El Duderino wanders on down to Lebowski Fest

By Theresa Mallinson 17 August 2011

As “The Big Lebowski” is re-released on Blu-Ray DVD and the cast reunites to entertain fans, The Dude's religion of slackerdom shows no sign of slacking off. By THERESA MALLINSON.

“Now this story I’m about to unfold took place back in the early nineties – just about the time of our conflict with Saddam and the Iraqis. I only mention it ’cause 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…”

This is how “The Stranger”, the narrator, introduces Jeff “the Dude” Lebowski at the beginning of film. Unfortunately, 1998 clearly wasn’t the time and place for the Dude, with “The Big Lebowski” bombing at the box office. But by the early 2000s, the Coen brothers’ seventh movie had become a cult classic, with fans attending late-night screenings, and quoting word-perfect dialogue. Lines such as “That rug really tied the room together”, will get you a laugh-out-loud response from die-hard Lebowski fans every time.

Lebowski Fest was founded in 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky, and now has various incarnations around the US. This year’s New York festival, held on Monday and Tuesday, marked the launch of the Blu-Ray DVD of “The Big Lebowski”, and featured a cast reunion, including Jeff Bridges (The Dude), John Goodman (Walter), Julianne Moore (Maude) and Steve Buscemi (Donny).

Watch the Big Lebowski trailer:

Bridges told Rolling Stone that when he attended the LA Lebowski Fest in 2005, and his band played for the crowd, it was: “My Beatles moment”. Bridges may not be bigger than the Beatles – and John Turturro’s character from the film would no doubt argue that neither is he bigger than Jesus – but many Lebowski fans are supremely dedicated in their devotion to the film.

There’s even an Internet-based “religion” called the Latter-Day Church of the Dude [LINK TO:] (or, simply, Dudeism), which embodies one of the film’s tag lines: “Lebowski: not a man, a way of life”. Jeff Lebowski is no hero, but he’s certainly achieved anti-hero status among a generation of slackers (or wannabe slackers). As long as there are enough people around with a penchant for bowling, driving around and having occasional acid flashbacks, the Dude will doubtless abide. DM

Join the counter-revolutionary expansion movement. iMaverick.

Read more:

  • Dude Fest abides, in Variety;
  • Decade of the Dude: Rolling Stone’s 2008 feature on The Big Lebowski, in Rolling Stone;
  • Lebowski Fest website.