It's loosely based on the Odyssey. One of the fun things is noticing the connections. Religion permeates the film. That makes sense since the gods are so central to the Odyssey.
-Review by Darrel Manson
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This page was created on June 20, 2000
This page was last updated on May 16, 2005

Directed by Joel Coen
Writing credits: Homer (poem The Odyssey) Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

George Clooney .... Everett Ulysses McGill
John Turturro .... Pete Tim
Blake Nelson .... Delmar
Charles Durning .... Pappy O'Daniel
John Goodman .... Big Dan Teague
Michael Badalucco .... George Nelson
Holly Hunter .... Penny
Stephen Root .... Radio Station Man
Chris Thomas King .... Tommy Johnson
Wayne Duvall .... Homer Stokes
Daniel von Bargen .... Sheriff Cooley
J.R. Horne .... Pappy's Staff
Brian Reddy .... Pappy's Staff
Frank Collison .... Wash Hogwallop
Ray McKinnon .... Vernon T. Waldrip
Del Pentecost .... Junior O'Daniel

Produced by Tim Bevan (executive), John Cameron (co-producer), Ethan Coen Eric Fellner (executive), Robert Graf (associate)
Original music by T-Bone Burnett, Chris Thomas King (songs)
Cinematography by Roger Deakins

Rated PG-13 for some violence and language

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1. Po Lazarus - J. Carter & Prisoners 2. Big Rock Candy Mountain - Harry McLintock 3. You Are My Sunshine - Norman Blake 4. Down In The River To Pray - Alison Krauss 5. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys featuring Dan Tyminski 6. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Chris Thomas King 7. Man Of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental) - Norman Blake 8. Keep On The Sunny Side - The Whites 9. I'll Fly Away - Gillian Welch & Alison Krauss 10. Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby - Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss & Emmylou Harris 11. In The Highways - The Peasall Sisters 12. I Am Weary - The Cox Family 13. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental) - John Hartford 14. O Death - Ralph Stanley 15. In The Jailhouse Now - The Soggy Bottom Boys featuring Tim Blake Nelson 16. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (With band) - The Soggy Bottom Boys featuring Dan Tyminski 17. Indian War Whoop (Instrumental) - John Hartford 18. Lonesome Valley - The Fairfield Four 19. Angel Band - The Stanley Brothers
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They have a plan, but not a clue!
In the Depression-era deep South, three escapees from a Mississippi prison chain gang: Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney), sweet and simple Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), and the perpetually angry Pete (John Turturro), embark on the adventure of a lifetime as they set out to pursue their freedom and return to their homes. With nothing to lose and still in shackles, they make a hasty run for their lives and end up on an incredible journey filled with challenging experiences and colorful characters, such as Big Dan Teague (John Goodman). However, they must also match wits with the cunning and mysterious lawmen, Cooley, who tracks the men, bent on bringing the trio back to the prison farm. An exciting and entertaining blend of high adventure, humor and heartfelt emotion, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is written by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, directed by Joel Coen, two of today's preeminent filmmakers who put their own unique modern-day spin on Homer's Classic tale of "The Odyssey."
Pastor, Artesia Christian Church, Artesia, CA

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the latest offering from Joel and Ethan Coen. You probably like Coen Brother movies (Miller's Crossing, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Fargo) or you don't. I split on them, but I do like O Brother.

Click to enlargeIt's loosely based on the Odyssey. One of the fun things is noticing the connections, but don't get carried away with that, because they are just brief touches and the story really has some major differences from Homer's story. In fact, if you're a fan of Homer, you may be very upset if you go thinking you're going to see the Odyssey.

Click to enlargeThe story is set in Mississippi during the Depression and deals with three escaped convicts led by Ulysses Everett Gill (George Clooney) on their way to grab a $1,200,000 stash from an armor car robbery. Like Odysseus (aka Ulysses) they come across various characters and obstacles on the way.

Religion permeates the film. That makes sense since the gods are so central to the Odyssey. But here, it is not the gods involved in the story, rather there is mass baptism (in which two of the characters are baptized), the song "I'll Fly Away", one side character who has sold his soul to the devil, the use of the cross by the Ku Klux Klan.

And there is praying and miracles. That they make it back to Everett's home could probably be seen as miraculous as Odysseus' return to Ithaca, but Everett is a skeptic. When his two companions are baptized, washing away their guilt and transgressions (and in their mind the robberies they've committed), Everett ridicules them. Later, when they've been caught and are about to be hung, Everett breaks out in a fervent prayer for forgiveness and deliverance. When the deliverance comes, he immediately returns to his skepticism. And yet, there are things he just can't explain. Not unlike (I think) most people.

