This project of the Coen brothers, George Clooney did not hesitate long before validating it. So seduced by the talent of the two brothers, the actor chose to embark on this film even before reading the script. A script that did not disappoint him when he finally took a look at it.
The origin of the title
But where does the title O’Brother come from? Some say it refers to the film Sullivan’s Travels by Preston Sturges which follows a filmmaker attempting to make the film O’Brother, where art you? The Coen brothers would also have been inspired by the lyrics of the song “Down in the river to pray”: Oh brother, let’s go down in the river to pray.” A song sung in one of the scenes of the film: the one in which White Christians are washed away from their sins in a river.
A real Odyssey
For this story, the Coen brothers were inspired by a universal work: The Odyssey, by Homer. The two filmmakers transposed this story into the 1930s. An inspiration that shines through in certain details of the film, notably the nickname of one of the main characters (Ulysses), the one-eyed giant Big Dan Teague, which is a nod to Cyclops or yet another statue of Homer that appears during the Everett/Big Dan Teague encounter.
A hint of reality
Some O’Brother characters do not come from the imagination of the Coen brothers but are directly inspired by real characters. Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King) was a blues musician who lived between 1896 and 1956. George “Babyface” Nelson (Michael Badalucco) is a real mobster, bank robber and murderer who plagued the 1930s.
If O’Brother marks the spirits so much, it is also by its soundtrack bringing together traditional titles of country, blues or even folk. Songs interpreted in particular by Chris Thomas King, Harry McClintock or The Stanley Brothers. “The ubiquitous music fits so naturally into the story that you don’t even realize it’s a musical. The whole thing causes a light and very pleasant euphoria”, we wrote in First.
John Turturro, a devotee of the Coen universe
Present in the casting of the film, John Turturro was not his first collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen. Before O’Brother, the brilliant actor has already plunged into the dark and quirky universe of the two brothers by filming in Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink and the unforgettable The Big Lebowski.
The cult film by the Coen brothers is to be seen again this evening on Arte.
Joel And Ethan Coen, return tonight on the small screen. And this thanks to the 7th channel which offers to (re)discover O’Brothera comedy carried by George Clooney, John Turturro, John Goodman And Tim Blake Nelson.
In Mississippi, during the Great Depression, three prisoners on the run, chained to each other, decide to go in search of the loot from a bank robbery, amounting to more than a million dollars. George Clooney improvises himself as a gang leader by embodying Ulysses, followed by his acolytes John Turturro (alias Pete the grumpy) and Tim Blake Nelson (Delmar the simpleton).
George Clooney’s Five Best Scenes
“O’Brother functions as a random accumulation of picaresque events, was written in First when it was released in the summer of 2000. The interest arises from the ability of the heroes to adapt to reality. Everyone is changing, for better and for worse. The Coens themselves have evolved. Irony and sarcasm have disappeared to give way to an increasingly felt affection for characters who are nonetheless naive or simpletons. Nor is the cruelty of life ever ignored, even when it takes the fantastical and mind-blowing form of mermaids. (…) The Coens visually peaked. With its period settings, quaint costumes and oddly faded photograph of Roger Deakins, the image has the style and force of a Crumb drawing. The ubiquitous music fits so naturally into the story that you don’t even realize it’s a musical. The whole thing causes a light and very pleasant euphoria.”
Before finding O’Brother this evening, here are some anecdotes about a work that has become cult, illustrated by unforgettable images from the film.
The Coen brothers are obsessed with circles