Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watching the Big Lobowski Movie

By Charlie Reese

Big Lebowski Movie

The directing, producing and writing team of Joel and Ethan Coen are known for their very stylized films, including Fargo, Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art You?, and No Country for Old Men. In 1998, the brothers released The Big Lebowski movie to critical acclaim. The story explores the 'slacker' lifestyle, has great characters and a convoluted plot.

The star is Jeff Bridges, playing an unemployed man named Jeffrey Lebowski, who prefers to be called The Dude. The setting is Los Angeles and The Dude and his buddies spend most of their time in the bowling alleys, as bowling is their passion in life. Life gets complicated for The Dude due to mistaken identity when he is mixed up with a man with the same name who just happens to be a multimillionaire. Bridges' character is asked to deliver a ransom of $1 million, to be paid to the kidnappers of the rich man's wife. The movie, Big Lebowski explores how a man's simple life can be suddenly turned upside down. All The Dude wants to do is bowl, drink and smoke.

A narrator enigmatically known as the Stranger explains the unfolding events, voiced by Sam Elliott. John Goodman plays the Dude's best friend Walter, a volatile man obviously traumatized by his experiences in the Vietnam War. Other roles are played by Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, and John Turterro.

The Big Lebowski became something of a cult and dedicated fans learned the lines from the best scenes. The Coen's blended eccentric characters, absurd dream sequences and terrific music. The varied soundtrack includes Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Kenny Rogers, the Gipsy Kings and Henry Mancini.

Not many films have their own festival devoted to them but fans set up the annual Lebowski Festival in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002. It has since been taken up in other cities, including Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. The weekend festival's highlight is the bowling night, which includes a costume competition, and trivia quiz. There is also live music and the Louisville event includes a Garden Party with vendors, games and live bands. A British version takes place in London and is called The Dude Abides.

Various stars from the movie, Big Lebowski have appeared at the festivals, including Jeff Bridges. The festival's organizers have also written a book about the festivals titled I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, TheBig Lebowski and What Have You. There is also a documentary about the festivals called Over the Line at Lebowski Festival.

A lucrative line in merchandise is associated with The Big Lebowski movie, including a range of T-shirt depicting images and quotes from the film. DVDs come in several versions, including a Special Edition and an HD edition. There is also a VHS Collector's Edition. The film can also be found on the Coen Brothers Collection DVD, along with The Hudsucker Proxy, Barton Fink, and Blood Simple. - 16651

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