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Film Design- “The Big Lebowski”

In “The Big Lebowski,” I honestly did not see much of the city scape, so this assignment is somewhat difficult. Most of the scenes took place in the bowling alley, Dude’s house, teen’s neighborhood, Treehorn’s beach home, the art studio, the Lebowski mansion, and the restaurant.

With regard to the bowling alley, it is poorly lit on the exterior and this was built in 1962. A place like this could have been used in noir since the lack of lighting could give a more mysterious mood to this alley. The parking lot was consistently almost- empty, creating a suspenseful mood as is seen in noir. With regards to the interior, it is like any other bowling alley: evenly lit. Inside there is a red color scheme that seems to be prominent. The banners on the wall differ in color and typography from those directly beside one another, making each one stand out. When Dude is outside of his house confronting the man who had been following him, one can see some of the other shabby-looking homes close by illuminated by few streetlights. Also, in his home there is one scene where the Venetian blonds create an effect on Dude when he is talking to the woman in his bed, almost interrogating her about what has been going on. This can relate to a person being questioned in a noir film that is typically set in an office (The lamp and Venetian blinds are also seen when Dude is in the police chief’s office after he was caught walking drugged in the street). The one scene where Walter smashes the windows of the teenage boy’s car takes place is a higher class neighborhood than Dude’s as indicated by the homes that reside there; they look to be better constructed and the sidewalk is paved neater. This took place at night, which is when most dramatic scenes of noir films take place as well. The most prominent home that is seen is Jackie Treehorn’s beach home. This architecture is designed in a more modern way and this type of home would not have been seen in most past noir films since this kind of development came in the 1960s. Most noir films came before this time so most noir films contain scenes of city-streets and buildings rather than homes like these. But a noir moment in this beach home had to be when the pool water was casting somewhat of a shadow effect on the ceiling when Treehorn is standing over Dude after his drink had been drugged. The art studio had dark lighting when Dude first entered it to see the woman flying above him to throw paint on the paper. It was a rather suspenseful moment when he first looks down the dark hall to see the light at the end where the main studio was. There was a use of lamp lighting on the floor when he is talking to the woman, which is typically a lighting source in noir. The building used as the Lebowski mansion was constructed in 1931 and is nicely kept on the exterior and the interior. The diplomas, awards, and trophies are different from each other; the typography of each diploma and award not the same as the ones next to them. The scene where Dude is near the fireplace with the older Lebowski is lit only from the fireplace, creating a slightly eerie mood as the older Lebowski tells Dude his wife has been taken. The letter Dude reads exemplifies differing typography as well in this scene. The restaurants used in the film would be seen in noir type films since most conversations between characters can occur in these places. We see Walter and Dude there and a sign is in that back that shows a 50’s styled as of a boy carrying a large burger in his arms. The other restaurant is seen when the Russian crew is sitting at a both and we see the female character is the one with the missing toe. The second restaurant scene is filmed at night, suggesting a dangerous kind of mood since we are seeing the group who plans on killing Dude, which differs from the first daylight restaurant scene.

Other small places I took note of were the mortuary and the city lights that were usually only seen from the interior of a home. The mortuary had a Bible verse lettered on the wall, an example of typography in design. With the city lights, most were blue tinted and this was seen when Dude was initially knocked out and dreaming he was flying over the city. In another dream, one of the photos from the studio seemed to come to life; the one of the pair of red scissors. This created a suspenseful effect since we would see Dude in a state of distress as he ran from them. But I think the fact that most of the parking lots and driveways were empty at night can create a noir-suspense mood for the audience since it gives to the notion that no one is around to really witness the events taking place, especially in the scene where the Russians were standing in front of Dude’s flame engulfed car.

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