Sunday, 1 January 2012

similarities between o brother where art thou and the odyssey

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Here are the similarities that I found between the two......

Its based on Homers Odyssey, but having only a very foggy memory of the Odyssey I only got a few references the washer women who seduce Pete = Sirens, John Goodman = the Cyclops, the blind guy on the railway = Tiresias the blind seer.

The Lotus-Eaters chapter in the Odyssey is re-invented as the baptism scene in O Brother. Here, Odysseus/Ulysses McGills crew are seduced by these drugged and indulgent people whose sweet fruit (the lotus flower/religious faith) makes them forget woes and thus their journey. Also, the picnic scene where Goodmans character (Cyclops) throws a number of gastronomic related words into his discourse after having a hearty feed could be an allusion to Odysseus encounter with the Cannibals (Lestrygonians)...?

Sing in me O Muse... the line at the beginning of the film... is the first line of the Odyssey. The killing of the cattle of Helios by the fools is mirrored by Baby Face Nelson shooting the cows. A man of constant sorrow is a description of Odysseus himself... The daughters make reference to Waldrip, Hes a suitor! Odysseus being cast up in a shipwreck and being delivered by the gods...

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Other allusion Penelope was Os wifes name. What about any significance to number of children? Their being tied together by string? and Ps impossible demands re the ring.?P in Odyssey made impossible demands but to the suitors and knit something and unravelled what she had done so as never to finish it.

In the Odysey, Odysseus goes to Circes island. I think he was told not to eat the cows or theyd get turned into swine, and Odysseus men dont obey and get turned into swine. In Oh Brother, they eat horse meat and shortly after get turned in to the pigs Lotus eaters equals the born again Christians (see the following link) http//atschool.eduweb.co.uk/40006a/odyssey/od.htm. The sirens singing so beautifully that the men will forget theyre purpose. In the Odyssey, Odysseus had been warned to put wax in his ears to protect him. (Perhaps George Clooney was saved by his Brill cream). One of Odysseuss men (who died) they see in the underworld as a ghost. He warns them of some problems. The guy back on the chain gang, who they thought was dead, represents this. He warns them not to search for the treasure. Odysseus sneaks into the house disguised as a beggar, then he wins the day by stringing a bow and arrow in a contest (which nobody else could), then getting rid of all the suitors and enemies. The men in the movie are disguised in beards, and win the day with their hit song. Penelope finally knows Odysseus, because Odysseus knows the secret of her bed. It was made from the stump of an oak tree which the bedroom was built around. In the movie, he finds the ring inside the oak desk. Im not sure about the clashing rocks which Odysseus ship were able to pass through. (which represent pairs of opposites that a hero must pass through). Two coffins may have represented this, when the sherrif was going to hang them. The sherrif had with him a hound of hell.

-John Turturros cousin at the beginning is Calypso who looks after them in her (his) cave (shack) but finally betrays them.

-The cattle of the sun are the cows who are shot and bring grief to Odysseus/Ulysses.

-I think the cleverest allusion to the Odyssey is from the chapter Scylla and Charybdis. If you remember Charybdis is a whirlpool and Scylla the monster waiting on the shore between whom Odysseus must navigate his ship and crew. But in the film these two obstacles are played by the two political candidates - both as monstrous as each other.

-Odysseus wife Penelope, who is the whole reason for the Odyssey, is called Penny in the film

-There are heaps and heaps of allusions - too many to go into here. But some of the most interesting are in how the film veers away from the Odyssey. e.g. Odysseus son Telemachus = six daughters tied by string.

Odysseus puts out the eye of the Cyclops with a spike...George Clooney throws the spiked Ku Klux Klan flag which almost hits John Goodman in the eye. Goodman catches the flag, but then gets flattened by the cross.

-- One of Odysseuss men (who died) they see in the underworld as a ghost. He warns them of some problems. The guy back on the chain gang, who they thought was dead, represents this. He warns them not to search for the treasure. --

I havent seen the movie, but the shadow youre referring to in the Odyssey is Elpinor. He was one of Odysseuss crew members who fell off a roof and died on Circes or Calypsos Island. Odysseus left hastily and did not give Elpinor a proper burial. As a ghost, Elpinor asks Odysseus to go back and bury his body.

