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The White Russians are Coming!

Sudipto Sanyal (Bowling Green State University)

The Big Lebowski is usually considered the Coen brothers’ loving parody of Chandler-esque film noir. This paper problematizes this view by positing the film’s concern with genre and what lies in the space between genres. The concomitant existence of generic elements and their attempted subversion is the central concern of the film, which becomes a sort of retroactive ur text that hovers above the tentative genre and deliberately articulates all the conventions, themes, styles, and inarticulations of noir: it cites, negates, yet revalidates the conventions and world views of noir, thereby questioning the very status of noir as a generic construction. By engaging with and simultaneously resisting the homogenising tendencies of genre, the film becomes both ‘genred’ and genreless. It lends noir the brightness of bowling alleys and the surreality of dream sequences, and, in doing so, becomes perhaps an expression of the nostalgia for noir in the internet age, while conveying at the same time the hopelessness of such yearning.

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ISSN 1753-5794