Lets begin by dispelling a common misconception among the movie’s following: Julian Marty is not Greek — at least not literally. He merely references Greece in conversation parallel to how Loren Visser references Russia. Thus, the subtext of the movie immediately sets up this juxtaposition: Greece, the land of civilization, versus Russia, the land of bears. But then, the Coens immediately complicate it by assigning each symbol the other’s qualities: Greece is where “they cut off the head of the messenger” if he brings bad news, and Russia is an ordered society where everyone pulls for everyone else (“that’s the theory, anyway”, as Visser qualifies it). The line between civilization and nature, order and chaos, refinement and barbarity, reason and impulse, can never be presumed — and nowhere is this more true than in a watering hole.