|"Why Lebowski?" submissions|
|Podcast - Episode Extras|
|Monday, 03 November 2008 11:59|
I wanted to say my peace about this "Why Lebowski?" question. There are, obviously, a great many reasons but I will try to summarize.
First off, the movie is funny. I think that's reason #1. Lebowski is uproariously, cosmically funny in a way that very few movies ever are. But the fact that you have to see the movie a few times before catching on to why it's funny makes the laughs all the more satisfying when they finally do come. With lot of comedies, the laughs are obvious right away, and you can watch and enjoy the movie once or twice and then you're done with it. The movie has nothing more to offer you. But to laugh at Lebowski involves getting to know these characters -- particularly The Dude -- and observing how they behave and how they view their world. That's much more rewarding in the long run, and it's a big part of what makes people want to watch this movie over and over. We want to hang out with these characters for another two hours and live in this world that they inhabit. In crafting TBL, the Coens have created a fully-furnished universe -- specifically a fantasy version of Los Angeles in the early 1990s -- every bit as vivid as those imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, or J.K. Rowling. To rewatch the movie is to revisit this place and catch up with the people (Walter, Brandt, Jesus, Maude, Uli, etc.) who live there. All of those fantasy authors I just mentioned created their own sort of language or terminology for their characters -- a particular way of speaking which sets their work apart -- and it's the same with Lebowski. Language is a big part of the interactive experience for the fan; notice how quoting the dialogue is a big part of Lebowski experience. Characters like the Dude and Walter have speech patterns which are easily recognizable and which fans can replicate. Imitatable speech patterns like these are often important in cult movies, from Bogart in Casablanca ("Here's lookin' at you, kid") to Cheech & Chong in Up In Smoke (where the heroes end practically every sentence with "man").
Another big factor going in the movie's favor is that its simply top-notch filmmaking on every level. The script is incredibly inventive, taking all kinds of threads both from pop culture and from real life and somehow weaving them into this unified narrative which shouldn't work but somehow does. The cast is ridiculously overqualified, and even the small bit players have great lines and great moments. The music is incredibly diverse, ranging from rock to jazz to classical and everything in between, and the songs add immensely to the film's appeal. The costumes, production design, and cinematography are all pitch perfect. Never forget: all other considerations aside, movies are primarily things to look at and listen to. Lebowski simply gives us awesome things to see and hear for two hours. What's not to like?
There's way more to say about this, but I'm ramblin' again. (See? What did I tell you about speech patterns?)
Hey Chalupa / Liz,
as others will testify, there are so many reasons why TBL holds a special
place in Achiever's hearts.
It is impossible to say it all in one email but here goes.
First off, its well written, brilliantly casted and acted, and well shot. It
has an eclectic but engaging soundtrack. Second, TBL is unusual that you
laugh to a greater extent with subsequent viewings.
This is linked to the third and almost unique quality - you get sucked in
because you enjoy it more, the more you watch it. It is not a "instant"
film. But if you have an ounce of humour or sense you will know you NEED to
see it again- even if you don't know why to begin with. Once you have seen
it for the first time you realise that the plot is at best, secondary. It is
the individual episodes that are important. Freed from the burden of
following the plot you can watch it again and begin to truly appreciate the
qualities I mentioned at the outset - the dialogue, the look and the sounds.
That is why the movie is so special.
Now, separately there is the fan-culture. That only enhances and prolongs
the movie's impact on you. For example, I recently posted a thread on the
Fest forum. It was straightforward, stating where TBL was in a list of the
top 500 films and some paintings created around the film. Within ten posts a
discussion had logically started on that thread about The Dude as a
Jesus/Messiah figure. Now where else would that happen and still make total
And that's not even the half of it!
Keep on Achievin'
The Irish Monk
Some fans submitted their thoughts on the Lebowski Fest forums.