When one typically thinks of famous movies, Hollywood typically comes to mind; after all, many great movies are filmed here, and many famous actresses call this city home. However, Mississippi has also served as a setting and filming location for several blockbuster movies. Union residents should all learn about some of these movies, and one of the most famous movies to feature Mississippi is “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Based on Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey,” this film follows the story of three escaped prisoners who journey across the Delta and North Mississippi areas, and Union residents should take inspiration from the fact that these small towns serve an important function in depicting our state in film.
In the movie, a man named Ulysses Everett McGill and his two friends escape from a prison, attempting a journey across North Mississippi in order to return to Ulysses’ home. During the course of the journey, the movie shows a semi-accurate depiction of Mississippi’s history during the 1930s. The movie shows a depiction of a traditional political race as often described in some histories from the time, a depiction of the horrific practices of the Ku Klux Klan and depictions of Mississippi towns from the era. The movie also tells the traditional Mississippi legend of Robert Johnson. After the group encounters the early blues player, he discusses how he sold his soul to the Devil to become the world’s greatest guitar player, which is an integral part of Delta and music folklore. Moreover, the movie features several locations in Mississippi—Canton, Jackson, Vicksburg, Yazoo City, Oxford, Edwards, Valley Park, Leland and D’Lo.
The movie also draws heavily on Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey.” In fact, the name Ulysses is merely the Roman form of Odysseus, and the Ulysses in the movie goes on a journey to return to his wife Penny who suffers advances from suitors. This resembles “The Odyssey” as well because in the poem, Odysseus goes on a quest to return to his wife Penelope who also suffers the advances of suitors. During his journey, Ulysses even encounters characters representing the cyclops and sirens that Odysseus encounters on his journey. This strange combination of Mississippi history, Mississippi folklore and Greek myth all combine to create a memorable movie.
Of the movies filmed in Mississippi, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” proves itself the most unique. The movie combines Mississippi with Greek myth in an odd manner that somehow makes sense and proves a timeless classic. As such, this movie provides a quality educational experience in addition to the entertainment value. One can watch the movie to laugh at the comedic moments, or one can watch the movie to learn. Either way, all Union residents should recognize the importance of our state to this great movie.