Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb is the 4th film in Stanley Kubrick’s directorial career. Originally released in 1964, Dr. Strangelove is a story detailing the unfolding of a nuclear crisis during the heart of the cold war. The film was a box office success initially, and has since received critical acclaim. It is lauded as one of the best comedy films of all time, and is, to this day, Kubrick’s highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes. Let’s dive in to Dr. Strangelove!
The film’s praises could be sung till the cows come home, but rather than reiterate a list of awards and acknowledgments, I’d like to give you a better idea about the film’s plot. The film kicks off with a decision made by U.S. General Jack Ripper to launch a widescale nuclear attack on Russia. He informs his troops that the United States are indeed under Russian attack, and any orders contradicting his are likely fake and intended to confuse and destroy their ranks. When the President of the U.S. hears that an attack has been launched, he quickly calls his other generals to the “War Room” to come up with a plan on how to stop the rogue bombers heading into Russia before it’s too late.
The film is heavily satirical, poking fun at the various tropes surrounding each nationality and governing body featured in the film. It does a great job of capturing the political climate of the time, while still managing to maintain a sense of humor (albeit grim). Also noteworthy, Peter Sellers continues his collaborative partnership with Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove, taking on three separate roles in the film; President of the U.S., A British Officer stuck on base with Gen. Jack Ripper, and the titular character Dr. Strangelove (a science advisor in the U.S. war room). He plays each role incredibly well and it was only on my second viewing that I realized he was all three characters.
Comedy fans owe it to themselves to witness one of the greats of the genre, and the casual viewer is sure to find humor in the ridiculous series of events that unfold throughout the film’s length. I think an easy comparison can be made between Kubrick and Vonnegut in regards to the humor and situations in Dr. Strangelove. So come on in and pick this one up if you haven’t already. Happy watching!
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