13 July, 2011

The Dude abides

Scholars and The Big Lebowski

"A bowling alley. A severed toe sporting a neatly polished nail. An aging hippie and his best friend, a Vietnam War veteran with a hair-trigger temper.

If those images don’t add up to anything for you, feel free to flip the page. If they do, it means you’re familiar — perhaps intimately so — with one of the most analyzed, deconstructed and eclectically interpreted films of recent decades: The Big Lebowski.

Joel and Ethan Coen‘s subversive comedy, in which a slovenly slacker (Jeff Bridges) in modern-day L.A. gets caught up in a convoluted kidnapping case, was neither a critical nor a popular success when it was released in 1998. But it gradually became a cult classic, attracting a large, committed group of followers — including more than a few academics.

In anticipation of the 10th annual Lebowski Fest, a gathering of fans taking place July 15 and 16 in Louisville, Ky., we decided to pour ourselves a white Russian and peruse some of the scholarly papers the film has inspired. Probably by design, it’s impossible to get a firm handle on The Big Lebowski, but there’s value in tracing its disparate thematic threads and discovering the patterns they create. Think of it as research that ties the room together."
I wonder if Mark knows about this? 

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