The Coen Brother's hit movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou set eighteen American songs to a quest in Mississippi; Trelawny’s Gold sets eighteen British songs to a quest in Cornwall with young local singer-songwriters like Kate Plumtree, Louella Jade Eke and Rosie Crow as well as big-name folk-stars already recorded
Braving the swirling tide to cross the causeway to the castle on St Michael's Mount is a Trio of hapless adventurers: Jago (goferit-m'dear) Haddock is a Cornish fisherman; hot tempered know-all Reeva Brain is writing a Cornish history; and Stan (oh-shit) Spanner is the gloomy tech nerd on the team. With Cornishmen belting out their national anthem Shall Trelawny Die - here's twenty thousand Cornishmen shall know the reason why – they break into the castle and borrow Bishop Trelawny's ring to guide them to gold that he hid when he was sent to the Tower in 1688.
But the gold is guarded by 'Helmet', a fearsome Roundhead soldier with no face at all, and his vile dog Fiend who'll pursue them across Cornwall – and also across time - as the ring jerks them from one historic encounter to another.
So, no sooner do they get back to the shore from the castle than the ring, at a kiss from Reeva, brings a Mediterranean pirate ship into the bay. Its men round up locals and lead them in chains to boats. The Trio are in their modern clothes but everyone else is in the 18 th century. Heh Reeva, asks Jago, what y’reckon to this? Where be we to? This is about 1700 she expounds and those men are slavers from North Africa, from the Barbary coast. They raided Cornwall frequently. Voices on the soundtrack sing HIGH BARBAREE - Oh fare thee well my darling,my ship will put to sea when the warm winds are blowing on the High Barbaree. Locals fight the slavers but they’re overcome and chained.
Jago mutters could be my ancestors - fished here since God knows when. He wants to go to their aid. But Stan warns don’t be doolally mate, and Reeva says this is history in the making, can't change it. The slavers see them and start along the beach brandishing scimitars and chains. Jago gallantly stands between Reeva and them. Stan’s terrified. He urges her to kiss the ring and - Wham.
It’s 1805, they're press-ganged onto Nelson's ship and the song is THE VICTORY – there were 13 on the press-gang, they did my love surround. And then in 1790 they're with the Methodist preacher and smuggler John Carter the 'King of Prussia' when his beloved old boatman Tom is shot by excise men and the song is TOM BOWLING - No more he'll hear the tempest howling for Death has broached him to. In 1990 they’re hounded across rough ground by Helmet and Fiend on a hunt for the famous Beast of Bodmin Moor. And eg in 1890 they're in the china-clay pits of St Austell where everyone’s coated with white clay, and the miners hack and drill at the shining white stuff in a sort of all-white ballet while Jago woos Reeva with the Cornish love song THE WHITE ROSE. In1984 it’s golf near Padstow’s St Enodoc church with the Poet Laureate John Betjeman as be composes his golf poem and plans to be buried at the church. Then the song is THE PADSTOW FAREWELL and they must head for London.
Despite Reeva’s lecturing and temper Jago wants her. At Hampton Court she enrages Henry VIII about GREEN-SLEEVES, shoves him into a tureen of custard, and they hide in the maze. There Jago finally wins her. Afterwards he sings the first folk-song collected by Cecil Sharp: I sowed the seeds of love.
They go on up the Thames and the Tower comes into sight and, just across from it, the WWII battleship HMS Belfast now moored as a war museum. Beefeaters defending the Tower face Cornishmen with their black Cornish flag and Cornish tartan singing And when we come to London's wall, a pleasant sight to view, Come out come out you cowards you, here's men as good as you.
In a gun turret over on the Belfast Stan’s in hi-tech heaven as the gun's crew usher him onto the gunlayer's seat. In the soundtrack, the gruff old boat-builder Uffa Fox sings RULE BRITANNIA and, by the Tower, everyone hears the woomph of Belfast's guns and a big hole is blown in the wall.
On Tower Bridge the Belfast's Royal Marine band approaches leading a platoon of sailors. Stan marches proudly beside them singing along to the Navy's march - Heart of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men. They arrive by the Tower and the Cornishmen cheer and sing the chorus: We always are ready, Steady boys, steady!
Our three treasure-seekers climb through the hole in the wall into the Bloody Tower. But eeek! Helmet's suddenly right behind them in all his horror, hissing Annihilate! Annihilate! They're face-to-face - if you can be face-to-face with a man with no face at all.
But Stan tumbles a statue onto him and they get to the cell where Bishop Trelawny was held in 1688. His ring now throbs violently. It's hot gasps Reeva. The purple stone in the ring shatters and Trelawny’s secret is revealed. But does it make them rich? Or does it set up the next story in the Gold franchise?