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(aka "To the White Sea" )

 

directed by Joel Coen
UK/France/USA 2000

 

In Joel and Ethan Coen's joyous musical comedy O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the endless parlor game of "Name That Allusion" starts with the title, a reference to Preston Sturges' 1942 classic Sullivan's Travels. In that film, a popular director of escapist Hollywood fare announces his plans to make an earnest American epic, "a true canvas of the suffering of humanity." To research the project, he dresses up like a hobo and tries to blend in with the great unwashed, finding about as much success as yuppie Albert Brooks does "touching Indians" in Lost In America. Sturges' potent satire mocks the folly of artists who pretend to understand how the other half lives but can't truly know their experience, a lesson the Coens have clearly taken to heart. Had the Coens attempted any kind of verisimilitude in their depiction of the Depression-era South, O Brother would have been as authentic and meaningful as Barton Fink's crying fishmongers. Instead, they've crafted something far richer and more entertaining: a loving homage to '30s Americana assembled from popular icons and artifacts, and told with the intoxicating energy of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Swimming with references to literature, movies, and especially the evocative bluegrass and country music of the period—superbly arranged by T-Bone Burnett—the film cross-pollinates Clark Gable, Robert Johnson, Busby Berkeley, The Wizard Of Oz, and the KKK. And that's just in one bravura sequence. To add another layer to the mix, the story is based in part on Homer's The Odyssey, casting George Clooney as an escaped Mississippi convict whose long journey home to his wife (Holly Hunter) includes run-ins with a blind soothsayer, a trio of sirens, and a Cyclops (John Goodman).

 

Excerpt from  Scott Tobias' review at The Onion A.V. Club located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 13th May 2000 (Cannes)

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Comparison:

Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Momentum (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow and Will Kelly for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Touchstone

Region 1 - NTSC

Momentum
Region 2 - PAL

Touchstone

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:47:05 1:42:45 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:09.256
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.88 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.32 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 27,704,641,361 bytes

Feature: 23,474,442,240 bytes

Codec: VC-1 Video

Total Video Bitrate: 22.51 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Touchstone

 

Bitrate:

 

Momentum (Special Edition)

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English, DTS English

5.1 Dolby Digital English, 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital English

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4710 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4710 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English HoH, none English (SDH), French, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Touchstone

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Storyboard to scene comparison: The Flood (6:54)
• Storyboard to scene comparison: The Klan (6:19)
• Production featurette (8:39)
• Painting with pixels (9:01)
• 'I am a man of constant sorry' music video (3:28)
• Trailer (2:32)

DVD Release Date: September 2nd, 2003
Amaray

Chapters 25
 

Release Information:
Studio: Momentum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Cast And Crew Interviews:
• - George Clooney (3:12)
- John Turturro (4:19)
- Tim Blake Nelson (3:58)
• - Holly Hunter (2:16)
- Michael Badalucco (1:27)
- Chris Thomas King (1:52)
• - Joel And Ethan Coen (3:18)
• Storyboad to scene comparison: The Flood (6:50)
• Storyboad to scene comparison: The Klan (6:15)
• Music Video - Soggy Bottom Boys -
• Theatrical Trailer (2:18)
• 4 TV Spots (1:00)

 

DVD Release Date: November 5th, 2001
2-Disc Amaray

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Touchstone
/ Disney

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 27,704,641,361 bytes

Feature: 23,474,442,240 bytes

Codec: VC-1 Video

Total Video Bitrate: 22.51 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• The Making of O Brother Where Art Thou (8:39)

• Storyboard to scene comparison: The Flood (6:54)
• Storyboard to scene comparison: The Klan (6:19)
• Music Video 'I Am a Man of Constant Sorry' - Soggy Bottom Boys (3:28)
• Trailer (2:32)

Blu-ray Release Date: September 13th, 2011
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 24

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Touchstone / Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - September 11': Well, a lot to look at here. The earthy brown DVDs look even more brown next to the Blu-ray which have green and golden yellows more prominent. Too much? It seems that way to me - but I'm unsure what was the intent. Contrast is, predictably, more prominent and colors become richer but the swing is kinda... funky. The frame has shifted to the left a degree. Frankly, I'm not crazy about this 1080P image that looks soft and unusual at times - but I admit it has more depth. I am willing to accept that I may be way off and this is, indeed, the most authentic to theatrical look for O' Brother Where Art Thou? - I'll defer to someone more expert in the film. I can tell you one thing though - it didn't deter my appreciation one bit - this is still a brilliant Americana-folksy take on "The Odyssey". Magnificent entertainment. 

Audio comes in a delightfully powerful DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4710 kbps with the toe-tapping soundtrack including The Soggy Bottom Boys "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" and The Kossoy Sisters' "I'll Fly Away" - supporting a crisp, rich, and encompassing soundstage. It really sounds impressive. The disc is region 'A'-locked with optional subtitles.

Supplements include all from the NTSC DVD excepting the 'Painting With Pixels' featurette - that I can't seem to locate. It does have the 2 storyboards, Making of..., Music Video and trailer.

This may be my second favorite Coen film after The Big Lebowski. I was anticipating a crisper, more detailed image but am willing to concede that this may be the most accurate. I can't say with any certainty. The improved audio is a big bonus. Fans may wish to indulge solely for that. O' Brother Where Art Thou? remains a great film.

***

ON THE DVDs: We have another example of a large Hollywood production being slightly superior in the NTSC standard. Everything is just a little bit clearer in the Touchstone DVD and the audio is also superior with an added DTS track. I do notice that the Region 1 is minutely cropped on all 4 sides. I dislike the Touchstone subtitles (gawdy yellow) and the Momentum has the far better extras being a 2-disc Special Edition. I also like the Momentum menus. Strange I don't see a 2-disc SE in NTSC-ville, but perhaps it will be forthcoming. I like the Touchstone, but if I was a true-bluer I'd snag the Momentum for the extras.

Gary W. Tooze

 

 


DVD Menus

(Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

 

Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Touchstone - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Touchstone/Disney - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras:

Blu-ray

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Touchstone

Region 1 - NTSC

Momentum
Region 2 - PAL

Touchstone

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




 

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