Tags: BD-Live, Ben Gazzara, Carter Burwell, David Huddleston, Digital Copy, Ethan Coen, Flea, Jack Kehler, Jeff Bridges, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joel Coen, John Goodman, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, Mark Pellegrino, Peter Stormare, Philip Moon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Pocket Blu, Roger Deakins, Sam Elliott, Steve Buscemi, T-Bone Burnett, Tara Reid, The Big Lebowski, The Dude, Torsten Voges, Universal
has an average rating of 8.2 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
book, exclusives, Digital Copy & more
– 119 minutes
This uses 30.7GB for the movie out of 40.2GB total.
Street Date: August 16th, 2011
Overall Verdict – The Dude Abides (for Now)
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was directed by Joel Coen. The film itself was written by The Coen Brothers, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen whose previous work included “Blood Simple” (1984), “Raising Arizona” (1987), “Miller’s Crossing” (1990), “Barton Fink” (1991), “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994) and “Fargo” (1996). Having said that, it’s very safe to say that these boys had established themselves with their six previous films prior to this. For their seventh film the Coens decided to base a character on one of their personal friends from the Los Angeles, CA. area who had helped them with some distribution rights on their first film in 1984. This man actually referred to himself in both first and third-person as “The Dude” and henceforth we have a main character of that very same name (nickname rather).
Our lead character’s full name is “Jeffrey Lebowski” (played by Jeff Bridges) and that name is very important to remember, despite him going by “The Dude“, as the whole plot revolves around a case of mistaken identity. It’s also worth noting that our lead character is not quite the definition of an accomplished individual, versus the millionaire that he is mistaken for. In fact, this Jeffery Lebowski is actually an unemployed stoner who spends most of his time bowling.
As mentioned, the lead character here refers to himself and his friends know him by “The Dude“. Having said that, it’s totally to dude’s surprise when two henchmen break into his apartment one night looking for a man by the name of Jeffrey Lebowski. Yes, this IS our lead character’s given name but he doesn’t go by that name and there surely are other guys with that name. It’s after one of the henchman (a Chinese man) pisses on the dude’s rug and reminds the other henchmen (definitely not a golfer) that the Lebowski they are looking for is supposed to be a millionaire that they realize they might have just assaulted the wrong man.
This assault in a case of mistaken identity really chaps dude’s ass and he ends up telling his bowling buddies “Walter” (played by John Goodman) and “Donny” (played by Steve Buscemi) about it the next day. It’s first worth telling you that Walter is a very eccentric fellow that believes he’s both a Vietnam veteran and still Jewish (by conversion) after he got divorced from his wife. Walter is a very opinionated man as well, one that doesn’t let the friend Donny ever get many words in, so it should come as no surprise that Walter convinces The Dude to go find the real Jeffrey Lebowski the thugs were looking for.
So fed up with the situation and encouraged by his friends our leading man makes his way to the other (wealthy) Lebowski’s residence where he is greeted by Mr. Lebowski’s assistant “Brandt” (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). Soon after Brandt gives The Dude a tour of Mr. Lebowski’s wall of awards and whatnot we get the displeasure of meeting “The Big Lebowski” (played by David Huddleston). The Dude tries to get “The Big Lebowski” to buy him a new rug to replace the one the thug (in actuality looking for him) urinated on. Dude doesn’t have much luck convincing him of the idea but ends up telling the assistant Brandt otherwise afterward — scoring a new rug. Also, afterward, as The Dude is leaving The Big Lebowski’s home he meets the millionaire’s young slut of a wife “Bunny” (played by Tara Reid) laying by the pool and offering a blowjob (at high price). All of these things (aside from the pricey BJ offer) are about to become vital to the essential plot here.
Lots of other characters are involved here who I didn’t get to really mention and I’ll run through some of these now. First you have the arch-nemesis (of sorts) to The Dude and his friends, a convicted pedophile by the name of “Jesus” (played by John Turturro). There’s the daughter of “The Big Lebowski”, by the name of “Maude” (played by Julianne Moore). There’s also the nihilists, comprised of Peter Stormare, Flea and Torsten Voges. Not to mention the pornographer “Jackie Treehorn” (played by Ben Gazzara) and also the narrator “The Stranger” (played by Sam Elliott).
