Considering the number of home-video releases The Big Lebowski has already had, such as 2005’s Collector’s Edition which I previously reviewed for Blogcritics, and its growing cult following, it was only a matter of time before the film made its way to Blu-ray. Some will likely take issue with the high-definition qualities and there’s not much reason for Achievers to double-dip.
As for the film itself, I previously declared, “The Coen Brothers deliver a masterful farce that turns the hard-boiled detective story on its ear by replacing the usual down-on-his-luck gumshoe with Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), better known as “The Dude,” a pot-smoking, White Russian-drinking bowler, who finds himself in the middle of a Raymond Chandler novel, complete with kidnapping, mistaken identity, embezzlement and double crosses.” Upon a repeat viewing, the film sustains its brilliance.
The video is presented in 1080p/VC-1 at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The colors are bright, particularly inside the bowling alley, which has me wondering if it was tweaked a little bit. Skin tones appear consistently pinker than they should. Blacks are solid and contribute to a strong contrast. DNR has been applied and is most noticeable in the smoothness of the actors’ faces. Details are noticeable in the texture of the Dude’s sweater and beard as well the wood grain of the bowling lanes.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. This dialogue-heavy track offers great clarity in the vocals and the music sounds robust through the entire system no matter the genre. Effects are given good treatment as well. Slightly immersive ambiance is most notable at the bowling alley. The subwoofer is most notable during the music, but also delivers some bottom end to effects such as the motorcycles, gunfire, and car crashes.
Most of the extras have been available on previous releases. From the Collector’s Edition, there is the “Exclusive Introduction” (SD; 5 min) by the fictional company Forever Young Preservations. More odd than anything else as the company figurehead talks about the film. “The Making of The Big Lebowski” (SD; 25) is an insightful interview with the Coen Brothers about the creation and shooting of the film. The “Photo Gallery” (SD; 3:25) presents close-ups of pictures taken by Bridges of cast and crew.
From the 10th anniversary disc, interview sessions with Bridges, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Goodman, the Coen brothers and John Turturro were edited together to make following featurettes. “The Dude’s Life” (HD; 10) is about the characters, “The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later” (HD; 10) covers the movie, and “Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude” (HD; 4:20) are as advertised. Also included are an “Interactive Map” of film locations and what they’ve become; an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes pictures in “Jeff Bridges Photo Book” (HD; 17:30); and an excerpt from “The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story” (SD; 14 min), which is a Star Trek Convention for Lebowski fanatics; and a “PSA for No Kid Hungry” (30 sec).
Extras exclusive to Blu-ray are Universal’s U-Control, which offers three extras. “Scene Companion” is a PIP commentary that reuses material from the extras. “Mark It, Dude” is a running counter that keeps track of things like how many times “Dude” is spoken or a profanity is used. “The Music of The Big Lebowski” offers information about the songs playing. For the committed fanatic, “Worthy Adversaries: What’s My Line Trivia” is a one- or two-player game where the film stops to allow a guess at an upcoming line of dialogue by either as Dude and/or Walter, but there are long patches between guesses. It should have happened more if they were going to bother to add it.
If a fan of The Big Lebowski and you don’t it in your collection and minor artificial tweaking doesn’t bother you, then The Limited Edition Blu-ray would be a great pick up. It comes with a Digital Copy and is housed in a Digibook that contains an excerpt from Rolling Stone; an interview with Jeff Dowd, the inspiration for Lebowski; trivia about the film.