O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Modern Adaptation of Homer's Odyssey Essay

O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Modern Adaptation of Homer's Odyssey Essay

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The film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a reinterpretation of the epic poem The Odyssey. The Coen brothers, writers and directors of the film, did not over analyze their representation. “It just sort of occurred to us after we’d gotten into it somewhat that it was a story about someone going home, and sort of episodic in nature, and it kind of evolved into that,” says Joel Coen in Blood Siblings, “It’s very loosely and very sort of unseriously based on The Odyssey” (Woods 32). O Brother, Where Art Thou? contains ideas from The Odyssey for the sake of modernization and entertainment of an audience that comprehends the allusions to the epic. The Coen brothers utilize elements of Homer’s The Odyssey to improve and to give direction to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a reinterpretation which was made simply to show that an epic-adventure such as The Odyssey could be modernized to apply to modern times.
The film begins with a summoning of the Muse taken from Homer’s summons in The Odyssey. The writers pray to a higher power to tell them the story “of that man skilled in all the ways of contending…A wanderer, harried for years on end” (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). This is a direct and purposeful quote from Robert Fitzgerald’s 1961 translation of The Odyssey. By opening O Brother, Where Art Thou? with the same invocation of the Muse as Homer, the Coens creates a direct correlation between the two works early on. This tells the audience that they should expect the direction of the plot to mimic that of The Odyssey.
The main characters of each work are automatically associated with each other by their names, but they also share similar personalities and characteristics. Odysseus is a wily hero of the Trojan War who uses his deceptive...


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...ed elements of the epic poem to improve and give direction to their work.


Works Cited

Burke, Daniel. "RNS Feature: "The Coen Brothers' Complicated Gospel"" Religion News Service. 28 Sept. 2009. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. .
Homer. The Odyssey: Fitzgerald Translation. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. Print.
Jase. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" The Lamia Myth. 3 Jan. 2010. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. .
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Dir. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Perf. George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro. Studio Canal, Working Title Films, 2000. DVD.
Woods, Paul A., ed. Blood Siblings: The Cinema of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Grand Rapids: Plexus, 2000. Print.

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