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This Is Where O Brother, Where Art Thou? Was Filmed

More than 20 years have passed since Joel and Ethan Coen turned Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey" on its ear in the guise of their Southern-fried, Depression-era comedy "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Throughout the ensuing decades, the ramshackle musical road movie remains one of the best-loved films in the Coens' impeccable cinematic oeuvre, with fans continuing to delight in its goofball charms, sub-epic grandeur, and rollicking era-specific soundtrack. 

Set in the Deep South circa the 1930's, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" follows a trio of escaped convicts (played by George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Turturo) who "r-u-n-n o-f-f-t" from their chain gang in search of a promised treasure buried near the home of Clooney's Ulysses Everett McGill. Navigating the rugged backwoods terrain while desperately trying to remain incognito, Everett and his companions set off on a sprawling journey that finds them robbing a bank with a thrill-seeking George "Baby Face" Nelson (Michael Badalucco), getting loved-up by some velvet-voiced sirens, battling a fearsome cyclops, and even cutting a hit record. 

As prophesied in the early moments of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," however, the treasure Everett and the gang find is hardly what they were promised. But the road to get there is fit with such lavishly photographed sights that one can't help but revel in the journey. While "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" has the look and feel of a major Hollywood production, the Coens' shot most of the film as far away from studio backlots as you can get.  

The Coens favored authentic Southern vistas for O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Coens took their A-list "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" cast (also featuring Holly Hunter, John Goodman, and Stephen Root) all the way to the sweltering vistas of Mississippi (via Visit Mississippi), where the majority of the film was shot. Principal photography took place in middle of summer 1999 (via CGSociety), so it's a fair bet that much of the sweaty grit and grime George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Turturo are caked in throughout their journey isn't just the work of a talented make-up team.

As with most productions, tax credits could have potentially played a role in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" shooting in Mississippi. What feels more plausible, though, is that the Coens pushed for the production to shoot on location for the sake of authenticity. The brothers have actually become renowned in cinematic circles for their dedication to making their movies feel as real as possible. For example, they shot the 1996 film "Fargo" in North Dakota and Minnesota in the dead of winter (via The Cinemaholic), so one could easily argue that the Coens didn't want to try to replicate the dusty, Willow-tree-adorned backroads and breathtaking lakes of Mississippi for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Perhaps "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" wouldn't have worked as well as it does if it hadn't been shot almost entirely within the actual region in which its set. "Almost" is the key word there, though, as the Coens did have to cheat one tricky shot back in Hollywood. The production reportedly shot the epic finale flood on a Universal Studios' backlot (via theStudioTour.com). But given the scope and inherent danger of that particular scene, there's really no other way to have pulled it off.