Director : Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick’s cold war satire Doctor Strangelove tells the tale of Air Force General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), who under the false belief that the Soviet Union are conspiring to contaminate American citizen’s “precious bodily fluids” with water fluoridation, launches an unauthorised nuclear attack on the communist country, much to the distress of Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellars), America’s president. Muffley with the help of the Pentagon War Room team, attempts to make contact with the bomber planes to call them off, only to discover that a 3 letter code has been put in place to stop people contacting the air crafts, a code possessed only by General Ripper. Muffley tries unsuccessfully to get into contact with Ripper, discovering that he has cut the telephone lines to and from the Air Force Base and is now holed up in his study with his executive officer, Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellars). Mandrake, aware of Ripper’s insane actions, attempts to make him change his mind about the attack and give him the 3-letter code to contact the bomber planes, much to Ripper’s firm refusal. Back in the War-room, President Muffley learns from the idiosyncratic Dr. Strangelove (also Peter Sellars), that a successful strike on the Soviet Union will result in the automatic detonation of the country’s devastating Doomsday Device, sending sprays of deadly radiation up into the air to circulate the world for hundreds of years. The president, at the end of his tether, sends U.S army troops to the Air Force Base, in an attempt to arrest General Ripper and retrieve the contact code, but not everything goes to plan.
Kubrick’s pitch black comedy Dr. Strangelove achieves most of its laughs through its heavily ironic depiction of nuclear war, highlighting the absurdities and faults of the whole situation, rather than glorifying them. Because it’s partly through all of the main character’s insane and careless actions that the audience realises that Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is in essence against the act of war, instead of promoting it, as it seems to do in the beginning. The Chameleon like Peter Sellars is hilarious as Mandrake, Muffley and the idiosyncratic Dr. Strangelove. Sellars was originally expected to play the role of T.J Kong, one of the bomber plane pilots as well, but was unable to due to the already heavy workload. The iconic ending sequence to Dr. Strangelove is a masterpiece in itself, further strengthening the ironic tone of the film, displaying a compilation video of various nuclear explosions set to the tune of Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a smart, witty and satirical view of the Cold War, and is one of Kubrick’s best.