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About The Choreography / Costumes

Choreographers Jacqui and Bill Landrum worked with the brothers on the number, which was largely inspired by Busby Berkeley'sAbout The Choreography / Costumes choreography for the 1930 film Whoopee! starring Eddie Cantor.

We put together a tape of various sequences and patterns from the film for Ethan and Joel and they responded, says Jacqui Landrum. The feeling was exactly what they wanted.

We also showed the reel to Jeff Bridges who had to dance in the scene. Jeff is a natural dancer. He's uninhibited. We showed him various steps and combinations and he took what he felt comfortable with, and just kind of owned them.

In the sequence the Dude is dressed as a handyman in a jumpsuit and a full tool belt--a dramatic change from the bowling/ beach gear he sports for the most of the action.

The way I dress the Dude and his friends in the film is character-driven, says costume designer Mary Zophres, a way of having the clothes tell the story about the person as well as the action. It's obvious the Dude gives little thought to what he wears, and the costumes show that. Things tend, well, not to match. It's the opposite with, say, Maude who's eccentric but regal. This woman gives a lot of consideration to what she puts on and you sense it right away.

Zophres approach was embraced by all the actors, especially Bridges. The Dude may not pay much notice to his clothing, but this wasn't the case with the actor who played him.

Jeff wore his costumes during rehearsal and also took them home to wear, Zophres says. He simply inhabited the guy. Steve Buscemi actually copied the outfits of great bowlers that he found photos of. The clothes don't make these guys, but they definitely help tell the story.

As for the Dude, Bridges, the Coens and Zophres carefully crafted his outfit for the dream sequence, since it contrasts with what he wears for the rest of the film. Cinematographer Roger Deakins also consulted with the Coens about the scene. Deakins, who not only lights but operates the camera, is a master of composition and framing. Most of THE BIG LEBOWSKI is shot in his pristine, richly evocative style, saturated with shadows and color, highly representative of the film noir mood the brothers were after. The dream sequence is equally imaginative but shot with bright, direct light.

We lit the Dude and all the dancing girls exactly as Busby Berkeley would have lit them in the 30s and 40s, Deakins says. I think he would have recognized what we were doing and been quite at home with it.

A second dream sequence, as well as several days of bluescreen work, took place on a West Hollywood sound stage, and production was completed after eleven and a half weeks of filming on April 24, 1997


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