If you like "old-timey" music, that is reason enough see O Brother. I'm not a fan of country music, but this had me wanting to find a Soggy Bottom Boys CD.

Subject: O_Brother_Where_Art_Thou
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001
From: Roger B.

In response to Ethan's question about the blind people in the film. Homer the poet was reputed to be blind--which is why I think the elderly sage railroad hand cart operator is blind. The "cyclops" is, of course, only blind in one eye--although he almost gets that one good eye taken out by the sharpened stake of the confederate flag--great parody of the cyclops in the Odyssey. I loved this movie, the music, the photography and the acting. I personally think it is the best thing Clooney has done--he wasn't just playing a "handsome George Clooney-type." Part of the spirituality I think that needs to be recognized is that of the Quest--Everitt has continual faith/hope that things will turn out OK. They will eventually find the "treasure," although it is not the treasure that they thought it was.
Roger B.

Subject: O_Brother_Where_Art_Thou
Date: 6 Jul 2001
From: Ethan efro21@icqmail.com

Great movie--Anyone have any idea what the significance the eyes have in this movie? There must be at least five characters with unusual eyes; either blind, or missing one, or wearing sunglasses. It has been a while since I've read the Odyssey. Are these all classical references to Homer? Or is there a good spiritual reason for giving the characters different eye conditions?
Feel free to post my e-mail address:
Ethan <>

Subject: oh and a darn Good Review from David as always
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001
From: The Muters

Per Usual you have done a wonderful Job of hitting the nail on the head with the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, you speak truthfully about the movies redeeming qualities but do not hestiate to mention that as with all movies there are things that we would not want as part of our lives as Christians. But lets face it folks this type of film is more real life than we would like to admit, as a matter of fact it reminded me of a living parable really, because just like the Bible it shows the ugly side of humans while also showing them trying to figure out thier relationship with God and trying to figure out thier place in the world!!! I am not a Clooney fan by any shake of the imagination but he does a wonderful job in this. I also have to say that I do not buy CD's much anymore but the music from this movie hit me so hard that I ran out the next day and bought the CD and I have had three people ask me where they can get a copy cause they heard me playing it at the Church that I am a Intern pastor at. Anywho, I suggest this movie to one and all it is a wonderful and fun movie with a very meaningful message, even if the Coen brothers didn't mean for it to carry such a message! Christ is Risen, Lets live as if this is true and celebrate our new life in him
Midnight Matthew

Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001
From: Betty Hamm

We just saw "O Brother,..." Friday night and loved it. I will admit, I am a Coen brothers fan but I was surprised by this latest work. I felt it lacked the over-the-top feel of their other works. I grew up on this music and have known and/or been related to many people like those portrayed. I felt it was a fair telling for the 1937 south with the tongue only slightly in cheek. I loved the cinematography, scenes that were over exposed, or colored. I was amazed at the portrayal of religion. The choir in the baptism scene was phenomenal. I did not feel as though it was mocking religion in the way so many movies do. Very interesting the conversation later in the car. Everett keeps insisting that he has been forgiven and Ulysses points out that even if God has forgiven you the state of Mississippi has not. That is true. We can experience total forgiveness and cleansing from God, regardless of how heinous our sin; Christ's blood covers it all. However, we could still have earthly consequences for our actions. My husband is much more familiar with Homer's Odyssey than I am, so he helped me follow the parallels such as the Cyclops and others. I plan on seeing the movie again. I thought it was great.
-- Mrs. Betty T. Hamm
Fine Arts Director Evangelical Free Church,
Naperville Il (630) 983-3232

Subject: If you DO like traditional gospel music...
Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2001
From: Coles

...the way it's used in this movie veers from just surreal to downright creepy. I first thought something was wrong with this picture when I heard Alison Krauss's voice coming out of about 50 baptisees. My dismay mounted throughout the film, as 90% of the music was "Sunday morning", and the activities on the screen were definitely "Saturday night," and by the time Ralph Stanley was heard at a Klu Klux Klan rally, it was all I could do to keep my seat. As the reviewer has noted, the end of the film does a nice job of showing the reality of God (and the Devil) in spite of the fact that there's been almost nothing but hypocrisy on the screen up to that point. Still, I felt that the Coen brothers just didn't really "get it". As my father pointed out to me, probably a lot of bowlers didn't care for "The Big Lebowski", and it's for sure that a lot of North Dakotans were really bugged about "Fargo", so maybe "O Brother" is just not the movie for those of us who bleed bluegrass. Although I wouldn't say no to the soundtrack by itself.

Response: It's the best CD I have heard this year. I love it. -David

O Brother, Where Are Thou?
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