The Big Lebowski (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 1998)

“New shit has come to light…” And the Coen brothers’ cult strike, which has inspired “Lebowski studies,” a religion (“Dudeism”), and “Lebowski Days” all over the country (aw, man, I just missed New York’s!), has made it to Blu-ray, following a half-dozen editions on DVD and dead-as-Donny HD DVD. Does it tie together the movie?

The Story: “Way out west there was this fella… fella I wanna tell ya about. Fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. Mr. Lebowski, he called himself ‘The Dude.’ Now, ‘Dude’–that’s a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Dude that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. And a lot about where he lived, likewise. But then again, maybe that’s why I found the place so darned interestin’. They call Los Angeles the ‘City Of Angels.’ I didn’t find it to be that, exactly. But I’ll allow there are some nice folks there. ‘Course I can’t say I’ve seen London, and I ain’t never been to France. And I ain’t never seen no queen in her damned undies, so the feller says. But I’ll tell you what–after seeing Los Angeles, and this here story I’m about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin’ every bit as stupefyin’ as you’d see in any of them other places. And in English, too. So I can die with a smile on my face, without feelin’ like the good Lord gypped me. Now this here story I’m about to unfold took place back in the early ’90s– just about the time of our conflict with Sad’m and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there’s a man…I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles. And even if he’s a lazy man–and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin’ for laziest worldwide. But sometimes there’s a man, sometimes, there’s a man. Aw. I lost my train of thought here. But…aw, hell. I’ve done introduced him enough.”–The Stranger (Sam Elliott)

Audio/Video: Carpet pissers on various online forums are saying that this new Blu is no different from that dead HD DVD that was circulating around these parts–that there is a literal connection between the two–with the addition of digital noise reduction, edge enhancement, and all that other shit that can really ruin a dude’s day. Be that as it may, and I concede that it may be, I can tell you that it still has the edge over my 10th anniversary DVD, and my wife came into the room she remarked, “This looks like 3D!” (All those swirl-colored bowling balls coming at her, I guess.) But, story of a Dude’s life, more could have been done, and a fresh encode used. On the other hand the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack rolls, even on shabbos, too.

Special Features: The Blu Lebowski packs pretty much every supplement ever created for a past edition onto a BD-50, and–rare for the format–adds a few more. Besides making-ofs with the cast and filmmakers and featurettes on the film’s dream sequences and cultists we get a few exclusive items in U-Control mode, which as usual I found cumbersome to use. No one wants to be fumbling around in the dark with a remote trying to negotiate factoids about the production, score, and slang, and while I wouldn’t mark it zero it’s not my thing, man.

More user-friendly is the handsome Digibook packaging, which wraps a 28-page volume around the disc. Contents include some of Jeff Bridges’ on-set photos and an interview with the actual Dude who inspired the movie, Jeff Dowd. “It’s clearly a Raymond Chandler-type film noir pumped up with Nitrous Oxide, acid, you know, your drug of choice, turned into a comedy,” he remarks. Who can argue with that?

Bottom Line: “The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.”–The Stranger.

(Dudes, the Dude has a new album. The Dude sings!)

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About the Author

Bob Cashill

An Editorial Board Member of Cineaste magazine, Bob is also a member of the Drama Desk theatrical critics society in New York. See what he's watching on Letterboxd and read more from him at New York Theater News.

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