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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? dazzles despite sparse extras; a must-see, rich in humor and heritage.

    O Brother, Where Art Thou? Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' on Blu-ray impresses, with Roger Deakins' supervision enhancing its dustbowl aesthetic through advanced digital restoration for superior image quality, capturing its intended old-postcard look with desaturated colors, detailed scenes, and striking presentation.

  • Audio
  • The DTS lossless tracks enrich O Brother, Where Art Thou? with clear, immersive sound, emphasizing the acclaimed soundtrack's musicality and natural environment, while maintaining clear dialogue despite thick accents.

  • Extra
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? Blu-ray features include a making-of, storyboard comparisons, music video, and trailers, but lacks the cinematography featurette from the DVD.

  • Movie
  • 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' humorously blends 1930s folklore, clever allusions, and Coen brothers' wit in a mythic quest for treasure and self-discovery, enchanting with its rich whimsy and inventive narrative.

    Video: 75

    The Blu-Ray presentation of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" showcases a meticulously crafted 1080p/VC-1 video encode that brings Roger Deakins' cinematic vision to life with unprecedented clarity and detail. Known for being the first American film entirely finished using a digital intermediate, this release benefits vastly from advances in digital technology since its original production. As Roger Deakins himself supervised a newer transfer, we're treated to an image that, to his eye, surpasses the original release. The resulting video quality is stunning, with a gorgeously detailed image that boasts excellent black levels and precise contrast. Despite occasional softness—a deliberate choice to match the film's stylized aesthetic—fine details in clothing and facial textures remain exceptionally clear.

    The Blu-Ray's color grading plays a significant role in its visual storytelling, employing a palette that intentionally eschews saturation for a more desaturated look, save for strategic uses of vibrant colors like the yellow-orange of flames or the red of the KKK Grand Wizard's uniform. This choice enhances the film's dustbowl-era setting and old-postcard aesthetic without compromising the detail and depth of the image. Primary colors are skewed away from accuracy to fit the stylized narrative, yet skin tones remain natural and fitting for the Southern backdrop of the story. The careful balance of shadows and lights contributes to an image of great clarity and a cinematic quality that is both consistent and visually delightful.

    Critics of the Blu-Ray's color adjustments, compared to previous DVD releases or theater memories, overlook the significant technological advancements at play here. Digital tools have evolved since the film's original release, allowing for a transfer that is not only more faithful to Deakins' vision but also superior in capturing the nuanced details of the film's unique aesthetic. From the rich, inky blacks to the warm amber tones that define its visual style, this Blu-Ray edition offers viewers an unparalleled opportunity to experience "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" with the highest level of video quality and artistic integrity.

    Audio: 75

    The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is a tour de force in audio presentation, ensuring both the critically acclaimed soundtrack and the movie's dialogue are delivered with exceptional clarity and richness. Celebrated for its award-winning, multi-million selling soundtrack, this high-resolution audio track does not disappoint, presenting songs like "A Man of Constant Sorrow" with an unparalleled musicality and presence that surpasses previous formats. The soundtrack's success is matched by articulate sound design, balancing realism with a subtle but immersive use of the surround soundstage. This is not about overpowering the audience but about drawing them into the Coens' meticulously crafted auditory world, where even the overdone Mississippi accents are rendered clear and precise, contributing to the film's distinctive atmosphere.

    The audio mix excels in creating a natural and realistic environment, avoiding any temptation to showcase unnecessary aural flair. Instead, it focuses on delivering a rich and spacious soundfield, where atmospheric sounds and discrete background activities enhance the viewing experience without overwhelming it. The design ensures that music and essential sound effects, like the echoes of Baby Face Nelson's gunfire, seamlessly integrate into scenes, adding depth without detracting from the dialogue or narrative flow. The dynamic range is particularly noteworthy for its detailed handling of both high and low frequencies, offering a warm and engaging audio experience that complements the film's visual aesthetic perfectly.

    Moreover, the balance across the soundstage is impeccable, with movement between speakers handled deftly to create an expansive auditory image. Such precision facilitates an environment where every environmental nuance is palpable, from the lightest footsteps to the profound bass that lends weight to action sequences. The careful mix not only pays homage to the layered soundscapes characteristic of the Coens' filmmaking but also ensures that every element, from dialogue to the subtlest sound effect, contributes to a richly immersive experience. This DTS-HD Master Audio track sets a high bar for audio presentation, making "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" a joyous auditory journey for aficionados and newcomers alike.

