20 Things You Didn't Know About O Brother, Where Art Thou?

You shall hear thangs wonderful to tell.

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Odysseus, the hero of ancient Greek legend, spent twenty years between leaving his home in Ithaka to fight in the Trojan War and finally returning after an epic journey. So, it seems reasonable to wait that same two decades before making our own return to what is perhaps the greatest (and least faithful) cinematic spin on Odysseus' adventures.

Yes, it's been over twenty years since the Coen brothers unleashed their idiosyncratic musically-driven reimagining of The Odyssey as a screwball comedy about three idiots escaping a Mississippi chain gang during the Great Depression. And in that time it has only grown in stature, its iconic soundtrack forging changes in the musical landscape and its influence helping turn star George Clooney into a Hollywood A-lister.

As you may expect from a bluegrass musical 1930s American-set adaptation of a classical Greek epic starring a former TV doctor and failed Batman turned matinee idol, O Brother, Where Art Thou? has an enormous array of sources, references and weird production details.

So, let's take an Odyssey of our own and journey through some of the hidden details you may not know about Ulysses Everett McGill and his Soggy Bottom Boys. We can assure you, they're bona fide.

20. It Started Out As More Wizard Of Oz Than The Odyssey

O Brother Where Art Thou?

While O Brother, Where Art Thou? was eventually credited as an adaptation of The Odyssey (the first Coens script to adapt an existing source), it was a different quest to return home that served as Joel and Ethan's original inspiration, one that provides another slice of sepia-toned 1930s Americana.

"We were thinking of it more as The Wizard Of Oz," Joel revealed on the movie's 15th anniversary on 2015, "We wanted the tag on the movie to be: 'There's no place like home.'"

Even after the story moved more toward picking up on the episodic beats of Homer's classical epic poem, there still remains a few residual elements of Oz in the film as released.

The scene in which our three bumbling heroes disguise themselves as Klansmen to rescue Tommy from a lynching, for example, is an homage to the similar rescue of Dorothy from the Witch's castle by her trio of bumbling sidekicks in the children's fantasy classic. The Klan even march in formation with low rhythmic chanting just like the Wicked Witch's guards.


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