 1996 v6 n6 p40(2)

Palmer, R. B.
"[The Coen Brothers' Fargo]." Film Quarterly v. 58 no. 4 (Summer 2005) p. 57-8
Excerpt: "As William Luhr suggests, . . . Fargo usefully typifies the kind of slick, marketable 'independent' filmmaking that, emerging in the 1980s, has continued to be an important element in the American industry ever since; Fargo provides insight 'into significant recent trends in both the film industry and American culture.' There is no disputing that conclusion. Most would agree as well that the film is 'a haunting and delightful one that explores middle-American themes and settings from an original and unsettling perspective, that challenges traditional cinematic genre structures, and that comments on American racial, gender, and cultural traditions.' The texts collected here explore that thematic richness from a variety of critical and methodological perspectives, although, somewhat disappointingly, the book offers less engagement with how the film, and the work of the Coens in general, relates to 'recent trends' in the film industry." [Art Index]

Probst, Christopher
"Cold-blooded scheming." American Cinematographer; Vol.LXXVII nr.3 (Mar 1996); p.28-30,32,34
"Cinematographer Roger Deakins's work on Fargo, his third collaboration with the filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen, is discussed. A dark comedy, the film is a tale of a kidnapping gone awry in the dead of winter in Minneapolis. The Coens and Deakins met during preproduction to discuss and determine the film's visual style, while the dynamics of a given scene were worked out on set. On Fargo, the Coens shot on 40mm and 32mm, longer lenses than they have ever shot before. As before, Deakins employed his favorite camera, an Arriflex BL-4, fitted out with Zeiss prime lenses, and exposed on his favorite film stock, Eastman's 200 ASA EXR 5293."

Radner, Hillary.
"New Hollywood's New Women--Sarah and Margie." In: Contemporary Hollywood cinema / edited by Steve Neale and Murray Smith. London ; New York : Routledge, 1998.
Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1993.5.U65 C66 1998

Robson, Eddie.
"From The Hudsucker Proxy to Fargo: "A Different Concept, A Different Kind of Film"." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p73-83, 11p
UC users only

Rosenbaum, Jonathan.
"The human touch: Decalogue and Fargo." In: Essential cinema : on the necessity of film canons / Jonathan Rosenbaum. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
Main Stack PN1994.R5684 2004
Moffitt PN1994.R5684 2004
PFA PN1994.R63 2004

Saada, N.
"Entretien avec Ethan et Joel Coen" [on their film Fargo]. Cahiers du Cinema no. 505 (September 1996) p. 43-7+
"An interview with Ethan and Joel Coen on the release of their film Fargo (1996). Among a range of topics, they discuss their respective roles in the making of the film, their previous film The Hudsucker Proxy, the independent cinema movement, the inspiration for the film, its style and actors, and Hitchcock's influence on their work." [Art Index]

Simon, John
"Fargo" (review) National Review April 22, 1996 v48 n7 p60(3) (1540 words)
UC users only

Sterritt, David.
"Fargo: the middle of nowhere?" In: Guiltless pleasures : a David Sterritt film reader. 1st ed. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c2005.
Main Stack PN1994.S816 2005
PFA PN1994.S816 2005

Toles, George.
"Obvious Mysteries in Fargo." Michigan Quarterly Review 38.4 (1999): 627-64.

Travers, Peter
"Fargo." (movie reviews) Rolling Stone March 21, 1996 n730 p104(1)

Wager, Jans B.
"Fargo (1996): A Woman Who is Not Herself Mean-Snow-Swept Highways and Margie." In: Dames in the driver's seat : rereading film noir / Jans B. Wager. Austin : University of Texas Press, 2005.
Full text available online (UC Berkeley users only)
Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.F54 W34 2005 AVAILABLE
Moffitt PN1995.9.F54 W34 2005

The Hudsucker Proxy

Coughlin, Paul
"The Past Is Now: History and The Hudsucker Proxy." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Intolerable Cruelty

