Today I am bringing to you one of my favourite films of all time, and a somewhat hidden gem at that. Coen Brothers 2000 movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’; stars the likes of George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson. I grew up on this film, and the soundtrack is one which brings me so much nostalgia and joy every time I hear it. If you’re stuck for a film to watch this lockdown, let this be the one you go for.
The film follows the story of three convicts who escape from a chain gang - a group of convicts chained together while working outside the prison. Everett (Clooney), and his two companions Pete (Turturro) and Delmar (Nelson) are on a journey to try and find some treasure Everett buried prior to going to prison. The casting for these three main characters was one which just worked from the outset. Clooney as Everett is certainly the more serious guy, better educated and set on getting to where he needs to be. Turturro has been cast as Pete who is the more neutral character, he tries to be more like Everett but when put alongside Delmar they make for hilarious scenarios. Nelson takes on the role of the ‘silly’ character Delmar, and he is the key comedic role in the trio who at one point in the film is convinced one of his companions have been turned into a toad overnight.
The film follows the three’s journey, the various people they meet and teaches you more about each character's background; and how they become a voice known in every household without even realising so. The trio end up coming across a gentleman who can play guitar, as a four they head over to a radio broadcasting building; recording a song in order to make some money. While they are still largely on the run, the tune becomes a huge hit unbeknownst to them; the significance of which is revealed much later on in the film.
While it is set in the 1930s during the great depression, the film is loosely based on Homer’s poem The Odyssey. Ulysses (the Latin for Odysseus) is Everett’s first name, with Pete and Delmar representing the soldiers who follow him from Troy to Ithaca to return home. Furthermore, Everett’s ex-wife is called Penny (corresponding with Penelope in The Odyssey). The movie even has a scene with some Sirens, singing to entice the trio to them; something which is also seen throughout Greek Mythology. There are numerous other factors throughout the movie which can be recognised as a nod to Homer’s infamous poem, that I’m sure those familiar will pick up on.
While the storyline is one which is enjoyable, and exciting to follow, the soundtrack is something which cannot go without more of a mention. Filled to the brim with feel-good tunes such as “You are my Sunshine”, “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “He’s in the Jailhouse Now”, the film holds a comedic, upbeat vibe. An absolute must watch whether you’ve seen it before or not. Always my first recommendation if somebody is looking for new things to watch. From the storyline, to the casting, to the impeccable soundtrack, my love for this film goes much further than just nostalgia.
If you've seen ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ what did you think?
Words: Emily Robbins-Pugh (@sugarspunemily)