There are traces of every Coen Brother’s film leading up to Fargo, in there 1998 offering of The Big Lebowski. Not only is the story as farfetched and goofy as Fargo, but the eccentricity of the characters reflect on those of Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, but who stands out the most here is The Dude!
Before we start drooling over how funny a character The Dude is, and how awesome Jeff Bridges’ performance is, there are numerous elements of the film that make it iconic. Firstly, the script, penned by the Coen Brothers themselves, is comedy at it’s best. Not all will find this comedy, humorous, since there is a sinister pessimism to it, but those that have come to know what to expect from the brothers in question, it sure is a treat.
Not only is the writing impeccable, with most of the “F” words included in the script, the directing and editing makes this comedy easy to watch, so easy that you do feel as if you are hanging out with The Dude. The camera deliberately moves slowly across the image, and the cuts are longer than normal, no doubt relaxing the viewer into an almost zen-like state, only until the next curse word! There is a great visual goof of a rolling bowling ball, that puts you at the point of view of the ball itself, nothing short of genius, how did they do that, by the way? Anyone know?
So then there are all the great supporting performances to The Dude, John Goodman, stealing the show, right next to Jeff Bridges here. Not only is it John Goodman’s favourite role of his own, but I am sure there are numerous of us, who also elevate his performances to a favourite status. Julianne Moore is also great, and provides some great laughs, especially as she flexes her pelvis to enhance her odds of procreation! Steve Buscemi gets a more ‘silent’ role, compared to Fargo here, regardless his acting is subtle, and never dispensable. I’d totally forgotten that the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in this film, but whenever he is present, his overly polite manner is contagious, and you’ll find yourself grinning along.
The Dude is the innocent victim of this film, it is his story that we centre on, but at the same time it feels as if this film has no beginning, and no ending, The Dude is a tumbleweed, and we just happen to be spectators as the wind of life carries him off. The main purpose of this film is to entertain and to make us laugh, and it succeeds, with The Dude and his pacifist outlook in life providing the majority of the comedy. The biggest question is, how can you be more like The Dude, without all the illegal stuff, and without all the cursing? Does anyone here aspire to be more like The Dude?
The Dude’s outlook in life is that of peace and arguably respect. He hangs out with his friends, and he is honest with them, but also considerate. He also asks that those around him, respect him, as a person, as a fellow human, I think that is fair. A great example of how great a guy, The Dude is, is when he goes to his landlord’s theatre performance. We do not know what his intentions are, but they seem legit and wholesome. What time do we make for friends and acquaintances? The Dude is The Great Dude, who’s with me!?
TRIVIA COOKIE: This film has established a considerable cult following. In the US of A there is a festival called Lebowski Fest, and it’s counterpart in the UK is called The Dude Abides.