As Netflix is continuously piling its figurative shelves with reams of original projects, it’s worth reminding ourselves that they started out by sharing some of the greatest Hollywood titles ever made. So, with Netflix Flashback, we’re looking back at some of the platform’s classic films and reminding ourselves just how great they are. Next up, is the wonderfully irreverent brilliance of Coen brothers‘ masterpiece, The Big Lebowski.
The 1990s were a very volatile period in international cinema. In America, new films protested against the mediocre filmmaking of the previous decade and pushed the boundaries of what avant-garde really meant. Independent films became more commercially viable and seamlessly entered the mainstream consciousness. New directors, like Quentin Tarantino, were given a platform to showcase their exciting and fresh voices and they ended up changing Hollywood’s ethos for the better.
The decade was primarily marked by the emergence of a new generation of auteurs who reinvented the methods of storytelling in cinema and brought their remarkable visions to a wider audience. The ‘90s will always be remembered fondly for the vast output of brilliant films and the establishment of new cinematic norms. It was a decade in which Coen brothers would make their presence solely felt.
Arguably the best film that the Coen brothers ever produced, this 1998 masterpiece presents a comedic revision of the stereotype of the detective noir genre through the character of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges). The philosophy it preaches is a doctrine of laziness. As cases keep piling up, the urgency of detective stories is beautifully challenged by a detective who does not want to get up from his couch.
The Big Lebowski is a smooth journey through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles full of experimental artists, cult members, and bowling-league superstars. As Los Angeles pans into view during the opening sequence of The Big Lebowski we hear the soaring ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’, a musical lament of acquiescing to the equanimity of aimlessness in the meandering dream of the Old West and cut above this is a conversational ode of sorts to ‘The Dude’. Within that opening stanza Sam Elliot drawls out the following – “Sometimes there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place, he fits right in there.” Here, is the beauty of the film.
Jeff Bridges as the iconic “Dude” is purely wonderful, an enigmatic slacker who is propelled forward by life’s absurdities on increasingly bizarre misadventures. Inspired by the work of Raymond Chandler, The Big Lebowski was relatively less successful at the time of its release when compared to other productions by the filmmaking duo. However, it has grown into a cult classic with an actual cult to boast of!
Watch The Big Lebowski on Netflix as soon as you can.