O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Synopsis: Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) is having difficulty adjusting to his hard-labor sentence in Mississippi. He scams his way off the chain gang with simple Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and maladjusted Pete (John Turturro), then the trio sets out to pursue freedom and the promise of a fortune in buried treasure. With nothing to lose and still in shackles, their hasty run takes them on an incredible journey of awesome experiences and colorful characters.
Production: Buena Vista
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 35 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
107 min


In black, we hear a chain-gang chant, many voices together,

spaced around the unison strike of picks against rock. A

title burns in:

O muse!

Sing in me, and through me tell the story

Of that man skilled in all the ways of contending...

A wanderer, harried for years on end...

On the sound of an impact we cut to:


splitting a rock.

As the chant continues, wider angles show the chain-gang at

work. They are black men in bleached and faded stripes,

chained together, working under a brutal midday sun.

It is flat delta countryside; the straight-ruled road

stretches to infinity. Mounted guards with shotguns lazily

patrol the line.

The chain-gang chant is regular and, it seems, timeless.

We slowly fade out, returning to


The last of the voices fades.

After a long beat we hear the guitar introduction to Harry

McClintock's 'The Big Rock Candy Mountain.'


A road cuts across the middle background. Noonday sun beats


We hear the distant picks and shovels of men at work and

see, rising above ground level, the occasional upraised pick

and spade heaving dirt. Men are digging a ditch alongside

the road.

After a long beat, three men pop up in the wheat field in

the middle foreground. They wear faded stripes and grey duck-

billed caps. They scurry abreast toward the camera, throwing

an occasional glance back at the ditch-diggers. A clanking

sound accompanies their run. Oddly, the wheat between them

sweeps down as they run. After a brief sprint they drop back

down into the wheat.

In the background a man enters frame left, strolling along

the road, wearing a khaki uniform and sunglasses, a shotgun

resting against one shoulder. He glances idly down into the

ditch and strolls on out of frame right.

The three men rise back up from the wheat and, clanking,

resume their sprint.


They are topped by three cap bills, and peer out from behind

a blind of greenery. We hear distant whistling.

The men are looking at a weathered barn. A young boy,

whistling, is heading down the road that leads away from the

barn, jiggling the traces of the old plough horse that leads

him. He turns a corner and is gone.


The three clanking men (we can now see their leg irons) are

awkwardly chasing a chicken around the yard. The squawking

yardbird doesn't need to move much to elude the three bunched



It curves in a gentle S into the background. It is sun-

dappled, pretty.

We hear clanking footsteps approaching at a trot.

The three men enter in the foreground and trot on down the

lane. The leftmost has a flapping chicken tucked under one



The three men sit in a side-by-side arc around a dying fire,

one of them contentedly picking his teeth with a small chicken

bone, another wiping grease off his chin with a sleeve, the

third idly poking at the fire with a spit.

Each of them, still bound by chains, clinks as he moves.

One of them abruptly c*cks his head, listening.

The others notice his attitude and also freeze, listening.

We hear the distant baying of hounds.


From high on a ridge we see the three chained men running

toward us.

In addition to their clanks we hear a distant chugging sound.


Laterally with the clanking, running feet.

The chugging sound is very loud.


Next to a freight train. A boxcar door is open.


The lead convict hooks an elbow in and starts hauling himself

up, his two clanking friends keeping pace outside.

Six hobos sit in the boxcar, lounging against sacks of

O'Daniel's Flour. They impassively watch the convict clamber

in as his two confederates run to keep up.

Rate this script:(4.50 / 6 votes)

Coen brothers

Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen, collectively referred to as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers. more…

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Submitted by acronimous on May 01, 2016

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