“The Big Lebowski“, a film now thirteen years in age, has been called “The Most Worshiped Comedy of its Generation” by Rolling Stone and “#1 Cult Film of All Time” by The Boston Globe. It didn’t receive any Oscar (Academy Award) nominations but that didn’t stop it from achieving the status of one of The Coen Brothers‘ more popular films and a definitive cult-classic of the modern times. Also the film went on to inspire two fans to create “Lebowski Fest” which has been happening yearly now for 9 years, going on 10. They even have a special New York event planned for next month with a huge cast reunion in promotion for this Blu-ray Disc debut of the film, which is very cool to see. It’s safe to say this film is standing up to the test of time quite well and that it has a huge following of fans.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications listing this was shot on 35MM film using Arriflex 535 cameras. Also worth noting, as with most films by The Coen Brothers, Academy Award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins served as Director of Photography and his work is well-known for looking incredible when it comes to Hi-Def on Blu-ray. This presentation of this film may not be the very best example of that previous statement but it does look great, I’ll say that. I find it to look much better than it ever looked on the previous DVDs or even the HD-DVD release. Speaking of the HD-DVD, this obviously comes from a new transfer and that sadly does come with an obvious moderate use of DNR (digital noise reduction). Despite having that DNR use this does retain a pretty impressive amount of detail in the presentation, while not appearing too “smoothed over” (so-to-speak), it does seem a tad bit smooth at times. For example, almost all of the film grain, dirt, noise and such on the 35MM film print seems to have been either “cleaned up” or is smoothed over by DNR here digitally. It’s by no means horrible, it’s just far from perfect as a result of that DNR use and sure to cause some debate.
The black level is perfectly solid, the fleshtones are accurate and the color palette is definitely vibrant at times. While maybe not exactly 100% perfect in terms of Hi-Def presentation this does however look great and is impressive enough to earn itself a “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. Fans will be pleased, yet some “videophiles” might complain a little about the amount of DNR used causing it to seem too smooth. Not to worry if this doesn’t totally do it for you visually in Hi-Def, as it’s undoubted that this film will eventually receive a release on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection. However, having said that, until then this is the best video quality you’ll find “The Big Lebowski” in; in my opinion.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. This film is known for having an amazing soundtrack (compiled mostly by music archivist T-Bone Burnett) and also known for having amazingly foul-mouthed witty dialogue. I’m happy to report that both the film’s original music by Carter Burwell and songs on the Soundtrack sound excellent, with great use of the rear channel speakers and LFE (bass via the subwoofer). The dialogue here is delivered very, very distinctly throughout primarily the front center channel speaker but occasionally does get some pans throughout the front left and right channels. One scene in particular involving “Walter” and “The Dude” confronting “The Big Lebowski” involves this left to right front channel pan; with center channel usage as well.
Back to this film’s wonderful soundtrack. The film starts up, dialogue-driven for a while and then the opening credits roll as you hear Bob Dylan‘s “The Man In Me” play; which sounds downright excellent. You’ll also notice the sound of the bowling pins crashing here which sounds very realistic and also has a good amount of LFE (bass) to it. Sound effects here prove to be very impressive and all sound very realistic throughout the film. They also get some decent play out of the 5.1 soundscape at times. Later on in the film, the real highlight here in the sound mix truly (to me) has to be the dream sequence “The Dude” has where the song “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition is playing. I’ve heard this song a lot of times (not just in the film) and this is by far the best I’ve ever heard it. This sequence really “ties things together” as the “The Dude” might put it himself.
All and all, this mix is excellent and does the wonderful soundtrack and amazingly memorable dialogue justice. This earns itself a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Fans will definitely be pleased with this new lossless mix.
Bonus Materials are presented in both full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound — unless otherwise noted below.
- BD-Live is included on this Universal Blu-ray Disc release. This allows the user to access both online content as well as features like pocket BLU. BD-Live does require the user to be on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc Player and have Internet access.