    Extra: 42

    The extra features on the Blu-ray edition of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" cater largely to those with a keen interest in the filmmaking process behind this unique Coen brothers' classic. The included "Making of O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is insightful yet notably brief, featuring interviews with key figures such as Joel and Ethan Coen, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and various cast members, providing a glimpse into the production but leaving audiences craving more. The "Storyboard to Scene Comparisons" for The Flood and The Klan scenes offer a fascinating look at pre-visualization techniques, although they might have benefited from more in-depth commentary. The "Music Video" for "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" serves as a delightful reminisce for fans of the film's soundtrack but lacks original content beyond scenes from the film. Notably absent from this release is the "Painting with Pixels" featurette on the film’s cinematography, which would have added significant value. Nevertheless, these extras, while somewhat scant, still present a valuable peek behind the curtain of a film celebrated for its distinctive aesthetic and sound.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • The Making of O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Features interviews with Joel and Ethan Coen, Roger Deakins, and principal cast members.
    • Storyboard to Scene Comparisons: Offers a comparison between storyboards and final film sequences for The Flood and The Klan.
    • Music Video: I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow: Composed of film scenes set to the signature song.
    • Theatrical Trailer: Provides an original glimpse into the movie’s promotional efforts.
    • Additional Trailers: Includes trailers for Real Steel and ABC TV on video, accessible at startup.

    Movie: 75

    O Brother, Where Art Thou?," presented in Blu-ray format, underscores the Coen brothers' penchant for weaving intricate narratives rich in cultural references and allusions, this time taking us through the Depression-era South with an audacious mix of history, folklore, and music. It stands as a testament to Joel and Ethan Coen's narrative dexterity, merging the mythic journey of Homer’s Odyssey with distinctly American motifs drawn from various literary and historical sources. The film cleverly plants its roots in the tradition of cinematic homage, notably drawing a parallel with Preston Sturges's "Sullivan's Travels," from which it borrows its title, subtly folding in layers of meta-commentary on the nature of storytelling and the blurring lines between myth and reality.

    George Clooney’s portrayal of Ulysses Everett McGill brings a riveting charm and wit to the film, embodying a modern-day Odysseus navigating the trials and tribulations of the American South with his two dimwitted companions, Delmar O'Donnell and Pete Hogwallop. Their quest, ostensibly for buried treasure, evolves into a rich tapestry of encounters with a fascinating array of characters—from malevolent lawmen to seductive Sirens—each weaving into the broader narrative of pursuit, redemption, and survival. This journey is punctuated with comedic brilliance and musical interludes that capture the essence of the era, further enriching the film’s textural depth.

    The Blu-ray presentation elevates this cinematic experience with exceptional visual clarity, highlighting Roger Deakins’ cinematography that paints each scene with a nostalgic hue, transporting viewers to a mythic version of the 1930s South steeped in folklore and whimsy. Coupled with a soundtrack that perfectly encapsulates the musical heritage of the period, this release underscores the Coens’ mastery in creating worlds that are as immersive as they are enchanting. Through its blend of humor, history, and heart, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" remains a unique fixture in the Coens’ oeuvre, a film that delights in its own convoluted simplicity and invites viewers to revel in the joyous absurdity of its tale.

    Total: 70

    The Blu-ray release of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" excels in its core offering: a crisp, immersive viewing experience that beautifully captures the film's unique 1930s Depression-era setting and eccentric characters. The Coen brothers’ adaptation, loosely inspired by Homer's The Odyssey and imbued with a sprinkle of Preston Sturges's 'Sullivan’s Travels,' stands out not just for its storytelling but for its aesthetic achievements as well. The visual and auditory presentation on this disc is of exceptional quality, ensuring that the fantastical journey through the deep south is as vivid and engaging as possible. The inclusion of a diverse and eclectic music collection further enhances the experience, drawing viewers into the world the Coens have recreated with meticulous care.

    However, while the film itself has been given due reverence in its Blu-ray incarnation, the package is noticeably scant on supplementary materials. This is a significant oversight considering the rich thematic layers and historical contexts ripe for exploration. Fans of the Coen brothers and cinephiles alike may find themselves yearning for more behind-the-scenes insights, commentary, or documentaries that could have provided deeper understanding and appreciation of the film's craftsmanship and storytelling nuances. The absence of meaningful extras is a missed opportunity to enrich the overall package and connect more intimately with its audience.

    In conclusion, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" on Blu-ray is a compelling acquisition for those who value high-quality film presentation. It’s a testament to the Coen brothers’ distinct style and the film’s cultural impact, offering an outstanding audio-visual experience. However, the lack of substantial bonus content leaves a gap that might have otherwise elevated this release from merely excellent to exceptional. Despite this shortfall, the Blu-ray is highly recommended for fans and newcomers alike, serving as a vibrant showcase of one of the Coens' most beloved films.