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

Straddling a deployed nuclear warhead is a glorious way to die…

Once you get past the initial “What’s this all about?” phase, you begin to understand and appreciate what is probably the best comic pieces ever made. Period. This extravagantly titled motion picture – “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” was directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1964. Originally intended to be adapted as a thriller based on the novel Red Alert by Peter George, the project found its way into the political satire genre mainly due to Kubrick’s interpretation.

What started as a drama, ended up in laughter.

The events depicted in Dr. Strangelove are triggered primarily due to the actions of a paranoid Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) – deploying a bomber plane to trigger a nuclear attack on Russia. What follows are the efforts of the top officials in the War Room and the Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) to stop this calamity from tailspinning and turning everyone on earth into nuclear fodder. The film is infused with colourful characters who have their own part to play. Be it Hayden playing the ultra nationalist army man who’d trigger a nuclear holocaust to prevent Soviets  from contaminating the Americans bodily fluids (supposedly) or General Buck Turgidson – over-the-top and jingoistic to a fault played by the hilarious George C. Scott, this movie has many unforgettable performances. Sellers deserves acclaim for his 3 roles – a meek group captain, a wheelchair-strapped Nazi and the stern POTUS. Each role is distinct and he does them all justice.

Another highlight of Dr. Strangelove is in its slick writing. Harness that with the actors performances and a simple line – “Gentlemen, you can’t fight here. This is the war room!” still makes you chuckle to this day. Analysing the Cold War principles of “Missile Gap” and “Mutual-Assured-Destruction”, turning them into effective comic strips by incorporating human mentality is what the director nails down. A great many symbolism and parallels are drawn to the real world which were relevant then and are still relevant now. It’s nearly impossible, finding any flaws here. Probably the outdated effects, maybe?

Strangelove may be just one of the many jewels in Kubrick’s filmography. But as far as satirical comedies (or movies in general) go, it’s the gold standard.

Rating : 4.75/5

2 replies on “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Review”

Agree– it was funny when it came out, it’s funny now. Another film from roughly the same period, less known but extremely funny: The Loved One, based on the Evelyn Waugh novel. If you liked Dr. Strangelove, you’ll enjoy it!

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