Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Movie #346: Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a classic satire/black comedy directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Peter Sellers, Slim Pickens, George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, Sterling Hayden, and Peter Bull.

Mid Cold War, and nukes are on everyone's mind. General Jack D. Ripper (Hayden) of the Air Force goes nuts and, trying to protect his "precious bodily fluids", initiates an attack plan designed to be unstoppable once in motion. His RAF assistant, Mandrake (Sellers) tries to talk him down, while the President (also Sellers) deals with the Russian Premier by way of his ambassador (Bull), and takes advice from his German ex-Nazi lead scientist (also Sellers). Meanwhile, General Turgidson (Scott) is mostly OK with nuking the Russians, because hey, if we're gonna do it anyway...

The planes do wind up getting called back...except one. Under the command of Major "King" Kong (Pickens), the bomber is damaged and can't received the stand down order, and doesn't have enough fuel to hit its primary target, so rather than doing the smart thing and heading for safety they just pick another one. This, in turn, activates the Russian Doomsday Device, destroying all life on Earth, as the President and Dr. Strangelove make arrangements to relocate people to mineshafts, and "We'll Meet Again" plays over the closing credits.

Dr. Strangelove has been analyzed to hell and back, so I'm not really sure what I can add to the proceedings, except to say that, as Fallout points out, war never changes. Even in the face of Armageddon, Turgidson is insisting that they have to outpace the Russians. The Russian Ambassador is taking pictures of American "secrets." And riding a nuclear bomb is somehow the ultimate expression of glory. And it's all because we were so paranoid about not being able to kill our enemies should the need arise that we wound up killing everyone because one dude went off his head.

You could draw all kinds of parallels to things going on now, but I think the takeaway is that when we see other people as these faceless monsters who just want to destroy us "because they're the enemy!", then we become those faceless monsters.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium, which is higher than I'd have thought

Next up: Ant-Man