The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski Study Guide

The Big Lebowski is a stoner comedy and crime film from 1998 produced and directed by the Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan). It follows Jeffrey "the Dude" Lebowski, an unemployed bowler and general slacker as he navigates a convoluted instance of mistaken identity and eventually helps a millionaire who shares his name locate his young wife, Bunny, who has apparently been kidnapped for ransom.

In interviews about the film, Joel Coen said that they wanted to make a movie that was loosely inspired by the work of Raymond Chandler, a pulp novelist and the author of many detective novels and film noirs. The resulting film was a stoner take on the classic mystery, with the Dude and his equally clueless and clumsy compatriots wandering through a seedy corner of Los Angeles, struggling to piece together the details of a crime that seems to have no one culprit.

At the time of its release, The Big Lebowski was widely panned, but has in the years since become a beloved cult classic. Indeed, many critics have issued revised reviews of the film since they panned it, noting its significance retrospectively. In pop culture, Jeff Bridges has become almost synonymous with his character, "The Dude," and his character has spawned everything from t-shirts to a religion, founded in 2005, called "Dudeism," based on the character and integrated with a contemporary interpretation of Chinese Taoism.