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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Rocha

To See The Art In The Entertainment

Updated: May 25, 2021

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how art and entertainment are subjective topics. It depends on the viewer what is art and what is entertainment, and as E.A Bucchianeri says “art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation.”. Of course, it’s difficult to just say it, so we’ll be looking at an example of looking at a film critically and seeing what makes it a piece of art for some people. So, be prepared, this is going to be more of an essay, rather than a regular blog post.

The film we’ll be looking at today is The Big Lebowski (1998). It is a crime comedy film, created by the Coen Brothers. It follows a man named Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, played by Jeffrey Bridges, who is mistaken for a millionaire with the same name, played by David Huddleston. What ensues is a series of strange events that happen around The Dude, as he gets pulled along by all those involved.

The Beauty Of A Plot

In most standard films, you’ll always find a plot, unless you’re watching an experimental film, in which case, throw the idea of a plot out the window. The Big Lebowski has a plot, of course, since it was created in Hollywood, and by a British film company (or companies, since two of them are listed as its production companies), but it’s rather questionable whether or not it is a plot or just a bunch of random events that happened to The Dude.

The reason I say this is because most of the events in The Big Lebowski are utterly ridiculous, you’d never expect them to ever happen in real life. A prime example of this is the fact that Jeffrey Lebowski is apparently a common name in the state of California, that The Dude is easily mistaken for his millionaire counterpart. On top of that, the fact he can even meet up with him is almost like a dream in and of itself already. Most of the time, when you think about being able to meet up with a millionaire, in his home, you’d probably think that you’d need to be already good friends with said millionaire, or at least know family and friends close to him/her. The fact that a scruffy and unemployed bowling enthusiast can easily waltz in and out of the Big Lebowski’s home is almost too ridiculous to comprehend.

Another reason why the plot isn’t exactly a plot is in the series of events that take place after The Dude meets the Big Lebowski. Firstly, Bunny Lebowski, played by Tara Reid, is apparently kidnapped. The kidnappers demand a million-dollar ransom, or they’d kill Bunny. Somehow Maude Lebowski, played by Julianne Moore, drags The Dude into an investigation against her father. The Dude is then framed for losing a million dollars, and Bunny’s toe is sent as a warning. It turns out that Bunny was a porn star, and her “friends” from a German band, are the ones who’re threatening the Big Lebowski. Maude wants to have The Dude’s baby, and finally, Bunny returns, and the reason she was missing throughout the film was because she’d been visiting a friend on the other side of the state, and didn’t tell anyone.

It’s all over the place, and there really isn’t a coherent plot or any character development whatsoever. I mean, The Dude just goes along with everything, and doesn’t even bat an eyelash when they find out that Bunny Lebowski was just visiting a friend, and her German friends cashed in on it, to make it look like a kidnapping. It just seems like a mishmash of events, strung along together, for the sake of proving The Dude is nothing but a stoned bum who plays championship league bowling, and who just likes to live an easy life of getting high and bowling. Now, while regular filmgoers might forgive the film for its lack of a plot, or even character development, serious film critics wouldn’t even look at this film as anything but entertainment. However, it is because it is entertainment that it is art.

It’s In The Genre

A lot of the time comedy is overlooked as a serious critical genre, but for many who know how technical comedy can be, the art is in the comedy. If you go up to a stand-up comedian and ask them who their favourite comedian is and why, you’ll get a whole range of names and an essay full of reasons. That’s because the beauty of comedy isn’t just in the laughter that can come from a good joke. It’s the composition of the joke that makes it art.

That’s why, although The Big Lebowski is overlooked as just another entertainment piece, those who really appreciate it, appreciate it because of the genre and because of the film’s composition. The easy-going and laidback attitude that is retained throughout the film, despite the ridiculous situations that Jeffrey Lebowski is involved in, is what makes The Big Lebowski a critically acclaimed film, amongst those who truly appreciate the art of comedy.

A Good Film Is What You Believe Is A Good Film

Most of the time, critics will tell you, “this is a good film because…” there are many reasons they’ll list off. They’ll even write essays about it, just like this one, but essentially a good film is something that only you can appreciate. As I mentioned before, Bucchianeri once said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and it is up to you to decide what makes a good film. Similarly, it is up to you what film can be considered an art. Even Disney movies, aimed at children, with all its complexities of moral lessons, can be considered art, to those who truly study them as such.

So, don’t completely write off a film, just because it’s not considered art, in the eyes of “professional critics”. They may decide what is classified as art, but that does not mean they’re the only ones qualified to do that. Regular moviegoers can also decide what is art, according to their own tastes. They just need to be emotionally attached to the film, and tell you what the parts of that film make it art. That’s why, even though films are mostly regarded as a form of entertainment, they are more often than not a piece of art, for those dedicated enough to identify it. After all, books, theatre, paintings and sculptures, and stained glass are called art themselves, despite the fact that they too can be classified as entertainment.

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