Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove

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Review of Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Stanley Kubrick is infamous for his witty films that satire governmental and societal actions though history. In this film, Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Kubrick is once again directing a film that is a biting, sardonic comedy that pokes fun at the nuclear fears of the 1950s. The screenplay for the movie was written by Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern, and was based on the novel Red Alert written by Peter George. In this film, which is classified as a black comedy/fantasy, technology runs amok and takes over society and mankind. The irony of the situation, however, became apparent when shortly after the movie was produced, the nuclear fears became an actual world scenario among events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Bay of Pigs, and the assassination of President Kennedy. It was this last event that actually delayed the release of the movie from 1963 to 1964. In this film, Kubrick attempts to give his opinion about the situation the world was in through his mocking of certain societal values, his purposeful distortion of history, and his manipulation of the viewer's sentiments.

Throughout the film, Kubrick displays, exaggerates, and mocks certain values of society of his time. The most noticeable case of this is through the selection of names for his characters. These characters are all male, military characters whose names carry some sort of sexual innuendo or connotation with them. One such name is "King" Kong, who is a Major in command of a B-52 bomber, which is one of three main settings for the action of the movie. This name suggests a beast with a primitive desire for destruct...

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...vernment that led them into such a crisis. In stating that this movie is a valuable piece of our cultural history, it is not to say that this film should be taken as a historical piece only. There is a danger in relying on material culture for historical knowledge. This danger exists in the fact that during the course of years, creative intentions become lost, and only the product remains. To rely on this film for historical knowledge, rather than cultural information, would be gravely wrong. This is because this film was not made to be historically informative, and centuries from now, society may not know that Kubrick's suggestive names, distortion of actual history, and cultural bias were simply vehicles used to convey an opinion. So these same vehicles that make this film effective as a societal criticism make it inaccurate as a source for historical knowledge.
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