Biderman, Shai; Devlin, William J.
"Justice, Power, and Love: The Political Philosophy of Intolerable Cruelty." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Hansen-Love, Mia
"Savoir plaire." Cahiers du Cinéma no. 584 (November 2003) p. 34-5
"A review of Intolerable Cruelty, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen. This romantic comedy pits glamorous divorce lawyer Miles Massey against glacial arriviste Marylin Rexroth, with whom he falls in love. This wonderful and very funny film plays with the conventions of the genre but avoids falling into sentimentality." [Art Index]

Klawans, Stuart
"The Avengers." (Movie Review) The Nation Nov 10, 2003 v277 i15 p32 (1664 words)
UC users only

Lange, Pedro.
""The Purloined Letter and the Massey Prenup: of Ethics, the Lacanian Real, and Nuptial Bliss in Intolerable Cruelty." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p117-126, 10p
UC users only

Mitchell, Elvis
"A Lawyer's Good Teeth Help in Court and Love." (Movies, Performing Arts/Weekend Desk)(movie 'Intolerable Cruelty')(Movie Review) The New York Times Oct 10, 2003 pE13 col 01 (23 col in)

Rooney, David
"Love among sharks delivers comic bite." (Intolerable Cruelty)(Movie Review) Variety Sept 8, 2003 v392 i4 p25(2) (1031 words)
UC users only

Silberg, Jon
"Divorce American Style." American Cinematographer v. 84 no. 10 (October 2003) p. 48-50, 52, 54-9
UC users only
The work of cinematographer Roger Deakins on Joel and Ethan Coen's Intolerable Cruelty is discussed. The film tells the story of a conniving woman who vows to gain revenge on an equally conniving divorce attorney who has managed to do her out of any claim to her husband's fortune. Deakins shot the film with an Arri 535 mounted with Cooke S4 lenses, using fairly conventional focal lengths: 40mm and 50mm for closer shots and 32mm for wider ones.

Tatum, Chuck
"Cruel romance: Clooney & Zeta-Jones wage divorce wars for the Coen Bros." (Movie Review) Film Journal International Oct 2003 v106 i10 p10(2) (777 words)

Walters, Ben
"Intolerable Cruelty." Sight and Sound Nov 2003 v13 i11 p49(3)
UC users only
"In this film, the Coen brothers deliver a mainstream romantic comedy with the potential to earn more than the rest of their oeuvre combined. The problem, however, is not that they have chosen to produce a straight genre piece but that they have not pulled it off--a failing all the more surprising given the sophisticated play with genre tropes in many of their movies. That said, the film is never less than enjoyable, and, importantly for a comedy, it is often hilarious." [Art Index]

The Lady Killers

Arnold, David L. G.
"On Ladies, Killing, and the Ethics Of The Remake: the Coen Brothers Do The Ladykillers." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p127-140, 14p
UC users only

Kemp, Philip; Walters, Ben
"Satire with tweezers." Sight & Sound Vol XIV nr 7 (July 2004); p 22-26,54
UC users only
"Alexander Mackendrick's The Ladykillers, which has been remade by the Cohen brothers, is "obviously a parody of Britain in its subsidence." All the film's imagery conjures up a postimperial Britain hopelessly resistant to change, inextricably mired in the faded detritus of the Victorian era. Although reviewers failed to sense the film's allegorical level, or to see it for what it is--an ironic portrait of a country slipping into postimperial desuetude, clinging to outworn conventions and dreaming of past glories--it is this satirical element and the dark tinge of the comedy that have kept The Ladykillers fresh when so many of its Ealing Studios stablemates have faded into a faintly musty period charm." [Art Index]

Lane, Anthony
"Heists." ("The Lady killers")(Movie Review) The New Yorker April 5, 2004 v80 i7 p089 (1626 words)
UC users only

Malausa, V.
"Ladykillers." Cahiers du Cinema no. 591 (June 2004) p. 41
"A review of The Ladykillers, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen. This is a remake set in the American South of the classic British comedy of the same name in which a gang of criminals rent a cellar in an attempt to break into the safe of a neighboring casino. This is the driest Coen brothers film yet, relying, out of laziness and fear, almost exclusively on Tom Hanks's performance and on a blase playfulness." [Art Index]

McCarthy, Todd
"Pic can't conjure up that old Ealing." (Movie Review) Variety March 22, 2004 v394 i6 p38(2) (1156 words)
UC users only

