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The Big Lebowski: The Making of a Coen Brothers Film Paperback – March 17, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393317501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393317503
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since their debut with Blood Simple in 1984, Joel and Ethan Coen have created a unique body of work that seems to project their combined imaginations directly onto the movie screen. By concentrating on the filming of their homage to Raymond Chandler, The Big Lebowski, this book provides a great deal of insight into the way that these extraordinary filmmakers take an idea and transform it into a movie.

Text and illustrations combine to reveal the Coens' combination of quirkiness and craft, and the ways that the singular (or is it binary?) vision of the brothers combines with actors and crew in the group effort necessary to produce a finished film. This book doesn't attempt a critical analysis of the work of Joel and Ethan Coen--the complexity of their vision resists such an approach. Instead, we're treated to a fly-on-the-wall view of the creative process, and it's enough to get the most casual film lover to grab a notebook, rent a camera, and start making movies! --Simon Leake

About the Author

Tricia Cooke, an editor on the Coens's films, is married to Ethan Coen and lives in New York.

William Preston Robertson is a screenwriter, documentarian, and journalist living in New York City.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Jones on November 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book for anyone interested in the Coen brother's films, or indeed anyone interested in the filmmaking process. While the book is true to its title, other Coen films such as 'Raising Arizona', 'Miller's Crossing' and 'Barton Fink' are also briefly discussed. Along with spotlighting Joel and Ethan's work practises, the book looks in detail at the storyboards, cinematography, set and wardrobe design on 'The Big Lebowski'. Of particular interest is the comparison of still frames with their orginal storyboards during a detailed breakdown of 4 Lebowski scenes. Also appreciated is Robertson's practise of actually explaining many of the film terms used is the book, recognising that not all his reader's are Directors!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on March 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was co-written by William Preston Robertson who is someone, if you've studied the end credits of the Coens' early film, who has worked on their films in various capacities. He's often provided voiceovers where needed and even offered a place for them to crash when they developed writer's block while working on the screenplay for Miller's Crossing.
So, he writes this book with an insider's perspective. At every opportunity he makes fun of them (as only a close friend can) and spends the first part of the book tracing their career up to The Big Lebowski. The rest of the book plays out as a quasi-Making Of that is quite an entertaining read. For example, he places their film in the grand tradition of bowling noir, a very rarified subgenre of the film noir. Robertson is quite funny as he pontificates about this subgenre at some length.
If I had one complaint about the book is the amount of detail that is gone into about the storyboarding process which I could have done without. But this is a minor quibble at best.
Robertson's style of writing is very casual and easy to read--it won't take you long to get through this book. If you are a hardcore fan of the Coens, then you will definitely enjoy this book and all the little, inside jokes. It will certainly deepen your appreciation for the film and acts as a great companion-piece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jay S on April 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Every once and while I look for books to re-inspire my need to make films. This is one of those useful books for people interested in the real filmmaking process. This book doesn't have useless interviews about how much fun the actors had working with a director but covers every thought and decision the crew had to make in the production. If you're a Coen Brother's fan, you'll also be interested to gain some insight into how they invent and produce their signiture films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pamela S. Dorris on December 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has a light yet thorough touch in limning out what went into this movie. For anyone interested in film, this is a great opportunity to get your feet wet in how the process works.

The author covers the creative process of the Coen brothers -- no easy job since they don't seem to have a structure to their approach. These guys finish each other's sentences in a kind of mental shorthand; they have strange visual flashes (like severed toes and bowling alleys); they arrive at plot points by stringing together these weird flashes that initially have no congruity; they like certain actors because those individuals "get" the Coen process; they storyboard like crazy to keep the cost of the production down; and while they cannot actually verbalize what they want, they DO know what they DON'T want, or when they've hit on their desired effect.

In addition, the Director of Photography, Roger Deakins, discusses what lenses he used to get what effects and some of the problems that occurred in filming in certain locations. I passed along my copy of this book to my son in film because I thought these "tricks of the trade" would prove interesting and informative to him.

Costuming comes under examination as well, including the practice of scrubbing cloth with rocks to get it to look like well-worn clothes.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable read with nothing rendered dull or pedantic, and if you enjoyed "Lebowski" you'll surely enjoy reading how it all came about.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. Jack Elliot on August 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Big Lebowski is my all-time favorite movie; I bought this book hoping to read lengthy interviews with the cast, see behind-the-scenes photos and stills from the film, etc. Instead, this book deals with the technicalities of the Coen brothers' film making in general, with The Big Lebowski only serving as the most-often referenced case-in-point. So I'd say read this if you're interested in the Coens' film making technique, but if you're interested in The Big Lebowski specifically you won't really find much here.
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