PS1264 2nd Paper - The Justice System as Portrayed by...

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The Justice System as Portrayed by Fargo and The Thin Blue Line By Emily Wilson PS 1264: American Politics Through Film Professor Hurwitz 1
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The reputation of the justice system in the United States has steadily deteriorated over the years. Some people argue that this is due to individuals simply losing faith in the government and figures of authority. Individual viewpoints on trusting the government and authority figures reached a pivotal point after Watergate was exposed in 1972. People’s belief in the inherent good of the government and public officials was lost. In recent years, many films portray the government and more specifically the justice system as severely flawed. The so-called “rose- colored glasses” were off. We see two very different portrayals of the justice system in the films Fargo and The Thin Blue Line . Fargo , a crime and dark comedy film by the Coen brothers focuses on a police chief, Marge, investigating a series of homicides in the Midwest. The Thin Blue Line is a documentary film by Errol Morris focusing on Randall Dale Adams, a man convicted of the murder of a police officer he did not commit. These two films portray strikingly different views about the justice system. Fargo portrays the justice system as being competent and effective, while The Thin Blue Line portrays the justice system as anything but competent and effective. These differences can be seen in the tone, characters, settings, and dialog of the films. The films share certain characteristics as well, such as plot points, certain character traits, and musical scores that enhance the film viewer’s experience. Fargo portrays the justice system as “getting it right” or solving crimes swiftly and accurately. The film focuses on a small town pregnant police chief, Marge, who is investigating a triple homicide including the murder of a policeman. The general tone of this film is comedic and almost light-hearted. Many scenes in the film that portray events that are not traditionally considered funny, such as putting dead bodies in a wood chipper, are indeed comical and make the audience want to laugh even though they are gruesome as well. The setting of the film is the Midwest in the dead of winter. The characters in Fargo are mostly Midwestern individuals who 2
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are “Minnesota nice,” meaning they are very polite and friendly almost to a fault.
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