Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott
Directed: Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey, Spartacus, The Shining)
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Dr. Strangelove is considered a classic, top 10 movie among many film reviewers and film connoisseurs. I have seen many clips but never watched the entire movie, until last night. War satires don\’t often sit well with me – as the heavy hand of political opinion permeates the stories rather than well written dialogue and intriguing, developed characters.
Strangelove revolves around the masculine appetite for war and fighting, wrapped up in the subtle corruption of one\’s sanity when given much power. What would happen if a high ranking general decided he wanted war. Needed war to prove his manliness. Our target – Russia. There would be many phone calls and meetings in the war room where the “big board” tells us everything we need to know. Where our own policies to protect us work against us. I have no doubt many see this film as prophecy (and place GW as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper – you see the pun, right Jack The Ripper; Jack D. Ripper; and the Russian Premier Kissov — but I digress).
At a time when the country was gripped with fear over nuclear war and at the height of the “cold war” the film plunges into our worst fears but gives us no comfort. Powerful men, political figureheads are mere children on the playground bullying each other for popularity and ultimately puff their chests and act with reckless abandon at the expense of our lives. In war no one wins. And with a wink Kubrick says ”its only by luck that this hasn’t happened”.
The film is dark yet humorous. Well written and far ahead of its time in satirical discourse. It even had a line which I’ve often said in relation to another movie I love (but didn’t realize the line was actually borrowed/used from Strangelove — “Let’s not pass judgement till all the facts are in” from Grosse Pointe Blank via Strangelove — sorry, another digression). Another great line as General Turgidson and Ambassador de Sadesky fight, President Muffley says “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.” Yet with all the stabbing satire and cleverness I did not find myself embracing the film and its heaps of praise. Surely there is a war that is worthwhile. Surely not all leaders are bumbling lunatics. Surely men are not merely drawn to fight to prove their masculinity. But then again …