Dr. Strangelove, 1964

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the movie, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, one of the funniest scenes in the movie occurs during a meeting in which Merkin Muffley (who is the President of the United States) and Dmitri (who is the leader of Russia) have a discussion over the phone. What makes this scene stand out is that the leaders of the two different countries take part in an incredibly unprofessional and hysterical conversation. Dr. Strangelove is a satire in regards to a serious increasing tension between world powers which, of course, is no laughing matter. Incredibly, however, the director of the film, Stanley Kubrick, displayed the war in a comedic fashion. For example, the audience was able to watch the two leaders argue over who was more sorry for the incident that occurred. In addition, Dmitri was drunk and playing music in the background.

One reason why this film is one of the best ever made and is essentially a theme of the movie is because of its ability to make an extremely horrifying matter (the Cold War) humorous. There were many characters in the movie that lightened the mood of war such as General Buck Turgidson played by George C. Scott. He had a variety of funny lines in the movie such as when he told the president, “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops.” General Buck’s idea of the value of a human life as well as the facial expressions he uses when he says this makes this one of the most memorable quotes of all time. Another very funny character in the film is General Jack D. Ripper. For instance, perhaps his funniest moment in the movie was when he gave his troops three rules to follow which included him saying, “anyone or anything that approaches within 200 yards of the perimeter is to be fired upon.” It is important to remember that the Cold War was going on when this movie was released and to make a film that relieves some of the pressure of war through the use of comedy was vitally important.

 General Buck Turgidson

 General Jack D. Ripper

Another theme that Kubrick achieves in this movie is that he examined the psyche of a typical male at war, especially in regards to sex. In war, the men that go into battle are often away from their girlfriends or wives for an extended period of time. As a result, sex is frequently on the minds of the soldiers. This was shown in this film on a number of occasions. Although it was just a joke in the film, the fact that one of the officers in the beginning of the movie was looking at a Playboy magazine depicted what soldiers actually think about when they are out at war. Later on in the film, General Buck Turgidson told the secretary from the beginning of the movie “of course [our relationship] is not physical, I deeply respect you as a human being.” The funny part about this quote is that it is completely untrue. He is simply looking for a physical relationship in order to satisfy his needs as a man. In addition, General Ripper mentioned time and time again about “precious bodily fluids” and told Group Captain Lionel Mandrake his theory came about when he was making physical love.

 Officer looking at Playboy

 General Buck Turgidson


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