A big anniversary, twenty five years of The Big Lebowski

17 April 2023

The Big Lebowski, movie poster

It’s not being remade, but it is being re-released. Whether you’re ready or not. The Big Lebowski, trailer, the slapstick comedy crime caper by American filmmaking auteurs, Joel and Ethan Coen, is having a special theatrical re-run in some parts of the world this week. The move marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s release in March 1998.

For those who (somehow) missed it earlier, The Big Lebowski follows a couple of chaotic days in the life of easy-going stoner Jeff “the dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges).

Debt collectors arrive at his house demanding payment of a loan. They quickly realise they’re at the wrong Jeff Lebowski’s place, and leave. But not before damaging some of the dude’s belongings. Upset, the dude tracks down the other Jeff Lebowski, being the “big” Lebowski (David Huddleston), the debt collectors’ actual target, and demands compensation.

When the big Lebowski refuses, the dude steals a rug from his house. Soon after, the big Lebowski receives a ransom note from someone claiming to have kidnapped his wife. He asks the dude to help him find her. Walter (John Goodman), a friend of the dude, who thinks the kidnapping is a sham, hatches a plan for them to keep the ransom money the big Lebowski gave the dude.

Needless to say, the idea turns out to be terrible. Soon rival gangs, the big Lebowski, and the police, are after the dude, his friends, and the million dollar ransom money.

The Coen Brothers said the idea for The Big Lebowski came partly from the work of American-British author Raymond Chandler. The character of the dude, meanwhile, was reputedly inspired by Jeff Dowd, an American film producer, and political activist. While the film did not fare all that well on release — it garnered mixed reviews, and had a relatively modest box office take — The Big Lebowski gained a cult following in later years.

While fans in America will have the chance to see screenings on Sunday 16 April, and Thursday 20 April 2023, in selected cinemas in the United States, Australian fans will need to be a little more patient. And they may have to be prepared to travel. So far, the only upcoming cinema screening I can find of The Big Lebowski in Australia, is at the Wallis Piccadilly, in the South Australian capital, Adelaide, on Friday 28 July 2023.


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