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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