There is nothing on this entire planet, created, used, or felt by man, that is perfect or without fault. Think about your car, your job, your relationships with others, your struggle with patience, your struggle with faith in a higher power or a power in the higher echelons of this nation. Now think about war, about political motivation, about standard military approaches to substandard ethical and moral situations.
If you take a moment to consider the above you can see how precariously balanced our lives are, how a slip-up in one area can cause the rest to come tumbling down like a Jenga tower. In Stanley Kubrick’s scathing 1964 political satire ‘Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’, the idea that our well-being is only as guaranteed as long as the wrong person is kept away from the wrong button has never been so poignant or as relevant half of a century ago, as it is now.
In the film, a psychotic general has given the signal to his air force fleet to rain nuclear bombs down all over Russia in an effort to take out the “russkies” before they purge and manipulate the sanctity of the American people’s “bodily fluids.” While the general and his aide (Peter Sellers) are busy holing themselves up in his military base in preparation of the incoming “commie” attack, the President (also Sellers) calls a meeting in the War Room and tries to warn the Soviet Premier of the “silly mistake.”
Meanwhile, on a U.S. B-52, a flight crew prepares to drop a nuclear payload on a Soviet plant and a missile base further inland. To make matters worse, a member of the President’s cabinet, Dr. Strangelove (Sellers again) confirms the existence of a Doomsday weapon belonging to the Soviets that will kill everything on Earth if the U.S. Air Force is successful in its attack.
If you couldn’t already tell by the number of quotation marks used in the preceding paragraphs, this film is as ridiculous as it is horrifyingly possible. Roger Ebert said it best in the Chicago Sun-Times: “Stanley Kubrick made what is arguably the best political satire of the century, a film that pulled the rug out from under the cold war by arguing that if a ‘nuclear deterrent’ destroys all life on earth, it is hard to say exactly what it has deterred.”
As a black and white film, ‘Dr. Strangelove…’ hits all the right notes in regards to mise-en-scene (the arrangement of objects in the frame at any given time). A Kubrick film is always pretty well planned-out, and this is no exception. The cold reality of what we’re seeing is perfectly projected with the help of such key moments as wide-screen shots of the cold and isolated War Room in which the U.S. President attempts to appeal to the Russian Premier’s jovial drunkenness. The lighting in the air base scenes with the crazed General are just as equally mesmerizing, helping to layer the rest of the film in a palpable air of unsettling tranquility: the planet as we know it is about to be wiped out as certainly as the inevitable death of the hooting and hollering cowboy straddling a nuclear bomb at the end of the film. ‘Dr. Strangelove’ is “death” in slow-motion.
Although the film is first and foremost a critique, it is also very much its own story and an enjoyable experience, even when taken out of context (which, one might argue, is hard to do since ‘Dr. Strangelove’s themes are so tactfully in-your-face). There are certainly moments where you might find yourself getting lost… but this is a DVD reviewing site, and as we all know, watching a film on DVD also comes with the ability to rewind. However, unless you’re nit-picky like this examiner, there’s nothing in terms of detail that goes much deeper than the gist.
The special features of the 40th anniversary edition of ‘Dr. Strangelove…” include a collectible scrapbook with an essay by Roger Ebert and original production stills, two exclusive documentaries (“No Fighting in the War Room Or: Dr. Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat”; “Best Sellers: Peter Sellers Remembered”), and a special interview with Robert McNamara.
‘Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ has been rated PG for thematic elements, some violent content, sexual humor and mild language. For more information on questionable content within this film, click HERE.
This film is available at the following retail stores and online markets:
Target — DVD ; Blu-Ray
Best Buy — DVD ; Blu-Ray
Barnes and Noble — DVD ; Blu-Ray
Walmart — DVD ; Blu-Ray
Amazon — DVD ; Blu-Ray
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