Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

drstrangelove

Context of the movie : It was just 52 years ago that Stanley Kubrick’s legendary satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb hit theaters — but the world was a very different place. The Cold War was at its height, and America was still recovering from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy just two months earlier. It’s into this charged landscape that Stanley Kubrick launched Dr. Strangelove, a jet-black comedy that gave voice to the nerve-jangling paranoia of the era.

Why is Dr Strangelove still relevant today?

  1. There are still a lot of nuclear weapons in the world
    In the decades since Dr. Strangelove’s release, there have been significant reductions in warheads across the globe. But more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the world’s combined nuclear arsenal remains disturbingly high. It’s estimated that some 17,000 warheads are currently stockpiled around the globe, of which around 1,800 remain on high alert, ready to be fired at a moment’s notice. In addition, the government continues to plow billions of dollars into projects such as the so-called « Star Wars » missile defense system (an idea first dreamt up by the Reagan administration in 1983).

These days, of course, Russia isn’t the most troubling atomic aggressor; there are emerging nuclear powers, like Iran and North Korea. But while the players have changed and public paranoia has diminished, the Doomsday Clock remains rooted at five to midnight — a reminder that mankind is arguably as close to mutually assured destruction as we were at the time of Dr. Strangelove’s release.

  1. The technology of war
    From doomsday machines to a Jumbotron-filled war room with a strict « No Fighting » policy, technology is at the heart of Dr. Strangelove’s dark narrative — particularly when it malfunctions. One of the film’s central themes is the deeply flawed technology of war, which puts real power in the hands of fallible machines, not to mention armchair generals holed up in windowless bunkers thousands of miles away from the front lines. Fast forward 50 years, to an age where drones have become commonplace, and you don’t have to look hard for a parallel.
  2. Human fallibility
    « I admit the human element seems to have failed us here, » says Dr. Strangelove’s General Turgidson, played by the brilliant George C. Scott. It’s a sentiment that echoes throughout Dr. Strangelove. The mental illnesses, testosterone-fuelled saber-rattling, and downright stupidity of a few high-level players can set humankind on a course to nuclear obliteration. Half a century later, the human race is no less fallible — and whatever your politics, you need only to turn on the news for to get a stark reminder of mankind’s continued propensity for self-destruction.
  3. A culture of fear
    No, the United States is no longer immersed in a Cold War with « Rooskies » or « Commies » who are intent on « impurifying our bodily fluids. » But the culture of fear that drives in Dr. Strangelove is still an ever-present part of our lives. From the ongoing « War on Terror » to chronic tensions with North Korea, unseen enemies continue to drive public paranoia in a way that makes Dr. Strangelove darkly relatable. In the years since its release, collective fears about ideological enemies have continued to fuel policy-making, from the invasion of Iraq to the expansion of the surveillance state.
  4. Government distrust
    Dr. Strangelove goes out of its way to undermine each and every authority figure that it puts on screen: Psychologically unstable generals, drunken world leaders, and armchair commanders whose opinions are directly informed by agenda-driven think tanks. Kubrick’s film shows us a world where there’s an entirely justified suspicion of the people whose fingers are on the triggers. If that sounds familiar, that’s probably because it hasn’t changed much: If recent reports of record levels of government mistrust are to be believed, things are worse than ever.

POWER in Dr Strangelove

First, we’ve got the deadly power of nuclear bombs and the Doomsday Machine. We’ve also got political power, which in this story isn’t very effective. There’s Strangelove’s demented scientific power. You’ll notice that women are totally absent from this discussion of power. That’s because they didn’t have any, except the power to drive men crazy with lust. The idea of a woman in the War Room or the White House would have been completely off the radar back then.

Do you think women would be less likely to let the nukes fly?

Questions about Power

  1. Who would you say is the most powerful character in the film? The most powerless?
  2. How is power shown as a force of destruction in the film? Is it ever shown as a positive force?
  3. What does the film say about President Muffley’s power?

Chew on This

Take a peek at these thesis statements. Agree or disagree?

Technology is the only « character » in the film with any real power.

Dr. Strangelove depicts powerful men as clowns to highlight the fact that they’re ultimately weak on multiple levels.

More questions about power:

Is Power Good Or Bad?
There are so many ways to use power that it is quite easy for it to take over and actually do more harm than good in society.

Sources:

http://www.shmoop.com/dr-strangelove/themes.html

http://theweek.com/articles/452253/why-dr-strangelove-more-depressingly-relevant-than-ever

Ironically as I was writing this article I came across this:

cover-de-niro-trump

“I don’t see a lot of difference between Kubrick’s totally insane General Jack D. Ripper and our totally insane Donald J. Trump. Do you?” actor says Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVER-De-Niro-Trump.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I don’t see a lot of difference between Kubrick’s totally insane General Jack D. Ripper and our totally insane Donald J. Trump. Do you?” actor says Sunday

 

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