O Brother, Where Art Thou? - A Mississippi odyssey

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German title O Brother, Where Art Thou? - A Mississippi odyssey
Original title O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Country of production UK
original language English
Publishing year 2000
length 103 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Joel Coen
script Ethan Coen
Joel Coen
production Ethan Coen
music T-Bone Burnett
Carter Burwell
camera Roger Deakins
cut Joel and Ethan Coen (under her pen name "Roderick Jaynes")
Tricia Cooke

O Brother, Where Art Thou? - A Mississippi Odyssey is an American movie by the Coen brothers from 2000. The film is set in rural Mississippi in 1937 and is partly based on Homer's Odyssey .


The setting is the state of Mississippi in 1937, during the Great Depression . In the introduction which is Odyssey of Homer as a source of inspiration called the film. The film quotes motifs from this work through several figures and scenes.

The film begins with the escape of the three men Ulysses Everett McGill, Delmar O'Donnell and Pete, from a group of chained convicts ( chain gang ) who are used in the track construction. The goal of their escape is the place where Everett claims to have buried the booty of his last raid. But speed is of the essence, because the hiding place for the prey is said to be in a valley that will be flooded in four days by the Arkabutla Lake dam. The three companions begin their escape with the help of a blind railroad trolley driver who has visionary skills and makes some prophecies: On their escape they would find a treasure, but not the one they were looking for. The next stop of the three escaped is the house of Pete's cousin Wash. Takes them on first, but reveals them later for a reward to the evil Sheriff Cooley (chasing them through the film as Poseidon Odysseus and one of Cerberus reminding dog carries with him). With the help of Wash's son, the trio manage to escape from the sheriff.

The journey turns into an adventurous odyssey. Everett, Pete and Delmar meet the black blues guitarist Tommy Johnson , who claims to have sold his soul to the devil. At Mr. Lund's radio station, the trio and Tommy introduce themselves as the "Soggy Bottom Boys". For ten dollars a nose they record a song that quickly becomes a huge hit in Mississippi - which they don't find out as they continue their flight. During the night, the convicts' car is discovered by the police, and Tommy and the trio part ways for the time being. The next day the convicts meet the bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson , who raids a bank and leaves it during the night.

The next day the convicts are seduced by three beautiful sirens on a river . When Everett and Delmar wake up again, Pete has disappeared, only his clothes and a toad are still there. Delmar believes the sirens turned Pete into the toad and treats him with the utmost care. On their further journey they meet the one-eyed Bible seller Big Dan, who is reminiscent of a cyclops . Big Dan invites Everett and Delmar out for a picnic, then robbing them and crushing the toad.

Eventually Everett, still Delmar at his side, arrives in his hometown. The promised "treasure" does not exist, but Everett fled from prison solely because of his ex-wife Penny (an allusion to Penelope , the wife of Odysseus). He wants to prevent her from her upcoming marriage to the successful campaign manager Vernon T. Waldrip. Later, Everett and Delmar discover that Pete was not turned into a toad, but was instead brought to the sheriff by the sirens and is now a prisoner again. They sneak into his cell and free him. The fact that Everett persuaded them to flee on the wrong pretext causes severe displeasure between Pete and Everett. But then the trio suddenly comes across a gathering of the Ku Klux Klan that Tommy wants to hang . They disguise themselves as members of the clan and are able to free Tommy, where the Bible seller and clan member Big Dan is killed by a burning cross.

In Mississippi, the governor election is pending , although it looks bad for the conservative incumbent Menelaus Pappy O'Daniel. Things are going well for the progressive opponent Homer Stokes, who is secretly the grandmaster of the Ku Klux Klan. At a campaign gala for Stokes, the three escapes and Tommy dress up as musicians so that Everett can win back the Penny, who is also present. The four Soggy Bottom Boys play their radio hit to the delight of the audience; but Candidate Stokes recognizes the musicians as those who disrupted his meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. Stokes drops vicious, racist remarks against the popular Soggy Bottom Boys; then the crowd throws him out of the hall. Candidate Pappy O'Daniel, who no longer has to fear an opponent, pardons the prisoners and takes them on to his campaign team. Penny now wants to marry Everett again if he finds the ring from their first wedding.

The next morning Everett, Pete, Delmar and Tommy look for the ring, which is said to be in a forest cabin; Everett had previously claimed that this was where the treasure was. Suddenly Sheriff Cooley shows up with his people and wants to hang them all despite the pardon. When Everett prays to God, the valley is flooded and they manage to escape. Since Everett took the wrong ring, Penny insists that he keep looking for the right one - even if it is now lying at the bottom of a lake.



