BLOGS

The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition

by Lauren Gitlin September 11, 2008 7:22 am
The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition Anyone worth their weight in marmots knows that this year marks the ten year anniversary of the day that Joel and Ethan Coen saw fit to bestow upon us mere mortals a gift so divine, so sublime, that the world has not been the same since. I speak, of course, of The Big Lebowski, which since its inception in 1998 has enjoyed a cult following on par with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, minus the theater nerds and plus a decade's worth of free-flowing Kahlua.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Focus Features has graced us with the requisite 10th Anniversary edition, which my research tells me comes housed in a resplendent faux bowling ball, but which the press douchebags at the aforementioned studio didn't deem me worthy of receiving for my meager reviewing purposes. How very un-Dude of them.*

No matter, the pee-on 10th Anniversary edition includes two whole discs -- one of the feature, obvi, and an entire separate disc devoted exclusively to bonus features. Let's take a tour of them, shall we?

The Making of the Big Lebowski This is a sit-down with the Coen Brothers, and while fascinating to hear how the story came about, it's nothing that you don't get on other, non-deluxe versions of the DVD. Perhaps the highlight is the interview with Jeff Bridges, which was clearly conducted during the making of the film, as his hairdo resembles that of a Swiss milkmaid. It's clear that while the character the Dude is a composite sketch and is loosely based on a man the Coen brothers know, Jeff Bridges and the film version of the Dude are pretty much interchangeable. It's the kind of revelation you always hope is true with your favorite movie characters. The obvious missing piece here is an interview with the man who actually inspired the character -- much as I love listening to a couple of nerdy Jewish guys talk about how Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler have informed their work, some face time with the Real Dude would've breathed a little more life into this feature.

The Lebowski Fest -- An Achiever's Story This is simply an extended excerpt from the forthcoming documentary The Achievers, which chronicles the yearly Lebowski festivals and its quirky, obsessive attendees. Based on the voice-over, this doc is about as amateur as you can get, which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- some of the slickly produced ones have a tendency to ring false, after all -- but the filmmaker behind the camera doesn't seem to share the passion for the movie and its followers that would be required to treat the special Lebowski subculture with the adoration and humor it deserves. And really, how long can you sit through nerdy personal anecdotes about how The Big Lebowski has made an impact on someone's life? That's called every night of the week at my local bar, and this DVD doesn't come with a shot of tequila.

Flying Carpets and Bowling Balls -- The Dream Sequences of the Dude After some boring chit-chat from the Coen Brothers about how the dance number dream sequence was inspired by Busby Berkley, we get a charming anecdote from Jeff Bridges about his unfortunate decision to invite his wife and daughters to the set on the day of the dream sequence shoot because he thought it would be fun and harmless, not realizing that part of the scene required him to glide on a skateboard underneath the crotches of a number of dancing bowling pins. To lighten the mood -- or because he's a total perv, you pick -- he decided that he'd take a picture of one lucky lady's vadge for posterity. The image is shown, and it's a beaut! He then reveals that he was rather awed by the "jungle of pubic hair" that was bursting from the girls' costumes until they inform him that it was just a joke the costume department was playing on him. Merkins! Come on, this is L.A. -- he should've known better than to believe that any of the extras had gone native.

Interactive Map From the looks of it, this is a must-have for any Lebowski enthusiast planning a Dude-centric tour of Los Angeles, and it may well be the coolest feature the DVD offers -- an inside look at where key moments in the movie were shot. I say from the looks of it because in addition to not sending me the cool bowling ball version of this 10th anniversary edition, the poopfaces at Focus apparently sent me a faulty disc. I was only able to watch the portion of the map that discussed the exterior shot of the Dude's house. Also included on the map -- but unable to be enjoyed by me due to the aforementioned circumstances -- are Hollywood Stars Lanes, Sobchak Security, and Johnie's Coffeeshop, among other sites.

Jeff Bridges' Photo Book As was hinted at earlier in the bonus features -- what with the crotch photo and all -- it seems Jeff Bridges fancies himself an amateur photographer. Using some fancy-style wide-lens camera, he actually documented the making of the movie and then gave a little photo book to each member of the cast after the movie wrapped. Cute! He takes us through his photos -- and manages to squeeze in a shameless plug for his CD, available on iTunes -- from his very first meeting with the Coen brothers at the Broadway Diner in Santa Monica to a couple of precious snapshot of the man, the myth, the guy who inspired the Dude. Jeff Dowd. It's both charming and insider-y to hear him talk about each picture, -- like listening to an old war story from a favorite uncle -- except less boring.

In sum, this is a no-brainer for Lebowski lovers, if only for the packaging (which, ahem). Happy birthday, Dude!

*Turns out, the edition that's housed in a bowling ball is a Limited Edition collectors' 10th anniversary edition, not the regular old 10th anniversary edition, so I guess it's my fault for failing to specify that when asking for a review copy. Still though! Anyway, let's all take this as a lesson. Don't make the mistake I did. Buy the rad collectors item here.

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