The Big Lebowski is a 1998 film about an amiable unemployed slacker, The Dude, and his close friends, all fond of their nights at the local bowling alley, who are drawn into a Chandleresque plot involving the missing younger wife of a millionaire namesake. The film is comedy homage to the film noir set in the early ‘90s but instead of a wise-cracking detective, the protagonist was a bumbling burnout stoner who ventured out of the house in his bathrobe.

It has become a cult classic movie and a staple of the midnight movie circuit. It has its own annual conventions for fans called Lebowski Fest and The Dude Abides. It is a critically beloved movie and has a classic soundtrack of classic rock staples.


Headed by Uli Kunkel aka “Karl Hungus,” the group consists of Dieter and Franz. They devise a plan to defraud Jeffery Lebowski of his money when Bunny Lebowski decided to leave town. They pretend to kidnap Bunny and write a ransom note to Jeffery Lebowski for one million dollars and “no funny schtuff”.

The nihilists are the true antithesis for The Dude, they are his competition and also represent an extreme version of a potential path for him. The Dude’s laziness is ever at risk of falling into a passive nihilism whose ideological content is nearly identical to the film’s active nihilists.

The German nihilists are stereotypes, as with every other character in The Big Lebowski. They lack any real presence as criminals but place all of their weight behind their ideological attachment to inspire fear. After all, what is so intimidating about a pet marmot?

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Swedish actor Peter Stormare portraits Uli Kunkel whos is a member of a Kraftwerk-esque band called Autobahn. The character also appeared in adult films as Karl Hungus. Perhaps least recognizable – but no less funny – of the three Nihilists is Franz played by Torsten Voges who lent an air of authenticity to the villainous Kraftwerk-esque band, as he actually is a German actor. Rounding out the trio of Nihilists is the rocker, Flea (born Michael Peter Balzary), who is probably best known as the virtuosic bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The nihilists end up being among the main antagonists of the movie since they’re the ones who indirectly kill Donny in the parking lot after the Bunny plot is all wrapped up.

The Big Lebowski was written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler. It stars Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, and John Turturro. Philip Seymour Hoffman also appears in a supporting role. The Coen brothers are known for many distinctive stylistic trademarks including genre hybridity, films like No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and Inside Llewyn Davis.

Some movie trivia is that the music defines each character in the film. For example, “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” by Bob Nolan was chosen for the Stranger at the time the Coens wrote the screenplay, as was “Lujon” by Henry Mancini for Jackie Treehorn. “The German nihilists are accompanied by techno-pop and Jeff Bridges by Creedence.


The German Nihilists in The Big Lebowski (1998)




The Nihilists




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