How Well Do You Know ‘The Big Lebowski’?

The Coen brothers have always had a distinctive visual style that leans toward excessive architectural detail — lengthy hallways, strange interior decorating, forced viewpoints, lonely landscapes, and lurid cityscapes — that has become synonymous with their work. When they are in a location that is apparently realistic, such as the suburbs of “A Serious Man” (2009), they prefer to push the boundaries of what is realistic. Their suburb is a condensed version of the term “suburbhood.” During the filming of “The Big Lebowski,” their central setting is a bowling alley, with their primary colors being what could be characterized as Brunswick Orange and turquoise. The alley is unusually underpopulated, and the length of its lanes makes it seem dizzying. One point of view photo is taken from within a moving bowling ball. When Jeff is hallucinating or unconscious, he enters weird dream realms that he cannot explain.

Christos Quintana (John Turturro), one of their fellow bowlers, is a guy who has transformed himself into a work of art in his own glory. The Nihilists, a group of supporting characters led by Peter Stormare, are yet another group of minor characters (who played the man feeding the body of Buscemi into the wood chipper in “Fargo”). In the film, Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays Brandt, the adoring aide of The Big Lebowski, who has a significant part to play. It has a devoted following, some of whom have watched it hundreds of times. I’m sure they’ve already noticed that Hoffman and David Huddleston, who portrays the Big Lebowski, have a striking resemblance in terms of their familial backgrounds. Someone who is unfamiliar with the film may be forgiven for believing that Philip Seymour Hoffman plays both parts, the older guy with expert makeup effects, and the younger man with realistic makeup effects. Is this a coincidence? I would not rule out the possibility that the Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, might contribute to this misunderstanding. I believe Huddleston was cast because of his physical similarity to Huddleston.

Jeff Lebowski’s ability to maintain his composure in the face of adversity is the focus of the film. He is pummeled, waterboarded, lied to, and humiliated, among other things. His rug has been peed on, and his car has been set on fire. He gets enticed by a woman who is just interested in his seed. Although he is presented with a wealth, it is quickly replaced with telephone books and worn-out boxer shorts in front of him. As a means of healing and maintaining his well-being, he prepares another White Russian and takes a toke while sitting in a warm bath. His attention is drawn to the larger picture, as is that of the Buddha.

The Stranger serves as the film’s narrator (Sam Elliott, never more gloriously mustached). After all is said and done, it is he who sees that the Dude Abides and adds he has heard there is a little Lebowski on the way. In contrast, the Dude is forbidden matrimony and appears to have no ladies in his life, save for a few who happen to come along by accident. Is he depressed as a result of this? Is he apprehensive about the prospect of being unemployed for an extended period of time? No. What more does a man need, really, if he has a roof over his head, fresh half-and-half for his White Russians, a little marijuana, and a group of bowling pals to hang out with?

“Start the Quiz”

  • Question of

    Who has the money?

    • The Big Lebowski
    • Bunny
    • The Nihilists
    • Jackie Treehorn
  • Question of

    What Bob Dylan song plays during the film’s opening credits?

    • ‘Lay Lady Lay’
    • ‘Like a Rolling Stone’
    • ‘The Man in Me’
    • ‘Forever Young’
  • Question of

    What is The Dude’s favorite drink?

    • Manhattan
    • White Russian (a.k.a. Caucasian)
    • Gin and Tonic
    • Old Fashioned
  • Question of

    In what year does The Big Lebowski take place?

    • 1988
    • 1994
    • 1999
    • 1991
  • Question of

    What prolific Western actor narrates the film as The Stranger?

    • Sam Elliott
    • Clint Eastwood
    • Jeff Bridges
    • Robert Duvall
  • Question of

    For what single item does The Dude write a check totaling 69 cents at the supermarket in the opening sequence?

    • An Orange
    • Beef Jerky
    • Candy Bar
    • Quart of Milk
  • Question of

    What religion does Walter practice?

    • Catholocism
    • Judaism
    • Southern Baptist
    • Islam
  • Question of

    Who is the ‘known p*rn*grapher’ to whom Bunny Lebowski owes money?

    • Jack Horner
    • Ron Jeremy
    • Jackie Treehorn
    • Buck Swope
  • Question of

    In what war did Jeffrey Lebowski (a.k.a. The Big Lebowski) lose the use of his legs?

    • World War I
    • Korean War
    • World War II
    • Vietnam War
  • Question of

    What item does The Dude want The Big Lebowski to replace?

    • His rug
    • His car
    • His bowling ball
    • His door
  • Question of

    Which of the following is *not* one of the alternative names The Dude suggests to The Big Lebowski?

    • His Dudeness
    • Mounsieur Dude
    • Duder
    • El Duderino
  • Question of

    What acclaimed actor portrays The Big Lebowski’s assistant Brandt?

    • John Goodman
    • Ben Gazarra
    • William H. Macy
    • Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Question of

    What does Walter put in the ‘ringer’ briefcase instead of the ransom payment?

    • Telephone books
    • His dirty undies
    • Shredded paper
    • Packing peanuts
  • Question of

    What actor frequently used in Coen Brothers films portrays bowling rival Jesus?

    • John Turturro
    • Stephen Root
    • George Clooney
    • Steve Buscemi
  • Question of

    What actress plays Maude Lebowski?

    • Tara Reid
    • Julianne Moore
    • Tilda Swinton
    • Frances McDormand
  • Question of

    The Big Lebowski is largely inspired by the works of what well-known crime writer?

    • Dashiell Hammett
    • Raymond Chandler
    • Agatha Christie
    • Elmore Leonard

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