Miranda Sawyer
"Bit of a steal: the Coen brothers' remake of an Ealing classic lacks the genius of the original." (Film)(The Ladykillers)(Movie Review) New Statesman (1996) June 28, 2004 v133 i4694 p45(1) (790 words)

Walters, Ben.
"Stealing the Scene." Sight and Sound. 14 (7): 24-26. 2004 July.
UC users only
"The Coen brother's new version of The Ladykillers returns to the source of the original film, with added stupidity. The dialogue is predictably a treat, especially the highfalutin' Latinate verbiage of Tom Hanks's would-be evil genius. Some half-hearted gross-out moments are less than effective, and those dispirited by Intolerable Cruelty's generically conservative approach might still feel deprived of the more outre expressions of the Coens' sensibility. However, their comic touch is as deft as ever, even if it is played in a more conventional key." [Art Index]
Interview with J. Todd Anderson concerning his work on storyboarding the Coen Brothers "The ladykillers"

The Man Who Wasn't There

Arthur, Paul
"The Man Who Wasn't There: Joel Coen, USA, 2001." (movie review) Film Comment Sept-Oct 2001 v37 i5 p75(1) (856 words)
UC users only
"Joel and Ethan Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There is a fully realized, cohesive, and completely "serious" homage to film noir. The shadow of noir casts an equivocal pall over the Coens' entire output, but with this movie they finally get it right. Set in 1949 amidst a revitalized cold war economy rife with xenophobia and the lasting horrors of World War II, the film is the sleazy tale of the descent into criminality of meek barber Ed Crane, who is played by Billy Bob Thornton. As in earlier Coen Brothers movies, there are more reversals and plot twists than in George W. Bush's foreign policy." [Art Index]

Brook, Vincent and Campbell, Allan
"'Pansies Don't Float': Gay Representability, Film Noir, and The Man Who Wasn't There." Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 2003, No. 46

Fuller, Graham
"Dead man walking." Sight & Sound v. ns11 no. 10 (October 2001) p. 12-15
UC users only
"The new film by the Coen Brothers, The Man Who Wasn't There,0 looks like vintage film noir and offers tribute to the genre's literary godfather, James Cain. However, although there are a number of connections in the film to Cain's novels, in making the protagonist passive and asexual, the Coens' have moved away from typical Cain adaptations. There is in fact a case to be made that their film, which is languid to the point of sluggishness, is anti-noir and is a puritanical revision of Cain as well. While Cain's paradigmatic noir stories were about the desire to make a wish come true and the price paid when it does, the protagonist in the Coens' new film is notable for his absence of ego and for the overriding sense that he wants nothing." [Art Index]

Hoffman, Karen D.
"Being the Barber: Kierkegaardian Despair in The Man Who Wasn't There." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
Full-text available online (UCB users only)

Hohenadel, Kristin
"The ghosts who infest the living; no longer simple wraiths clad in sheets, a new species of spirit is either dead acting as if it's alive or alive acting as if it's dead." The New York Times Oct 28, 2001 pAR13(N) pAR13(L) col 1 (35 col in)

Johnson, Brain
"A knack for noir: David Mamet and the Coen brothers prove their mastery of the genre." (films The Man Who Wasn't There and Heist)(Review) Maclean's Nov 12, 2001 p53 (1336 words)
UC users only

Joseph, Tiffany
""A Real Imaginary Place": Reality and Fantasy From Blood Simple To The Man Who Wasn't There." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p107-116, 10p
UC users only

Kemp, Philip
"Dead man walking." Sight & Sound Vol XI nr 10 (Oct 2001); p 12-15
Analysis of how the Coen brothers' new film, "The man who wasn't there", upsets and plays with the conventions of film noir. Incl. interview with DOP Roger Deakins who comments on the camera techniques and lighting in the film.

