By Victoria Priest April 25, 2022 (c) [small changes made on April 29, 2022]
The year is 1998. The Big Lebowski hits theaters, but, I miss it. My son, an infant that I was busy taking care of at the time, in recent times told me I needed to see it as it’s one of his favorite movies. So watching it, I was half-way enjoying it and not knowing what to think of it, really, until the very end when I literally reacted with: “. . . what?!” Why, you ask? Because the movie isn’t just a comedy, but some kind of philosophical religious commentary. I immediately realized that watching the movie once, especially without subtitles on, was only the beginning of the Lebowski experience. I didn’t watch it again right away, but ordered the screenplay and read that. What follows are my own observations and commentary after doing some (but not too much) research and giving it some thought. And I shouldn’t have to say this, but there are spoilers ahead.
A note on a result of waiting so long to comment on an older popular movie: I’m quite aware that the movie has been studied a lot, commented on a lot, and that those studies and commentaries often relate to the background of the Coen Brothers, who wrote and directed the movie. By their name you can guess they’re Jewish, and they are—Coen is Hebrew for priest. They were raised Jewish in America. They have made a number of movies that deal with religion is some way or another, with one in particular—A Serious Man (2016)—being very critical of modern Jewish faith (from what I’ve read). While I have read some reviews and analyses of The Big Lebowski, I’m presenting my own take on the movie here. I plan on delving into the Coen Brothers more and their “religious” films, and will hopefully write the results of that here at a later time.
The story starts out by confusing us about when exactly it takes place, in 1990 or 1991? And this seems to be important since the narrator tells us it is: the main character, the Dude, is a man for his time and place, the narrator tells us. In a grocery store, George H. W. Bush is on the news concerning the Gulf War, and the broadcast is from 1990. But the Dude’s check he writes for buying milk is dated September 11, 1991. Eerie, isn’t it? Gulf War and an arguably later effect, the 9/11 attack of 2001, coincidentally predicted in a movie from 1998.i Despite the movie starting out this way, it doesn’t seem to follow through. There are tiny glimpses relating to The Gulf conflict, but that’s it, with nothing tying it to the end. Interesting, but let’s move on. Continue reading Another Commentary on The Big Lebowski