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Essay on Film Noir: The Big Sleep

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Film Noir is a genre of distinct and unique characteristics. Mostly prominent in the 40s and 50s, the genre rarely skewed from the skeletal plot to which all Film Noir pictures follow. The most famous of these films is The Big Sleep (1946) directed by Howard Hawks. This film is the go to when it comes to all the genre’s clichés. This formula for film is so well known and deeply understood that it is often a target for satire. This is what the Coen brothers did with 1998’s The Big Lebowski. This film follows to the T what Film Noir stands for.
The Big Lebowski is a stoner comedy about a middle-aged hippie who likes to go bowling. The main action of the plot begins when two thugs break into Jeffery Lebowski’s (a.k.a “The Dude”) apartment and try to shake him down for debt his wife has incurred. After some physical abuse, a lot of yelling, and a rug-urination incident the Dude is able to convince them that they have the wrong man. The thugs have come to the wrong Jeffery Lebowski’s house there is another man by the same name with a “nympho” wife named Bunny and much more money. At the instigation of his bowling buddies, the violent Vietnam veteran Walter and the meek and rarely heard Donnie, he takes his soiled rug to the mansion of the “Big Lebowski” to demand a replacement. He eventually leaves, having taken a replacement rug off the floor of the big Lebowski’s floor. This odd incident leads to his involvement in the complicated kidnapping of Bunny. Though he insists that the woman has simply gone on vacation without bothering to tell her much-older husband, the Dude finds himself inextricably involved in a plot involving a pornographer, nihilists, and a kind-of love affair with the big Lebowski’s daughter Maude. Eventually the...


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..., all-powerful figure who serves as a catalyst. He represents Money. He is also present in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. He is the man who has contributed to the construction of the city. He symbolizes the old order, and, at the end, he discovers it is all a sham…The Big Lebowski, in his wheelchair, recalls the equally paralyzed General Sternwood,
while his wife Bunny and daughter Maude are reminiscent of the two Sternwood daughters, Vivian and Carmen” (Bergan 201). These two women also provide that all-important aspect of the femme fatale. Bunny is the impulsive, sexualized woman who acts without thinking, and lives by the charity of the elderly husband who just can’t tell her no. Maude is the dark, intelligent, manipulative woman. She works in the background, accomplishing what she wants, only telling others what they need to hear for her to get what she wants.







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