Kemp, Philip
"The Man Who Wasn't There." (movie review) Sight and Sound Nov 2001 v11 i11 p50(2)

Kerr, Philip
"A Coen-trick." (The Man Who Wasn't There)(Review) New Statesman (1996) Oct 22, 2001 v130 i4560 p46 (884 words)
UC users only

Mars-Jones, Adam
"In a cool mood." (The Man Who Wasn't There) (movie review) TLS. Times Literary Supplement Nov 2, 2001 i5144 p26(1)

O'brien, Geoffrey
"O Brothers, Where Art Thou?" (The Man Who Wasn't There)(Review) Artforum International Oct 2001 v40 i2 p35 (1293 words)
"A review of The Man Who Wasn't There, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen. This ostensible homage to film noir doubles as homage to noir et blanc, the only appropriate medium for evoking late 1940s small-town California. Elaborate period trappings have been enlisted in the service of a story about terminal emptiness: the immovable center of the movie, the barber Ed Crane, is a systematically unrelieved study in blank-faced motiveless isolation. In the end, however, he proves less interesting than the world whose surfaces the viewer is permitted to explore underneath the mad barber's ruminations; these surfaces and the perfectionist intensity with which they are teased out give the movie its share of pulp poetry." [Art Index]

Orr, Stanley
"Razing Cain: Excess Signification In Blood Simple and the Man Who Wasn't There." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p8-22, 15p, 7 bw; (AN 34397441)
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Palmer, R. Barton
"Thinking beyond the Failed Community: Blood Simple and The Man Who Wasn't There." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
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Scott, A.O.
"First passive and invisible, then ruinous and glowing." (The Man Who Wasn't There)(Living Arts Pages)(Review) The New York Times Oct 31, 2001 s0 pE1(N) pE1(L) col 4 (20 col in)

Shiloh, Ilana.
"A Vision of Complex Symmetry: The Labyrinth in The Man Who Wasn't There." M/C Journal 10.3 (2007).

Snee, Brian J.
"Soft-Boiled Cinema: Joel and Ethan Coens' Neo-Classical Neo-Noirs." Literature Film Quarterly, 2009, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p212-223, 12p
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The author focuses on the "neo-classical" approach to film narration in film noir, examining whether the approach allows filmmakers to adapt first-person prose in film without sacrificing character-reader indentification. After providing an overview of hard-boiled detective fiction and film noir, the author explores several "neo-noir" films by Joel and Ethan Coen, such as "Blood Simple," "The Big Lebowski," and "The Man Who Wasn't There." The author concentrated on how the Coen brothers' films impact the relationship among filmmakers, film characters, and their audience. The author states that the Coen brothers' films displace the character-reader relationship present in detective fiction and replace it with an identification with the camera and filmmakers.

Travers, Peter
"The Man Who Wasn't There." (movie review) Rolling Stone Nov 22, 2001 i882 p95(1)

Miller's Crossing

Alleva, Richard
"Miller's Crossing." Commonweal Dec 7, 1990 v117 n21 p720(1)

Ansen, David.
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) Newsweek v116, n12 (Sept 17, 1990):54 (3 pages).

Canby, Vincent
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) The New York Times Sept 21, 1990 v140 pB1(N) pC1(L) col 1 (15 col in)

Corliss, Richard.
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) Time v136, n13 (Sept 24, 1990):83 (2 pages).

Coughlin, Paul.
"Miller's Crossing, The Glass Key and Dashiell Hammett."Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema. 19: (no pagination). 2002 Mar-Apr., Book Publication Date: 2002.
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Coughlin, Paul.
"Acting for Real: Performing Characters in Miller's Crossing and Fargo." Journal of Popular Culture, Apr2008, Vol. 41 Issue 2, p224-244, 21p
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Denby, David.
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews)New York v23, n39 (Oct 8, 1990):59 (2 pages)

Herling, Bradley L.
"Ethics, Heart, and Violence in Miller's Crossing." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
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Jameson, Richard T.; Glicksman, M.
"Chasing the hat. Getting down to the bone." Film Comment Sept-Oct 1990 v26 n5 p 32-38,40,43,45
US actor John Turturro discusses his career, his background, his role in "Miller's Crossing", and directors he has worked with.