The title ("O brother, where are you?") Is in Early New English , as it was spoken in Shakespeare's time, and pays homage to Preston Sturge's classic film Sullivan's Travels from 1941. In this comedy, a director wants a film with the same title turning about the Great Depression and wandering through America for it.

The question “Where are you?” / “Where art thou?” Again refers literally to the Bible . In the Garden of Eden , Adam and Eve forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge and then hide from God. But he seeks her and calls for Adam (Genesis 3: 9). At the same time, the film title alludes to God's question to Cain about the fratricide: "Where is your brother Abel ?" / "Where is Abel your brother ?" (Genesis 4:19).

The film is set in 1937 and features two historical figures, the blues musician Tommy Johnson and the gangster Babyface Nelson . The latter, however, was already dead in 1937; he had died in 1934 as a result of an exchange of fire with the FBI . The character of Menelaus Pappy O'Daniels is not directly historical, but modeled on two governors: W. Lee O'Daniel , who won the election in Texas with the help of a radio broadcast in 1938 , and Jimmie Davis , governor of Louisiana , who wrote the song You Are My Sunshine wrote that in the film it is also the theme song for the election campaign.


The music in this film is not just used as background music. Starting with the work songs of the convicts at the beginning of the film to the meeting with the blues musician Tommy Johnson to the appearance of the fugitives as Soggy Bottom Boys at an election campaign event, the music carries essential parts of the plot and gives an impression of the most important musical styles in the rural south of the USA in the 1930s like blues , bluegrass, and other early country music called old-time music .

The bluegrass musician Alison Krauss contributed Down to the River to Pray , sung a cappella and accompanied by a choir to the film music. Leading actor George Clooney sings Man of Constant Sorrow , the hit of the Soggy Bottom Boys in the film not himself; the singing voice lent him Dan Tyminski , a member of the band of Alison Krauss, Union Station . The bluegrass musician Gillian Welch , who also worked on the soundtrack, took on a small guest role in the record shop. The old-time musicians David Holt and Ed Snodderly also had guest appearances in the role of the village idiots (referred to as Village Idiots in the credits ), who accompanied the FBI agents with George Nelson in the crowd to the prison. They play the song Indian War Whoop with fiddle and banjo .

The producer of the soundtrack, which appeared on Lost Highway , sold more than five million copies and won three Grammys , was T-Bone Burnett .

German synchronization

The German-language dubbed version was created in 2000 for the German cinema premiere under dialogue direction by Sven Hasper , who also wrote the dialogue book.

role actor German Voice actor
Ulysses Everett McGill George Clooney Detlef Bierstedt
Pete John Turturro Stefan Fredrich
Delmar O'Donnell Tim Blake Nelson Joachim Tennstedt
penny Holly Hunter Cornelia Meinhardt
Big Dan Teague John Goodman Klaus Sunshine
Tommy Johnson Chris Thomas King Kim Hasper
Governor Pappy O'Daniel Charles Durning Hans Teuscher
Candidate Homer Stokes Wayne Duvall Hans-Werner Bussinger
George "Babyface" Nelson Michael Badalucco Tobias Master
Sheriff Cooley Daniel von Bargen Frank Glaubrecht
Vernon T. Waldrip, Penny's fiance Ray McKinnon Udo Schenk
Mr. Lund, radio station owner Stephen Root Andreas Mannkopff
Wash Hogwallop, Pete's cousin Frank Collison Erich Rauker
the blind seer Lee Weaver Michael Chevalier
the little man" Ed Gale Santiago Ziesmer
Junior O'Daniel, Pappy's son Del Pentecost Timmo Niesner
Daddy's 1st campaign manager JR Horne Friedrich G. Beckhaus
Daddy's 2nd campaign manager Brian Reddy Kaspar Eichel


source rating
Rotten tomatoes

O Brother, Where Art Thou? was received positively by critics.

“At first glance, a minimalist film, but one that opens up many possibilities for reference and reveals its roots in the Bible, ancient poetics and American cultural history. A postmodern film in a positive sense, which knows how to cleverly set its codes and symbols. "


O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2001 was for the Golden Globe Award in the Best Picture (Musical / Comedy) nominated, but which in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous - Almost famous left. George Clooney received the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role . Cinematographer Roger Deakins was also nominated for Best Cinematography and the Coen Brothers for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2001 Academy Awards.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Article on "Sullivan's Travels" at the New Yorker
  2. Bible quote
  3. IMDb Trivia
  4. German synchronous files
  5. a b [1] at Rotten Tomatoes , accessed on March 2, 2015
  6. a b [2] at Metacritic , accessed on March 2, 2015
  7. ^ O Brother, Where Art Thou? - A Mississippi odyssey in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  8. ^ O Brother, Where Art Thou? - A Mississippi odyssey. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used