straight down the line

Design in The Big Lebowski

For the film design review, I chose The Big Lebowski because I heard that it was a cult classic and was interested in finding out what it was about. When I was watching it, it definitely felt different than the noir films that I have seen so far. I could still see some elements that reminded me a lot of noir.

In the picture above, it is the scene were Walter has just thrown his fake money bag out the window. The Dude tries to run and give the actual money case to cars but they drive away. In this, the characters are standing on the side of the road in distress. The grittiness of the road and darkness of this scene are specific to noir no matter what time the film takes place.

There were other scenes similar to the one above where the scene could be lit brighter than it was, but it was dark.

This scene is during the beginning. Dude just got ambushed by random people asking for money. Even though the lights are on in his house, the scene is still relatively dark. The things around him also have elements of grittiness. His bathroom has a pink bathtub and toilet with a green and pink flower wallpaper. Each of these elements could appear to be bright and inviting but in his house, they are covered in filth. By designing the bathroom like this, a viewer of this film can conclude that he doesn’t live a luxurious life and could be
“lazy”, like the narrator said in the introduction.

While watching the movie, I noticed something interesting about the scene changes and the space of each scene.
The movie involves multiple different characters and their different houses. The one above shows that of a person that doesn’t live the best life, who is very lazy and unkempt.


This scene shows the Maude Lebowski’s apartment. It is very put together and shows her avant- garde style. Also, it still has the dark lighting found in most scenes in the film. Her house very much contrasts to the Dude’s house in grittiness but still has darkness.


Another character’s house that is in many scenes is Lebowski’s mansion. The house is big and very roomy with fancy designs all throughout. The lighting still appears dark and feels sort of depressing with the mass of space that it embodies.

Although all scenes and places appear to contrast each other at first, they all have noir elements of darkness and grittiness that are shown in different ways.


On a side note, the typography and symbols use in the beginning scene are different to the noir films that we have previously scene in class. Other noir films have a black or gray text with very simplistic designs. This typography used in this film makes it feel like the film will be one of humor more than moody, dramatic scenes. The bowling alley lights in contrast to the black background could mean that the film with have humor during dramatic scenes or funny elements and dark elements together.

I liked the film but it felt disjointed to me. I thought it was going have more adventure elements. It sort of felt like a slice of life, coming of age esque film. Every scene had something new and different with different lighting and design. Even though it had running plot, it still felt like I was watching a different film every couple minutes.

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