The Coen brothers are one of those polarising directing-screenwriting-producing duos that have made a name for themselves in the film industry thanks to a four decade long career. On top of penning countless films, including Steven Spielberg’s 2015 Bridge of Spies (which saw Ethan and Joel’s sixth screenwriting Academy Award nomination) the brothers are also responsible for such contemporary classics as Fargo, Burn After Reading, Inside Llewyn Davis and 2016’s Hail, Caesar!.
The Big Lebowski is a neo-noir stoner crime flick starring long time Coen brother’s collaborators Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi as well as John Goodman and Julianne Moore. The film focuses on the Dude Lebowski (Bridges), a White Russian-chugging, pot-smoking bachelor who gets mistaken for the Jeffrey, the other Lebowski (David Huddleston), a wheelchair bound billionaire whose wife, Bunny (Tara Reid), owes a couple of thugs money. The film begins when two thugs break into the Dude’s apartment and urinate on his carpet (it really brought the room together). The Dude later finds out that Bunny has been kidnapped for ransom and he is hired by the Big Lebowski to deliver the money, retrieve Bunny and try to identify the kidnappers. The Dude sets of on a high stakes adventure with his bowling buddies Donny (Buscemi) and Sobchak (Goodman). The film is a series of hilarious antics that take the trio across Los Angeles. It’s incredibly enjoyable, vastly quotable and has inspired many a meme since.
This 1998 classic is as close to a perfect example of ‘cult cinema’ as one can get. It tops countless cult film lists, has a four out of four star score from legendary film critic Roger Ebert and has even garnered an annual festival held in Kentucky known as Lebowski Fest. On top of amassing a cult following, The Big Lebowski has also inspired an entire religion known as Dudeism founded on spreading the laid back philosophy of the Dude. Fans can sign up to become members of the Church of Latter-Day Dude via Dudeism’s official website.
One of the films’ most iconic scenes (which might just strike a nerve with a Goldsmiths Fine Art student or two) is when the Dude meets Maude (Moore), Lebowski’s daughter – a feminist painter whose art has been revered for being ‘intensely vaginal.’ The scene sees Moore enter swinging stark naked from a harness and is followed by a quick exchange of sexual anatomy terms.
The Big Lebowski is a thoroughly enjoyable watch and, despite its cult status, is considered by many to be a thoroughly underrated work of the beloved Coen brothers, being one of their few films left out of the Academy Awards. The film’s use of Surrealist imagery is very refreshing for contemporary audiences and the directors’ trademark humour is evident throughout. Whether you love it or hate it, The Big Lebowski is sure to bring first time viewers a chuckle as well as finally answer the question ‘why was that guy on Halloween just wearing sunglasses, shorts and a robe as a costume?’