Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Trailer Watcher: The Big Lebowski

Sometimes a trailer perfectly sells a movie... Smokin' Aces comes to mind in this regard. And sometimes, in retrospect, you see what might have been the problem.

Since this month is the 10th Anniversary of the theatrical release of The Big Lebowski, I decided to look for some fun mashups of the movie on Youtube, and I happened to see one of the early trailers for the film, and something immediately struck me. There is no dialogue at all.

What turned the movie into a cult classic wasn't the meandering story, or the imagery... it was the dialogue, and it is an element that is sadly missing from the trailer. Granted, given the sheer amount of profanity in The Big Lebowski, most of the best lines likely couldn't be used in a green band trailer, which sort of tied the editors' hands. Though, when you think about it, The Stranger did a pretty good job of introducing Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski in the opening narration of the movie, and that probably would have made an excellent template for a trailer as well. I mean, Sam Elliott's drawl eases you into the story really. It is a frame narrative that sells the movie.

As someone who is quite familiar with the movie, the trailer makes me smile because I remember all those moments and I hear the accompanying dialogue, and it is rather well put together on a technical level, so I can't complain about that aspect really. And it is sort of geared to internet viewing as it rewards repeated watching. However, in early 1998, not too many people had the luxury of being able to view a trailer repeatedly online with any decent quality, so I guess unless you saw an inordinate amount of movies during the winter of 1997, it wouldn't work on that level.

Of course, if the movie had been a hit based on a different trailer, would it have developed the reputation and loving fanbase it now currently enjoys? I don't think it would, because people had the pleasure of discovering the movie on their own and it became a part of their lives personally. It became a classic one individual at a time and became a movement when all those people discovered they weren't alone, and if it had been a massive hit, it wouldn't have been special like it is now.

So in the long run, perhaps that was indeed the best trailer possible for the movie.


Becca said...

That trailer sold me on the movie too! I still think it's one of the best movie trailers ever. Damn perfect!

Becca said...

I mean The Big Lebowski...guess I should have been more specific :)

Megan said...

Gotta love the Dude.

MC said...

Becca: Yeah, I think that needed the clarification.

Megan: He certainly abides.