Dr. Strangelove (Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb) (1964)
Film review #5
Dir. Stanley Kubrick
A landmark film by 2001: A Space Odyssey producer Stanley Kubrick (Though Strangelove preceded it by five years), a strange mixture of dark comedy, farcical fiction and cold war commentary. Through a number of coincidences, paranoid predictions and false starts, everything builds up to the outbreak of all out nuclear war. The movie keeps you on edge though as to whether the whole situation will end in aversion or disaster.
I must say the film does a good job of switching gears a lot, from the army barracks where General Ripper has lost the plot, to the cockpit of a B-52 bomber, and the Pentagon war room (Modelled after the NATO conference room). The films most poignant message seems to be an anti-cold war one, and how one loose link or poor decision is all it would take to bring about a nuclear holocaust. There is no clear cut hero or villain in the movie, it would seem that everyone is just a victim of circumstance, caught up in a game of strategy (The “Game Theory” model maps itself pretty well to the era of cold-war politics, with everyone always trying to be one step ahead).
As with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick is trying to be as accurate as possible with regards to sets, design, and the script. The beginning of the movie states itself that the responses of the air force is depicted as accurately as possible if this situation were ever to arise. Indeed, every decision and tactical move is followed accurately according to policy or orders, and it’s little things such as mechanical failure or the Russian Premier being drunk that just seem to make the situation spin out of control.
So overall, a very serious political message understates this dark comedy, and the farcical nature of the script shows just how close humanity stood on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Accuracy was a crucial part of getting this message across, and the fact that this whole situation started because someone took communist propaganda way too seriously and thought the “Ruskies” were contaminating water and invading his bodily fluids shows just how dangerous the games of the cold war propaganda could be…
Also, I didn’t realise Peter Sellers was playing three different roles when I was watching. Talented man…