Twenty years after it was released, the Big Lebowski remains a pop-culture tour de force. Abide with us as we look back at why this noir-meets-Americana flick is so special
The year was 1998. The cynicism of the banking crisis years was nowhere on the horizon and restaurants still served food on plates and not the first garden implement they could lay their hands on. In March of that year, Joel and Ethan Coen, riding high on the success of Fargo, unleashed upon the world their latest tale of eccentric folk making their way through a quintessentially American landscape.
But The Big Lebowski, a rambling, surreal noir, didn’t quite set the box office on fire. The meandering plot was panned, some said the characters were unrealistic, and many thought it would disappear from memory, VCR tapes consigned to a corner of your shelf.
That was then. Things soon changed, and the Lebowski train, instead of rolling to a halt, kept gathering momentum. A few years after its initial release, it found a new lease of life, with a fan following that adopted it not just as a great movie, but something far more profound. The nihilists were wrong. We’d found something to believe in.
Since then, it’s become a staple of film nights at local cinemas, given birth to endless memes, had bars named after it, been included in the US Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, and yes, even spawned a ‘religion’. A triumph of filmmaking is what it is…
Excerpt from the June-July 2018 issue of Maxim India.