Fun Fact: Only one person on the set of O Brother Where Art Thou had ever read the actual Odyssey.
O Brother came out when I was in college. At the time I delivered pizzas in a Ford Tempo without a muffler or a stereo. I worked nights and the radio was my constant companion. When commercials were on every rock station, I relented and flipped over to country, where I was lucky if I’d hear an old Allman Brothers song or maybe a guilty pleasure from Garth Brooks. Mostly I encountered a miasma of over processed pop hits by Shania Twain and the like.
Then came O Brother. Suddenly the country station went back to a time long past when country music was actually good. It was raw and organic and it sounded just like someone singing their heart out into a can for a few dollars.
It’s one of my favorite retellings because it’s such a gorgeous tribute to a particular time and place. It breathes the south in the 30’s. It makes pieces of history as large and lush as mythology. Part of the fun of a retelling is finding parallels to all of the major plot points and features. That’s why I decided to write my own. It’s a tribute to a different time and place, and a whole other kind of Ulysses.