Themes in The Big Lebowski

The Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski is no doubt a cult favorite and generally a stellar film that will go down Harry Dalian, The Big Lewbowskiin history as one of the most memorable and unique. One of its greatest pleasures is that The Big Lebowski is one of those films you can watch over and over again because you love it, and at the same time, it is one of those films you can, and should, watch over and over again to pick up on more subtle themes and “easter eggs”.

If you’re one of the ones who’s watched it over and over again, excellent. Check out this list and let me know what you think. If you’re not, here are a few themes in The Big Lebowski you might have missed:

Castration as a ThemeHarry Dalian, Scissors Big Lebowski

Throughout the film you’ll realize that the male characters the story follows are not the impressive or enviable protagonists one would normally encounter in a hollywood film. The men in the film are portrayed as incompetent and even physically disabled. In contrast, the female characters were written to be more powerful than the men, or out of their control, in the case of bunny.

Imagery that illustrates the theme of castration in The Big Lebowski can be found in multiple places. When we first meet Maude Lebowski, the dude enters her studio, and before we see her hoisted up to the ceiling “painting” from above, held up by two men with pulleys, we see a giant painting of scissors. The introduction to scissors as an image of castration is here, and also recurs in Lebowski’s drea sequence when he is chased by a man with giant scissors. The three thugs after Lebowski also threaten to castrate him (humorously) if he doesn’t comply with their plan.

Ringing Phone

Throughout the film, The Dude’s phone is almost constantly ringing. What you’ll notice, though, is that he doesn’t answer it. The dude, perhaps, knows he’ll learn whatever it is eventually, and this is shown when the police are at his house and Maude calls him, “I am the one who took your rug”.

Tumbleweed and BowlingHarry Dalian, Tumbleweed

There’s no secret that tumbleweed makes an appearance, as it is the image that guides us into the film: we follow a blowing tumbleweed across the dessert finally toward a large reveal of the extensively lit city of Los Angeles. Remember, though, that Lebowski is essentially of the same character of the tumbleweed: without aim, just rolling with the wind wherever it takes him.

When Lebowski and his Bowling team discuss going to “roll”, their big obsession with bowling may pay homage and draw comparison to the life of a tumbleweed.