- U-Control is included on this Universal Blu-ray Disc release. This has three variants (options) here and they are as follows. “Scene Companion“, “Mark It, Dude” and “The Music of The Big Lebowski“. These features are explained in further detail below individually.
- “Scene Companion“, part of “U-Control“, uses Bonus View to deliver Picture-In-Picture behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and such during key scenes during the film. Since this does (appear to) use Bonus View, it likely does require the user to be on a “Profile 1.1” capable Blu-ray Disc Player.
- “Mark It, Dude“, part of “U-Control“, is an on-screen “ticker” of sorts that counts all the times the word FUCK and DUDE are said as well as “Dudisms” as you watch the film. You’ll be surprised how many times those two words are said.
- “The Music of The Big Lebowski“, part of “U-Control“, is a cool on-screen feature that will tell you all the information about any current song playing in the film such as who originally wrote it, who performed it, etc. This proves to be very cool for a film with such an amazing soundtrack. This also allows you to compile your own custom playlist of the songs (in the video form as they appear in the film).
- “Worthy Adversaries: What’s My Line Trivia” (HD) is an interactive game that allows fans to test their knowledge of dialogue from the film in either single player or two player mode. The user(s) are able to play as either “The Dude” or “Walter” here. This could prove to only be so much fun for folks like myself who have seen the film over twenty times or so. I did have some issues with this feature while using a PS3. Only one line of dialogue ever came up to finish. Odd. I watched a good 10 minutes or so without a single “question” popping up. I even tried again playing as a different character and encountered the same very problem. Maybe this just doesn’t have many questions (dialogue lines to finish).
- “An Exclusive Introduction” (4:40 – SD) features Mortimer Young of Forever Young Film Preservation. This features DTS 2.0 Stereo @255kbps sound.
- “The Dude‘s Life” (10:08 – HD) includes interviews with cast members Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and John Turturro discussing the main character in the film. This featurette is somewhat recent, it was released originally in 2008 on a DVD re-release.
- “The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later” (10:27 – HD) was released back in 2008 on a DVD-re-release like the featurette above. This is a retrospective and includes interviews with cast members Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and John Turturro.
- “Making of The Big Lebowski” (24:35 – SD) features DTS 2.0 Stereo @255kbps sound. This includes interviews with the filmmakers Joel Coen & Ethan Coen as well as the cast members.
- “The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story” (13:53 – SD) features DTS 2.0 Stereo @255kbs sound.
- “Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude” (4:20 – HD) was from the 2008 DVD re-release of the film. It includes interviews with the cast members and archived Coen Brothers interviews.
- “Interactive Map” (HD) gives you a look at the real-life locations used to film key scenes. Each location plays a short video roughly a minute or so long showing the scene from the film and the semi-current (2008) real-life location.
- “Jeff Bridges Photo Book” (17:30 – HD) is really awesome to finally see in Hi-Def and as a featurette you view and not navigate through. Bridges even gives an introduction and glimpses at the actual photo book itself which was made for the cast and crew. This is from the 2008 DVD re-release.
- “Photo Gallery” (3:25 – SD) gives us even more photos from on-set taken by star Jeff Bridges. Most of these are featured in the photo book discussed above in Hi-Def. This features DTS 2.0 Stereo @255kbps sound.
- Digital Copy of the film is included via URL to go redeem using the activation code on the insert. This is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices as well as Mac and PC.
- 28-Page Booklet Packaging (pictured slightly further below) is included with lots of photos, memorable quotes, interviews and trivia.
Overall, the bonus materials here are pretty impressive considering you get the new Blu-ray EXCLUSIVES like the 3 U-Control features, the trivia game, the Digital Copy of the film as well as a good hour plus of DVD bonus materials “ported” over. A lot of which never even appeared on the previous HD-DVD release. Plus you get the booklet packaging and the 28-pages that make it up are great as well. This proves to be a solid set of supplemental material and physical bonus material for a non-anniversary (or special edition) release of a film on the format.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.