Johnson, Brian D.
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) Maclean's Oct 1, 1990 v103 n40 p55(2) (1192 words)

Katsahnias, Iannis
"Miller's Crossing." Cahiers du Cinema no. 441 (March 1991) p. 36-8

Kauffmann, Stanley
"Body Count: Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) The New Republic Oct 29, 1990 v203 n18 p26(2) (360 words)
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Klawans, Stuart
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) The Nation Nov 5, 1990 v251 n15 p538(1) (412 words)
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Krohn, Bill
"Joel & Ethan Coen et Barry Sonnenfeld." Cahiers du Cinema no. 441 (March 1991) p. 40-3

Lenzner, Steven J.
"A Cinematic Call for Self-Knowledge: An Interpretation of Miller's Crossing." Perspectives on Political Science, Spring2001, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p85, 8p
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McKim, R.
"Miller's Crossing." Cineaste Vol XVIII nr 2 (1991); p 45-47

Nolan, William.
"Miller's Crossing's Tom Reagan: "Straight as a Corkscrew, Mr. Inside-Outsky"." Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p48-61, 14p, 4 bw; (AN 34397444)
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Pulleine, Tim
"Neo-classic Hammett: Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) Sight and Sound Winter 1990 v60 n1 p64(2)

Restaino, Katherine M.
"Miller's Crossing: The Poetics of Dashiell Hammett." In: The Detective in American Fiction, Film, and Television / edited by Jerome H. Delamater and Ruth Prigozy. pp: 103-10. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Contributions to the study of popular culture; no. 63
Main Stack PS374.D4.D48 1998

Seidenberg, Robert.
"Miller's Crossing: John Turturro meets the Coen brothers." (actor John Turturro in the new film "Miller's Crossing" by Joel and Ethan Coen) American Film v15, n6 (March, 1990):60 (2 pages).
"Miller's Crossing is an intense, character-driven gangland tale created by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. The serious, intense film represents somewhat of a change for the Coens, who earned a reputation for quirky humor and snappy visuals in Blood Simple and Raising Arizona. It also reveals a new side of actor John Turturro, who is best known for his portrayals of tough, intimidating men of action in Five Corners and Do the Right Thing. In Miller's Crossing, Turturro plays Bernie the Shmatta, a man of wit and words who unwittingly sets off a gang war." [Art Index]

Simon, John
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) National Review Dec 3, 1990 v42 n23 p54(2) (847 words)
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Tesson, Charles
"L'aventure intérieure." Cahiers du Cinéma; nr.462 (Dec 1992); p.56-61
A genre reading of "Miller's Crossing" and "Unforgiven" (relating to the gangster film and westernrespectively).

Thompson, Frank, Katzman, Lisa, Horton, Robert.
"Miller's Crossing." Film Comment v. 26 (September/October 1990) p. 32-3
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"Joel and Ethan Coen's gangster movie Miller's Crossing captures the enigmatic look of the 1920s. Jon Polito, J. E. Freeman, Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro, and Marcia Gay Harden play characters who are intertwined in crime and love triangles. Finney is particularly poignant, and he looms large in the movie even though the screenplay obliges him to disappear for most of its last two-thirds." [Art Index]

Travers, Peter
"Miller's Crossing." (movie reviews) Rolling Stone Oct 4, 1990 n588 p50(1)

No Country for Old Men

Alleva, Richard
"The Haunting." Commonweal; 12/21/2007, Vol. 134 Issue 22, p14-15, 2p
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Bell, James
"It's the Way He Walks." Sight and Sound, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 49, February 2008

Braudy, Leo
"Whose Country?" Film Quarterly, Summer2008, Vol. 61 Issue 4, p10-11, 2p; (AN 36387352)
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Bruns, John.
"The Map is Not the Country: Cartography in Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men." Film Criticism, Winter2011/2012, Vol. 36 Issue 2, p2-21, 20p
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The article offers criticism on the film "No Country for Old Men," directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The author focuses on cartography and maps in the film and discusses how the characters in the film occupy the topographic field, using scholarship from Tom Conley and Andr� Bazin as examples. He focuses on three maps in the film, including a map of Texas, a map of the U.S., and a map of a hotel. Also discussed are the characters of Anton Chigurh and Ed Tom Bell.

