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THE COEN BROTHERS’ 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski takes the expression ‘cult following’ to literal extremes. The Church of the Latter Day Dude, named after the film’s lead character, has ordained more than 450,000 clergy dedicated to spreading the gospel of ‘Dudeism’. For 16 years, fans of the film have been gathering for the annual Lebowski Fest, first held in Louisville, Kentucky, and then in cities all over the world.

Twenty years after its first release,

The Big Lebowski is as fresh as ever. It’s an absurdist tale of a hippy slacker known as ‘ The Dude’. But The Dude’s real name on his birth certificate is Jeffrey Lebowski, which is unfortunately the same name as a man involved in nefarious dealings including a kidnapping that may or may not be fake. There’s also a gang of nihilists, an unhinged military veteran and some weird 10-pin bowlers.

The film brims with great lines, which are still met with howls of laughter by those who are initiated into the cult. It’s also stuffed with unique, memorable characters, whether they have one line or a hundred. Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman all won their Oscars in more serious films, but this was surely their funniest.

Sheer pleasure makes the film worth repeated viewing, but the real reward is the rich philosophy underpinning all the comic insanity. The film is set at the time of the First Gulf War that drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. President George Bush Sr is shown on television saying,

‘ This will not stand.’ The film shows the often tragic and futile consequences of making this your rule for life. The Dude looks like a dropout slacker, but in a world in which more ambitious folk are at each other’s throats, his call to simply ‘abide’ makes him an unlikely example to us all.

Coen 兄弟於1998年編導的喜劇《大保齡離奇綁架》,可說將「追隨異教」推至一個極端。以片中主角Dude的名字而成立的組織The Church of the Latter Day Dude(末世Dude 教會),經已按立超過 450,000 位神職人員,一心一意向世人傳播「Dude 教」。16年來,這部電影的忠實擁躉更會每年一度聚會,舉行Lebowski Fest電影節,向心愛的電影致敬。這個活動最初在肯塔基州Louisville市舉行,其後亦在全球各地多個城市舉行。

於20年前首度公映的《大保齡離奇綁架》,今天看來仍然充滿新鮮感,完全不覺得過時。這是一個荒唐可笑的故事,主角The Dude是個遊手好閒的嬉皮士; The Dude當然不是真名,他的出生證書上寫著他名叫Jeffrey Lebowski。很不幸,一名捲入一宗疑幻似真的綁架案的惡棍,亦是叫這個名字。片中還有一群虛無主義者,一名精神有問題的退伍軍人和幾個保齡球怪客。

電影裡精采的對白俯拾皆是,觀眾無論一看再看均會捧腹大笑。片中亦充斥著各種獨特而令人印象深刻的角色,他們無論只講了一句還是長篇大論的對白,都同樣教人難忘。Jeff Bridges、Julianne Moore 與

Philip Seymour Hoffman各自憑其他較嚴肅的作品而榮獲奧斯卡,不過他們在本片中的演出,肯定最搞笑。


The Dude 表面上是個散漫又一事無成的人,但在一個人人都抱著拼個你死我活的態度來生活的世界裡,他那種「隨波逐流」態度,反而成了大家的榜樣。

This month’s critic: philosopher Julian Baggini選片人 : 哲學家朱立安巴吉尼

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