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The Dude's apartment

Movie The Big Lebowski Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (1998)
Very few films have been so adored. The Big Lebowski is much more than a feature film: it is a social phenomenon. After all, how many works of fiction can claim to have given birth to a spiritual movement that has now gathered more than 400,000 followers?
606 Venezia Avenue Venice
606 Venezia Avenue, Venice, California - Credit: Google Street View

“I could be just sitting at home with pee stains on my rug.”

Jeffrey Lebowski, aka The Dude (Jeff Bridges)

Shot in the space of eleven weeks, at the beginning of 1997, The Big Lebowski is one of those films that is intimately linked to the city where it takes place. Here, Los Angeles is almost a character in its own right. A city where still floats the psychedelic effluvia of the sixties, not quite ready to change century, just like the Dude. This Venice resident is mainly interested in three things: bowling, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the White Russian, the famous cocktail that also became cult thanks to the movie. His residence is one of the key places in the film. So much so that as soon as an apartment becomes available, the ads mention “the Dude’s apartment”. The team chose the Venice neighborhood because of its cool and diverse character. Jeffrey Lebowski could not live anywhere else but here, in this enclave populated by extravagant characters. And so much the worse if since, the district was a little gentrified because around 606 Venezia Avenue, the atmosphere remained the same.

Known for its dialogue, the performances of its actors and its special tone, The Big Lebowski also has a great deal of realism. Most of the characters are inspired by real people. Jeff Lebowski is the fictional version of Jeff Dowd, a producer nicknamed the Dude. Julianne Moore’s character Maude is more or less modelled on the artist Carolee Schneemann, and the whimsical Walter Sobchak, played with glee by John Goodman, refers to the director of Conan the Barbarian, John Milius.

The spiritual movement inspired by the adventures of the Dude, the character played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, is called Dudeism. The principle? Encourage a casual, sarcastic attitude and advocate open-mindedness and passivity. Did Ethan and Joel Coen, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and John Goodman have any idea that this neo-film noir centered on the bizarre adventures of a bowling fan on the fringe would be the object of such fascination? Did they think that a few years after the release, a festival would be created, the Lebowski Fest, to celebrate the genius of the Dude? Jeff Bridges will deliver his feelings in the book I am Lebowski, You are a Lebowski: “What surprises me is that it didn’t do as well as I thought it would when it first came out. It was so damn funny, and the Coen brothers had just won the Academy award for Fargo – I thought people would flock to this thing. To tell you the truth, I was sort of disappointed. But now … well … I’m glad people are digging it, that it found its audience.”

Influenced by the writings of Raymond Chandler, The Big Lebowski was first presented on January 18, 1998 during the Sundance Film Festival. If its success in theaters remains very modest, the film has gained over the years a real cult status. It is part of the National Film Registry.

6

Dude’s Day is celebrated every year on March 6th by fans of the film. It is fashionable to bowl while drinking White Russians or or to do nothing at all.

Scene in front of The Dude's apartment in The Big Lebowski
Scene in front of The Dude’s apartment in The Big Lebowski – Credit: Gramercy Pictures
Scene in front of The Dude's apartment in The Big Lebowski
Scene in front of The Dude’s apartment in The Big Lebowski – Credit: Gramercy Pictures

606 Venezia Ave

Hidden behind a thick hedge, Jeffrey Lebowski’s pavilion, aka The Dude, is one of the favorite spots for visiting moviegoers in Venice Beach.

If the Dude’s home as seen in the film, with the famous carpet and the little bar containing all the ingredients of the White Russian, was built in a West Hollywood studio, the exteriors were indeed filmed in this private residence. Still recognizable today, it is located a few blocks north of the famous canals and Marina Del Rey, on an avenue leading straight to the waterfront. It is a private property and it is of course forbidden to push the white gate to get a closer look at the building.

Go there

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Cult! movies: 100 mythical places of cinema [French Edition]

Since the dawn of cinema, films have invaded the world and highlighted sometimes unexpected places. Every film location has its secrets. The latter are sometimes as exciting as the feature films themselves.

Did you know that the cemetery where the final duel of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was built from scratch and that no body lies there? Or that the bus ofInto The Wild has been moved to discourage fans from spending the night there? From the story of the construction of The Bridge on the River Kwai to the incredible encounter during the shooting of the last scene ofIndiana Jones and the Last Crusadeembark on an exciting world tour with the greatest stars of the seventh art. Shiver in the real haunted house ofAmityville and discover the terrifying anecdotes of the making ofApocalypse Now in the Philippines. Visit the building of Blade Runner before stopping at Hogwarts and finally landing in Jurassic Parkin the middle of the Hawaiian archipelago. What if we also took you behind the scenes of the making of the Hobbits’ village of Lord of the Rings ?

Produced by a team of pop-culture specialists and enhanced by numerous anecdotes, Cult! movies tells the secrets of the places that made the history of cinema.

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By Gilles Rolland

Friday, March 4, 2022

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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