Devine, Frank
"The Bad Guy Gets Booed. Understood?" Quadrant Magazine; May2008, Vol. 52 Issue 5, p64-66, 3p
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Doll, Kevin.
"No Country For Old Men." Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 2008, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p269-270, 2p; (AN 34718901)

Farley, Frank
"Humanizing an inhumane world: Not here, not now." PsycCRITIQUES, 2008, Vol 53 (32). No Pagination Specified.
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Gilmore, Richard
"No Country for Old Men: The Coen's Tragic Western." In: In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
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McFarland, Douglas
"'No Country for Old Men as Moral Philosophy." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
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Mellen, Joan .
"Spiraling Downward: America In Days Of Heaven, In The Valley Of Elah, and No Country For Old Men." Film Quarterly. Spring 2008. Vol. 61, Iss. 3; p. 24 (8 pages)
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O'Brien, Geoffrey
"Gone Tomorrow: The Echoing Spaces of Joel & Ethan Coen's "No Country for Old Men"." Film Comment 43:6 (November-December 2007) Issue p. 28-31
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This article discusses the film "No Country for Old Men," an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel from directors Joel and Ethan Coen. The article comments on the film's use of stillness and silence punctuated by brief and chaotic action. The article discusses the at once cinematic and unfilmable aspects of McCarthy's novels. The article discusses previous Coen brothers films and their cinematic style.

Sharrett, Christopher.
"Comic Dread in the Modern Frontier." Cineaste. Summer 2008. Vol. 33, Iss. 3; p. 11 (3 pages)
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O Brother Where Art Thou?

Bjerre, Thomas Aervold.
"Southern Pop Culture and the Literary Tradition in 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'" American Studies in Scandinavia 2006 38(2): 55-65 11p

Blake, Richard A.
"Wily Brothers." (movie review) America Feb 5, 2001 v184 i3 p30 (1509 words)
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Cant, John.
"Homer In Tishomingo: Eclecticism And Cultural Transformation In The Coen Brothers' 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'" Comparative American Studies 2007 5(1): 63-79 17p.
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Chadwell, Sean.
"Inventing That 'Old-Timey' Style: Southern Authenticity in O Brother Where Art Thou?." Journal of Popular Film and Television. 32 (1): 2-9. 2004 Spring.
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"Inventing that "old-timey" style: Southern authenticity in O brother, where art thou? Abstract: On notions of 'cultural authenticity' and how the representation of the music in "O bother, were art thou?" as 'old-timey' blurs the distinction between African American and white American Southern cultures." [FIAF]

Cohen, Michael
"O Brother Where Art Thou?" Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema, vol. 11, pp. (no pagination), December 2000.

Content, Rob; Tim Kreider, Boyd White.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Reviews). Film Quarterly Fall 2001 v55 i1 p41(8)
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"Joel and Ethan Coen's masterpiece, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, is a bleak epic filmed as a sequence of comic adventures and escapes performed by cartoonish characters. It features three happy endings, a big musical number, a pardon from the governor, a wedding, and a miracle; but the film's disquieting moments of genuine cruelty are made unforgettable by abrupt reversals of fortune, contrived escapes, and improbably happy endings. Its purportedly lighthearted tone is also betrayed by the bleached tones of its arid fields and dirt roads, and by a knowing selection of dirge-like old songs about unemployment, hunger, prison, and death. The film's ending and so many of its songs remind one that the only relief from strife and tribulation is death." [Art Index]

Cormier, Michelle.
"Black Song, White Song: Salvation through the Radio in The Apostle and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?." Journal of Religion and Film. 6 (2): 13 paragraphs. 2002 Oct.

Filene, Benjamin.
"O Brother, What Next? Making Sense Of The Folk Fad." Southern Cultures 2004 10(2): 50-69.
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"Reviews the Joel and Ethan Coen film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) as an imagined version of the 1930's South. The film sparked an interest in old-time Southern music, but the author finds that it is a commercial film lacking in authenticity. Modern folk artists receive fame, fortune, and awards but tend to hold the music as a relic from another world and time rather than experiencing tradition as a living, changing thing. The danger is that folk culture becomes a fad, thus diluting Southern distinctiveness." [America: History and Life]

