Third annual Steamboat Springs Big Lebowski Festival to take place Friday
Steamboat Springs — There’s only one kind of party at which bathrobes, White Russians and a lackadaisical state of mind are acceptable and even encouraged.
At this kind of party, “The Dude” always abides.
The 1998 film, “The Big Lebowski,” — directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring Jeff Bridges as “The Dude,” a slacker caught up in a case of mistaken identity — has done more than stand the test of time; it’s created a national phenomenon with fans gathering around the country to sip the quintessential “Dude” cocktail, White Russians, bowl and recite favorite quotes from the film.
Tonight, the Chief Theater will host the third annual Steamboat Springs Big Lebowski Festival with the movie shown on multiple screens, prizes for the best costumes, a Wii Bowling Tournament and of course, “Big Lebowski” themed food. The event gets underway at 7 p.m.
“A festival like this just unites like-minded people,” said Scott Parker, executive director of the Chief. “It has maybe this Colorado state of mind where you just need to be happy and mellow. I think Steamboat is a very “Lebowski” type of town — you just do what you want to do and be happy doing it. Here, it’s skiing; in his life, it was bowling.”
Many attendees dress as characters from the film, creating a unique DIY costume event. A few who have frequented the Chief Theater the past two years include The Dude’s sidekick, Walter (John Goodman in the film), a Russian dressed in white, a marmot from the well-known bathtub scene, The Dude’s rug, a Valkyrie maiden named Maude (Julianne Moore in the film) and Jesus (John Turturro in the film).
The full-fledged fans acquire a handful of lines and esoteric references, adding to the night’s Rocky Horror Picture Show-type following.
“It’s definitely cool to see everyone in character,” said Chad McGown, who has attended the event the past two years. “The film lends itself to that kind of role playing. And one of the great things about it, too, is that there are so many quotable lines.”
While the film struggled when it was initially released, the first official Lebowski Fest was held in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002.
Local Holly MacKinnon has attended three of the larger, original Lebowski Festivals, two in Louisville and one in Denver. Festivities at these large gatherings, she said, included screenings of the film, all-day bowling, Trivia, karaoke, White Russians, a variety of games related to the film and, at a few, appearances from some of the film’s actors, including Bridges, Turturro, Peter Stormare, Moore and Steve Buscemi.
“The film is incredible, because every time you watch it, you find something new. It is also so unique and absurd,” said MacKinnon. “It is clever and easily quoted if you know the movie. It’s a cult classic that has such a great group of followers that are laid back and very nice.”
While uncertain as to precisely what spurred the phenomenon surrounding the film, McGown speculated it could be the fact that each character represents a kind of subset within society that retain their cultural relevance nearly 20 years after the film’s release. Now, there are such things as “Dudism,” an organized religion that offers ordination through dudeism.com.
“The whole idea of Jeff Bridges’ character is that be-in-the-moment kind of feeling, almost like a Buddhist-type of mindset,” Parker said. “He is just a guy who wants to bowl and drink White Russians but is thrown into a series of weird, wacky events. That’s what’s so cool; this is a real movie about an ordinary guy.”
Tickets for the Third annual Steamboat Springs Big Lebowski Festival are $10 for general admission and $20 for admission and a T-shirt. They can be purchased online at chieftheater.com or at All That.
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