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THE BIG LEBOWSKI

About The Location
After a week of rehearsals, filming began on THE BIG LEBOWSKI on January 27, 1997, on location in North Hollywood with the brothers filming the scene in which the Dude reclaims his stolen car from an impound lot

After a week of rehearsals, filming began on THE BIG LEBOWSKI on January 27, 1997, on location in North Hollywood with the brothers filming the scene in which the Dude reclaims his stolen car from an impound lot.

The unit then moved to Beverly Hills, where scenes that take place at the Lebowski Pasadena mansion were filmed on two separate estates: one on Charing Cross Road and the other in Greystone Park, after which production shifted to a West Hollywood soundstage on which the interior of the Dude's Venice bungalow had been constructed.

Here work began several important sequences: the film's opening, in which the Dude is mistaken for the rich Lebowski and roughed up by two of Jackie Treehorn's thugs; the nearly surreal scene in which a group of so-called German nihilists surprise the Dude in his bath and set a marmot on him; the Dude's visit from two police officers who question him about his missing car; and the Dude's two encounters in his home with the mysterious, elegant, enigmatic Maude Lebowski, an avant-garde feminist painter.

In terms of real estate, the Dude's bungalow and the Lebowski mansion exist at opposite ends of the spectrum, of course. But both are significant in the film, in that they demonstrate the various layers of Los Angeles life the Dude must travel across as he unravels the mystery of THE BIG LEBOWSKI that has more or less landed in his lap.

The houses are also important, however, because of what they reveal about the characters who reside inside. The Lebowski mansion, outsized, opulent and austere, speaks big money; the Dude's house, anything but. It's comfortable, yet shabby in the extreme. So in visual terms alone, we learn a lot about the two Lebowskis just by seeing where they live. This is not unusual for the Coens. Sophisticated, exquisitely wrought visuals are a hallmark of their work and here, once again, the brothers attain their stunning, unique, unforgettable images working with three key collaborators--Roger Deakins, Rick Heinrichs and Mary Zophres.

Production designer Heinrich neatly describes the challenges he faced on film.

"Throughout, we wanted to reference a traditional Los Angeles. We focused on LA architecture from the 50s and 60s, not only to establish the feel of the city, but also to comment on the characters of the Dude and Walter, who are anchored in the past in the way they lead their lives. Somehow this architecture even refers back to Vietnam era--which is so important to Walter and to the Dude, in a way."

"Of course we didn't want to overdo it and hit the audience over the head, so the Lebowski mansion is opulent in a fairly traditional way--we wanted to summon up the greenhouse scene in The Big Sleep --and the Dude's bungalow is cluttered, threadbare and kind of representative of its type."

Some of the most interesting elements in the look of the film were not in fact created by Heinrich, but rather enhanced by him, because they belonged to the architecture that came with several locations. For instance, the two coffee shops that figure in the action. Both of the places we used, Johnnie's, on Fairfax and Wilshire, and Dinah's, in Culver City, are Los Angeles landmarks, prime examples of the Googie style of architecture from the 50s and 60s. They really represent the world the Dude and Walter inhabit.

"Of course," Heinrich continues, "when it came to the studio we

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