Hypothetical Netflix Rating: 5 out of 5
Hands down, my favorite part about the Coen brothers’ take on Homer’s Odyssey is that neither one has ever read the Odyssey. The only one on the entire set who had actually read the text was Tim Blake Nelson who has a degree in Classics from Brown. The Coen’s wrote 2000’s O Brother based on what they knew from other film adaptions and varies other uses of the story in pop culture. It’s impressive to see how many references they manage to work in without actually knowing the story. Sirens, cyclops, blind prophets, cows, they got a lot of it right and threw it into depression era south.
The film follows George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson, who after breaking out of a chain gang, journey the south in search of treasure. Clooney plays Odysseus. Hubris and all. Their adventure leads them through laughs, thrills, and even songs. This film has it all.
If you, like the Coens, haven’t read to source text don’t worry. This movie stands one hundred percent on its own.
Another thing about this film: the soundtrack. I dare you, nay, defy you to watch this movie and not get the song stuck in your head. If you’ve seen this movie before, you know damn well which song I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it, watch and learn. The ear buggiest of the ear buggiest.
Ultimately, O Brother is one of those movies that you could indeed play on a loop and enjoy for different reasons on each viewing. There are references to not just the Odyssey, but several other films. Everything from Wizard of Oz to Evil Dead, the later of which Joel Coen worked as an assistant editor on, one of his first credits. Yeah, if you haven’t seen this one yet, get on it.