Right in Hollywood Video it was clear that “The Big Lebowski” must have some special message for me. I’d gone in looking for the movie yesterday, having heard that it was a cult favorite. Filled with profound meaning of some sort.
I headed for the Drama area. Found the “Bs.” Saw a Big this and a Big that. But there was an empty spot on the shelf where a Big Lebowski would fit alphabetically. I stared at the void for a few seconds.
Then heard an employee say, “Can I help you find something?” “Yeah,” I said. “I don’t know if I’m in the right section, but I’m looking for The Big Lebowski.”
“Here you are.” He, I swear to God, was holding the DVD in his right hand. “I was just about to put it back. Somehow it got in the wrong place.”
Far out. Now I was convinced that this movie had something deep to say to me. Obviously we were meant for each other. A feeling confirmed when the hip young guy at the checkout counter approved of my selection: “Great flick. Good choice.”
Well, Laurel and I watched it last night. I’m still waiting for The Big Lebowski hit of enlightenment to strike. Maybe it will be a delayed reaction. Or I need to see it twice to grok a deeper meaning, like Todd Alcott did.
The first time I saw this movie, I didn't like it much. For a comedy it wasn't funny enough, for a mystery it wasn't satisfying. There was too much weirdness, not enough punch, couldn't figure out what any of it meant. The cowboy, the dream sequences, the dotty peripheral characters, it just didn't gel for me.
Nor for me. But one of those who commented on Alcott’s thoughtful review said that he’d seen it twice in theatres and six times on video. The third time through he realized what is going on.
Myself, I’m not sure what that is. However, I’m not about to disagree with Alcott’s final words (especially since he’s got an extra viewing on me).
This movie, for me, went from being pale and unpersuasive to standing as the Coen's densest, most intricate, most interesting and, in a way, most profound movie.
Okay. Could be. It’s definitely the most profound movie ever made about a dude named “Dude.” Over on YouTube you can watch The Dude’s Version of The Big Lebowski. In 2:12 it’s possible to absorb the dudeosity of this 90 minute movie. The strange thing is, it almost makes as much sense.
If you’ve got a bit more time (two seconds) and a broadband connection, check out the “Fuck” Edit of The Big Lewbowskie (sic). For 2:14 you will bathe in the aural warmth of the movie’s other favorite word.
I can already tell that this is a flick that grows on you. I didn’t find it all that enjoyable to watch, yet more scenes have stuck in my mind than is the case with most movies I see. For some reason I still hear Walter (John Goodman) telling his buddy Donny (Steve Buscemi), “Shut the fuck up, Donny.”
Probably because Walter said that a lot. Like he harkened back to his Vietnam days a lot. Walter lives a lot in the past. That helps explain why, no matter what he tries to do, he screws it up. Appealingly.
The “hero” (extremely loosely put) of the movie is The Dude, Jeff Bridges. Stoned, slackerly dressed, dark glassed, he lives in the moment. The Dude is more in touch with what’s going on than Walter, but that doesn’t help him cope with a parade of lower-case dudes who aim to bust up his apartment (and him).
I was rooting for the Nihilists to have better lines. But judging from this compilation of The Big Lebowski quotes, their command of the English language was pretty basic (of course, they had German accents). Sample:
I fucks you in the ass, I fucks you in the ass, I fucks you, I fucks you, I fucks you, I fucks...
This Nihilism had more content, though.
We believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson.
My take on the meaning of the movie is just that: nothing. Nothing really matters, so nothing really can go wrong. My interpretation is along the lines of how a Spirituality & Practice review summed up The Dude’s outlook on life.
Once the Dude gets involved in a kidnapping case, his life swirls in chaos. But he is unperturbed by it all. Like a good Taoist, the Dude realizes that freedom is understanding we are not in control and never will be. By taking it easy, the Dude abides and becomes a spiritual teacher of crazy wisdom.As Walter said, after Donny asked “Are these the Nazis, Walter?”
No, Donny, these men are nihilists. There's nothing to be afraid of.