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O Brother Where Art Thou

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The Coen brothers movie "O brother, where art thou?" is an exciting story, full of adventure and comedy, and if nothing but its comedic and entertainment value were taken into account, it would still be considered a great film. However the movie is not just an entertaining story. More so it is a vastly rich tale, which provides great insight into human nature, with many parallels to life in the modern world. Originally, it would seem that a story based during the great depression, would have no relevance to life in this technological age of the 21st century. The reality is that the central issues that face us, remain constant throughout the ages. Through the use of multiple themes and characterisation, particularly those of Everett Ulysses McGill, the Coen brothers have created a relevant and understandable perspective on life.

The film's central synopsis on life can be broken down into three elements. Firstly, the dreams we have for life. Secondly, the journeys we undergo and the various people we meet along the way. Finally, the adversaries we face, things placed in our path in an attempt to foil our plans. These three elements are seen throughout the story of Everett.

Everett's "dream" or his "goal" in the story was initially to get back with his wife, see his girls, and then, as fairy tales go, live happily ever after. This is quite like the dream we all share for our lives: to find love and live happily. However, as Everett found, at the end of the journey the goals we achieve are often quite different to the goals we had in mind when we set out. The blind Seer quite rightly states, "... you will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek ..." As the journey progresses, Everett also begins seeking the wealth of both riches and wisdom. He finds a need to belong, to have companionship and support. Everett's statement, " you're against me too? ... The whole world, God almighty, and now you", illustrates his devastation at the thought his friends had abandoned him. Another issue explored is the need for salvation. However this is far more important to Pete and Delmar, as seen when they are both baptized while Everett remained on the shore. Eventually Everett too gives in to the need for salvation, when the trio is about to be hung. Finally Everett seeks answers, and this search for answers is one of the main themes of the movie. Everett himself makes the remark "Everybody's lookin' for answers." Each of these different goals is as important as the last, and though they may not be pursued in a conscious manner, all are pursued nonetheless. Life in the modern world is no different, as we all have dreams and aspirations.

Throughout Everett's travels he encounters many people, each unique in their own way. These people either help or hinder the progress of the journey. But each play important roles in developing plot, and adding contrast and perspective to the nature of Everett's character. This range of people represents the incredibly diverse society we live in, in the modern world. Everett is very intelligent and witty, well educated in both academic and "street" knowledge. He is very resourceful, cunning and confident, knowing how to get what he wants "I detect, like me, you're endowed with the gift of gab". He is an organized man who has a plan for almost everything. However, much like Robert Burns's poem "Of Mice and Men" states: "the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley". Meaning no matter how much we try planning our lives, things will often go astray. Everett also shares the same simple elements of human nature as the common man. He feels a need for more than just possessions. He loves and is caring and loyal: at one point jumping in amongst a gathering of KKK extremists in order to rescue Tommy Johnson. He is perseverant



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