Fisher, B.
"Escaping from chains." American Cinematographer v. 81 no. 10 (October 2000) p. 36-42, 46-9
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"The work of cinematographer Roger Deakins on O Brother, Where Art Thou? a film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, is discussed. Set in rural Mississippi in the 1930s, the film follows three convicts who escape from a chain gang and embark on an odyssey packed with misadventures. Deakins, who opted to shoot in a wide-screen format on Super 35mm film, worked mainly with a single Arri 535 camera and new Cooke S4 prime lenses, filming on Kodak Vision 500T 5279 for night interior and exterior scenes, Eastman's EXR 5248 100-speed film for most daylight exteriors, and 200-speed Eastman EXR 5293 for daylight sequences in shadowy forest locations and for recording blue-screen elements of composite shots. In what may be seen as the start of a change in the cinematographer's role, Deakins later retooled the film's color palette in a digital suite after the negative was locked down and converted to digital format, in order to give the film the feeling of old, hand-tinted postcards." [Art Index]

Flensted-Jensen, Pernille.
"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed: The Odyssey and O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Classica et Mediaevalia 53 (2002): 13-30.

Fox, Aaron A.
"'Alternative to What?': O Brother, September 11, and the Politics of Country Music." In: Country music goes to war / edited by Charles K. Wolfe and James E. Akenson. Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2005.
Music ML3524 .C695 2005

Goldhill, Simon.
"Naked and O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Politics and Poetics of Epic Cinema." In: Homer in the twentieth century : between world literature and the western canon / edited by Barbara Graziosi and Emily Greenwood. New York : Oxford University Press, 2007.
Main Stack PA4037.H7775 2007

Goldmark, Daniel.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou? A Musical Appreciation." Xavier Review. 23 (2): 31-41. 2003 Fall.

Gonzales, Eric
"In and along the mississippi: The motif of music in Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Jim Jarmusch's mystery train." Revue Française d'études américaines 2003, no98, pp. 99-110 [12 page(s)
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In O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Mystery Train the Coen brothers and Jim Jarmusch choose the state of Mississippi and the city of Memphis, Tennessee as the settings of their heroes' peregrinations. Music permeates Joel Coen's and Jim Jarmusch's cinematic spaces, so much that it influences their narrative and stylistic perspectives and structures their works. The aim of this paper is to examine how the Coen brothers' and Jarmusch's choice of the musical field as a territory for their reconstructions of the South enables them to collate distinct artistic domains and genres in their representations of "border incidents" between stories, legends and history.

Hirschman, Elizabeth C.
"Two Jews Wander Through The Southland." In: Pop fiction : the song in cinema / edited by Steve Lannin and Matthew Caley. Bristol, UK ; Portland, Or. : Intellect, c2005.
Full text available online (UCB users only)
Main (Gardner) Stacks ML2075 .P65 2005
Pacific Film Archive ML2075 .P65 2005

Hoffman, Adina
"Cockeye Caravan." (Review) The American Prospect, Jan 1, 2001 v12 i1 p36

Jackson, Kevin
"Unchained melodies." Sight & Sound Vol X nr 10 (Oct 2000); p 38-39,54
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"The Coen brothers' new film is a finely wrought entertainment film, an encyclopedic rag-bag of curiosities, stuffed to bursting point with the minutiae of American popular culture and folk memory. It has one of the richest and most satisfying soundtracks in recent years and provides a loving treatment of American music, as well as demonstrating a true affection for the bric-a-brac of America's half-forgotten folk ways." [Art Index]

Jones, Kent.
"Airtight." Film Comment. 36 (6): 44-49. 2000 Nov-Dec.
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"O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a partially successful endeavor by Joel and Ethan Coen to move in a fresh direction. The film is a depression-era tall tale concerning three escaped convicts (George Clooney, John Tuturro, and Tim Blake Nelson) making their way home through rural Mississippi. It is a more successful slice of phantasmagoric Americana than the brothers' previous work and much dreamier and more free-form than the Coens usually allow. The Coens have never made a film so keen to embrace mysteries and marvels, and the enthusiasm is poignant even if it only succeeds 50 percent of the time. Nonetheless, the brothers must release the reins a whole lot more before they can achieve the type of lyrical, ballad-like feel that they are aiming for here." [Art Index]

Kakutani, Michiko
"In the Coen Brothers' off-kilter world, the only certainty is uncertainty." The New York Times Nov 5, 2000 pMT29(N) pMT29(L) col 1 (35 col in)

Kellman, Steven G.
"Where Art? " (movie review) Southern Quarterly Spring 2001 v39 i3 p189(2)

Kerns, Susan.
"O Homer, Where Art Thou? A Greek Classic Becomes an American Original." Xchanges 1 (2): [no pagination]. 2002 Mar.

