#girlsonfilm is a feature in which Prancing Through LIFE’s very own FILM, THEATRE & TELEVISION Editor, Hannah Oliver, recreates famous cinematic scenes in real life and then writes about them. The idea being to discover what happens when the fantasy of film is brought down to the reality of everyday life. That and to give Hannah the opportunity to act like a bit of a noob.
“That’s a name no one would self-apply where I come from,” drawls the mysterious, disembodied tone of The Big Lebowski’s god-like narrator. It appears that The Dude, otherwise known as Jeff Lebowski, can aim neither too high nor too low in life, with a self-applied name such as ‘dude’ and the way in which, hair unkempt, boxers slack and dressing gown the colour and texture of damp, mangy cat, he sniffs tentatively at an opened carton of milk in a supermarket isle and then, blasé if satisfied, pays all 69 cents to the cashier by cheque.
It is one thing to apply oneself to la mode de vie of white Russian cocktails, unemployment and fancy rugs in early nineties Los Angeles as a middle-aged, no-shit-giving and cult Coen bros. character. It is quite another, as a self-respecting student in a small city at office lunch hour, to shuffle, slippers and all, into Sainsbury’s attired in a dressing gown and sunglasses, and loiter about the milk isle indefinitely. I still can’t quite believe this happened. A task, surely, no one would self-apply where anyone comes from, anywhere. Dude. Mortifying. To say the least.
But, after months of casual deliberation, I had come to the conclusion that it had to be done. One can’t spend hours of one’s time recreating great scenes from great films and not do the best film out there. This is, of course, a subjective opinion, but as this particular episode of my Tuesday afternoon made no logical or dignified sense, I refuse to be sensible about this. The Big Lebowski reigns supreme, and so The Dude was realised on Morrison Street, sniffing a 4-pint carton of semi-skimmed Sainsbo’s own, as white collar businesspeeps snaked their lunchtime, meal deal queue around about my slippered feet.
Ugh. Jeff Bridges did it so much better, with the confidence and panache of someone not simply ‘cool’, but epitomizing the slow, chilled existence of what Oxford English Dictionary historiographies as the 1883 New York buzzword for the ‘fastidious man’: truly, we must concede, a ‘dude’. Meanwhile, Melanie, camera in tow, coaxed me into the supermarket, prised my boots and coat from my ashamed, hobo-ed state, and left me to face the scorn of Real Life. The stares were derisive and scoffing, mainly. Bafflement and suspicion (when the security guard started lurking it was time to get a move-on) but in true British fashion, no one uttered a word or, unfortunately, seemed to get the reference. Fair enough. Sacré bleu, I’m no Jeff Bridges.
We paid by 10-pound note as no cheque books could be found, and scuttled off to the aptly-named cocktail bar opposite for a white russian lunch. Better received, the barman kept the offending milk in his fridge while we sat and self-applied some much-needed alcohol. Homage made and paid, painfully.
What have we learnt about film-life this week? I can finish only as I started, in quotation:
“Sometimes there’s a man, and I’m talking about The Dude here. Sometimes there’s a man – well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there, and that’s The Dude.”
I am not the man, or The Dude. Sheer perfection cannot be transposed either time or place. I have grown, from this experience, in exultation of The Big Lebowski because it is too high an art form to ever be diminished into quotidian life. Lol. Nerd-time, over. Time for a white russian and a rug.
Hannah Oliver is the Editor of FILM, THEATRE & TELEVISION at PTL. She studies English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and would like to think this an apt excuse for her tendency to be overly florid, pleonastic and long-winded (yeah, we couldn’t find a more pretentious word for long-winded). However, there are two things to effectively shut her up – coffee and/or chocolate. ’Nuff said.
If you’re interested in getting involved with PTL – drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Images and moral rallying courtesy of the fab Melanie Christie)
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