You may find it hard to believe, but “The Big Lebowski” premiered in theaters over 17 years ago. Where did all the time go? Well, within that timeframe, “The Big Lebowski” has gone from being viewed as an innocuous change-of-pace in the Coen Brothers’ filmography to obtaining cult status, and now, it would not seem out of place to consider it a modern-day classic.
Its reputation has grown so much over the years because of how well it lends itself to repeat viewings and critical film analysis. Case in point: Roger Ebert gave the film a 3-star rating when it came out in 1998. Twelve years later, he added the film to his “Great Movies” list. At this point, you would think not much more could be added to the conversation when it comes to this movie.
Nevertheless, CineFix has decided to throw their hat into the ring with a video analysis of their own. They pose this question: Is “The Big Lebowski” a film noir? Upon answering the question, they give a brief rundown on the history of film noir and they cite numerous examples of how ‘Lebowski’ references such classic noirs as “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Big Sleep.”
Whether it’s The Dude getting drugged or being seduced by a femme fatale, it seems clear that the film follows several different classic film noir genre conventions. CineFix also points out how it twists such conventions by making its main protagonist a stoner, and the film has a blatant disregard for allowing its plot to reach a logical, or coherent, conclusion. In the end, the answer seems to be a resounding “yes,” despite the film’s absurd humor and sardonic tone. Of course, to those who maintain that the film noir genre strictly pertains to movies made in the ‘40s and ‘50s, it’s likely that no amount of evidence could possibly make them budge.
Does the video offer any new insights or discoveries in its analysis? Not particularly, but it’s still nice to be reminded of just how cleverly constructed this film is. If nothing else, CineFix’s analysis will simply make you want to watch “The Big Lebowski” again – and that’s not a bad thing. You can check out the full video essay below.