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Sirens, synonymous with their seductive and tempting voices in Greek mythology, which bewitch men causing their deaths, is one archetype intertextually present in both O Brother Where Art Thou and Homer’s Odyssey which the film is loosely based on. Through strategic employment of diegetic sound, the careful and thought-provoking composition of the mise-e-scene, and numerous camera shots, the archetype is introduced, with the scene being a direct allusion to an important plot twist in Homer’s Odyssey. Apart from the brilliant use of diegetic sound with the siren’s call being a lullaby, the directors successfully place the sirens in situ as sirens and mermaids are traditionally displayed on rocks. This creates a carefully constructed mise-e-scene to support the powerful diegetic lullaby. This scene is preceded by a medium shot of the protagonists driving a stolen vehicle with all three characters’ upper bodies visible.

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The medium shot is the commencement of the scene capturing Everett, Delmar, and Pete in the car. The directors subtly hint at the apparent leadership that Everett has, which parallels the influence that Odyssey had on his crew. The theme of the journey, which this scene evokes is connected intertextually with the theme of the journey in Homer’s Odyssey, which is interrupted by the intrusion of the diegetic sound. With this transition, the diegetic sound of feminine voices from the riverbank is effective in foreshadowing the intertextual reference of Sirens. Pete immediately and individually affected by hearing the sirens is overcome with lust and gasps for breath at the sensuous sound of the siren’s voices. He gestures for Everett to stop. An establishing shot of the river, the mise-e-scene described above and in sepia tones reminisces mythological authenticity as the viewer establishes the connection between our sirens and the archetype of the siren embedded in cultures across the world in one form or another. Knowing this, intentionally foreshadows what is to come.

The three men walk to the edge of the river and behold the beautifully staged mise e scene where they sit perched atop rounded boulders within a flowing stream. The sirens sing in unison a lullaby with supernatural effects, intensified by the directors, which capture the minds of the trio. The sirens sing ‘Go to sleep baby’ whilst authoritatively giving them alcohol, symbolizing the risk accompanying temptation apparent also in the Odyssey. The purposeful utilization of a close-up shot emphasizes Delmar and Pete’s emotional state as they are rendered speechless; however, Everett filled with hubris, attempts to implement his eloquent gift of speech however his siren exerts full control over him. This characteristic of Ulysses is like that of Odysseus, where he orders his crew to bind him to the mast, despite the temptation they are exposed to. His pride desires him to be the first mortal to survive the siren encounter, living to tell the story. The ritualist anointing of the protagonists is an allusion to the anointing of the sacrificed.

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Essay on Archetypes in ‘The Odyssey’.
(2024, February 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 7, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-archetypes-in-the-odyssey/

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Essay on Archetypes in ‘The Odyssey’ [Internet]. Edubirdie.
2024 Feb 23 [cited 2024 Mar 7].
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