n Akroterion - 'You can't improve upon the classics, man' : classical allusions in Tim Blake Nelson's film (2009)

Volume 58, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0303-1896
  • E-ISSN: 2079-2883
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In Tim Blake Nelson's film (2009), Bill Kincaid (Edward Norton), a successful professor of Classics at Brown University is lured back to his native Oklahoma when he receives word that his identical twin brother Brady (also Edward Norton) has been murdered. Although he has deliberately distanced himself from his 'eccentric' family for over a decade, Bill dutifully flies home, only to find his 'dead' twin very much alive and planning to use Bill as his alibi for a murder he and his sidekick Bolger (Tim Blake Nelson) intend to commit. While Bill has been diligently crafting his academic career, Brady has instead channelled his genius into growing marijuana hydroponically - part of the reason for the film's title. Brady is in a double bind, having borrowed a substantial sum of money from a Tulsa drug-lord called Pug Rothbaum (Richard Dreyfuss), and being at the same time under considerable pressure to quit the drug business, as his girlfriend is pregnant. This article explores the numerous allusions to ancient Greek and Latin literature, philosophy and culture that the film's director Tim Blake Nelson, who himself majored in Classics at Brown, has confessed to putting into almost every scene. A major focus of this 'tonally varied' film is its exploration of the interface between the two main forms of drama derived from Ancient Greece - tragedy and comedy.

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