When Calypso sent Odysseus from her island she gave him provisions which were lost when his raft was destroyed in a storm. When the gang left Petes brother they took provisions (a pig) with them which they lost (it went back with the boy) when their car broke down. The railroad car (with the blind prophet) which they used to escape from the prison is similar to the raft used by Odysseus to escape from his prison (Calypso). The policeman with the sunglasses represents Poseidon.

The cross was burning. The spike Odysseus used was heated red hot in a fire first.

This may be glaringly obvious, but the Roman equivalent of the name Odysseus was Ulysses. When Everett introduces himself, his real first name is Ulysses. Anybody know why the racist bad-guy was named Homer? Not much of a compliment if you ask me.

When Ulysses wins back Penelope, you think the story is over (coming out of the town hall meeting) but then, for some reason he takes a boat oar and walks north until the people no longer recognize it as a boat oar (the random quest of getting the ring)

Could the blind man have been the Oracle at Delhpi or in this case PhilaDELPHIa, MS? Pappy ODaniel as Odysseus father figure and ultimate champion? No one has mentioned Ithaca, Mississippi yet and Ithaca Greece as his final destination. Kind of obvious, but what the heck. There were many hymns in this movie--a possible reference to the Homeric Hymns? And lastly, Pete and Delmar...since it is hard to make ocean references set in central Mississippi, I assume that Peter refers to the apostle who was a fisherman and Delmar simply means of the sea.

p.s. What about all the GDs? I am from Mississippi and even now using GD will make peoples skin crawl. Its like the C word. You just dont do it. I thought this was way out of character for the setting. Any opinions?

You asked about the excessive use of GD in the film. Its been a long time since I read any of the Odyssey but , if it is a reference , it probably refers to Ulysses cursing the gods for all the obstacles placed in his way. Just a guess.

Still havent READ the Odyssey, but a flick through my Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable tells me that only Ulysses could draw his own bow, and he could shoot an arrow through 1 rings. By this sign Penelope recognized her husband after an absence of 0 years. - I think this relates to the retrieval of the ring from the desk; at the very end of the movie, Penny tells Everett/Ulysses that he has found the wrong wedding ring, and needs to go back if they are to remarry. Does that indicate that the poor guy will need to go back another 10 times before shell finally have him?!

The Sirenes combined elements of the Sirens and Circe. Circe turned Odysseuss men into pigs Delmar thought the Sirenes had turned Pete into a frog, and Pete later said they had trussed him up like a pig.

This is an extremely subtle point that I love In the Odyssey, the only time Odysseus really gets angry and loses his cool is when Penelope is testing him to see if he is really her husband. In O Brother, the first and only time Ulysses Everett gets angry and loses his cool is when Penny demands that he go to the cabin to get her ring.

In O Brother, the Greek gods are replaced by the Southern American Baptist conception of God and Satan. The sheriff is Satan (as evidenced by his always being associated with fire); the water of the flood which saves Ulysses Everett and his men from Satan are a baptism from the Christian god. There is no Poseidon, Zeus, Athena because the religion of Homers time has been updated to the religion of 10s Mississippi.

In O Brother, land represents sea, and vice versa. Odysseuss sea voyage is replaced by a road trip, and the cars Ulysses Everett constantly acquires and loses represent Odysseuss succession of ships and rafts. The 600-foot lake to which Ulysses Everett must travel at the end of the movie, represents Odysseuss last quest to carry an oar so far inland that people there do not recognize it.

In O Brother, Ulysses Everett keeps introducing himself by his real name, making it easier for the sheriff to track him. In the Odyssey, Odysseus tells Cyclops his real name, allowing the monster to curse him with Poseidens wrath.

Well, like some others out there I just saw the movie. Here is something I noticed right away, though couldnt really say until I checked the reference. When Odysseus eventually flees the Cyclops cave, he and his remaining men do so by hiding under the bellies of the goats the Cyclops herds/devours. Everett and his men enter the KKK scene disguised as KKK members - in effect under the belly of the KKK disguise. The reference would work better if John Goodman had been the Grand Duke (or whatever they call him)and thus the shepherd of the flock, but I think the reference still stands. I think its one of my favorite as well, for the fact that it (through a manner of interpretation) depicts the KKK members as goats/sheep.

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