Leiter, Andrew B.
""That old-timey music" : nostalgia and the Southern tradition in O brother, where art thou?." In: Southerners on film : essays on Hollywood portrayals since the 1970s / edited by Andrew B. Leiter. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2011.
Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.S66 S68 2011

McFarland, Douglas
"Philosophies of Comedy in O Brother, Where Art Thou?." In: Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / edited by Mark T. Conard. University Press of Kentucky, 2008
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Middleton, Richard.
"O brother, let's go down home: loss, nostalgia and the blues." Popular Music, Jan2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p47-64, 18p

Oxoby, Marc
"O brother, where art thou?" Film & History Vol XXXI nr 2 (2001); p 70-72
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Ruppersburg, Hugh.
""Oh, So Many Startlements . . .": History, Race, and Myth in O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Southern Cultures 2003 9(4): 5-26.
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"The title quotation, "oh, so many startlements," is from a Delphic prophecy uttered in an early scene of Joel and Ethan Coen's 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? and provides an exploration of mythology as the film comments on Homer's The Odyssey, Southern music and culture, race, and US politics. The author compares the film to other Southern chain-gang films, such as Mervyn LeRoy's 1932 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Preston Sturges's 1941 Sullivan's Travels, Stuart Rosenberg's 1967 Cool Hand Luke, and Jim Jarmusch's 1986 Down by Law. These films weave depression-era stories and Southern tall tales to portray racial prejudices, economic injustices, judicial inequalities, and spiritual quests." [America: History and Life]

Rushforth, Brett.
"O brother, where art thou?" Reviews in American History, Jun2004, Vol. 32 Issue 2, p151-158, 8p

Schirato, Tony; Webb, Jenn
"Technology, Reason and Globalisation?-O, Brother!" Social Semiotics, 2004, 14, 3, Dec, 273-287
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"The Coen Brothers' movie O Brother Where Art Thou is a ragbag of intertexts & gags that also pays very serious attention to questions of community & culture, class & race. In tracing the path of the protagonists through Depression-era Mississippi, it takes its audiences through the experience of social transformation, from superstition & local concerns to a supposedly brave new (global & technological) world. Although the film is set in a distant time & place, it is informed by a very contemporary issue - the politics of technology, & its relation to the forces of globalization. It is also a film that exemplifies what Certeau describes as the "cleavage which organizes modernity", a cleavage designated by the terms "science" (which is predicated on a law of rationality, & an imperative to explain, control & order) & "culture". We analyze the work of the film by drawing on the writings of Manuel Castells, Arjun Appadurai & Armand Mattelart to trace its explication of the questions of progress & communication in a world increasingly dominated by neo-liberal values." [Sociological Abstracts]

Scott, A.O.
"Hail, Ulysses, escaped convict." (Review) The New York Times Dec 22, 2000 pB1(N) pE1(L) col 1 (35 col in)
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Scovill, Ruth
"Newfangled filmmaking" Animation Magazine v. 14 no. 7 (July/August 2000) p. 112
"The use of digital-intermediate and digital-mastering technology on O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen, is discussed. Cinematographer Roger Deakins advised the Coens to use digital intermediate technology to achieve a faded-photograph look they envisioned for the film's background, without altering natural skin tones. The writer argues that this sort of technology is the way of the future and predicts that it will some day be common practice for directors and cinematographers to finish their films in an interactive digital environment." [Art Index]

Seeley, Tracy
"O Brother, What Art Thou?: Postmodern Pranksterism, or Parody with a Purpose?" Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p97-106, 10p
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Spiro, John-Paul.
"You're Very Beautiful...Are You in Pictures?": Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the Purposes of Art. Post Script, Winter2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p62-72, 11p
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Toscano, Margaret M.
"Homer Meets the Coen Brothers: Memory as Artistic Pastiche in O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies Volume 39.2 (Fall 2009) pp. 49-62
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