Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

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Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb presents a satire of the Cold War and nuclear warfare. The film stars comedian Peter Sellers in three different roles, including the president, a Royal Air Force officer, and the title character of Dr. Strangelove—a character who does not play a major role in the action until the final scene of the film. The film itself was adapted by Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern from George’s thriller novel Red Alert and was originally intended to be a drama, but was made into a satirical black comedy in the writing process (Webster 33). In the final scene, the leaders of the American government are gathered in the War Room awaiting nuclear fallout from the Soviet’s “Doomsday Machine,” since they had failed to completely prevent a nuclear strike called in by a paranoid general. The “Doomsday Machine” is a fictional deterrent that will irradiate the entire world and cause all human and animal life to go extinct for one hundred years if a nuclear bomb is detonated (Kagan 123). This analysis will focus on two persuasive speeches that are given by the title character, Dr. Strangelove—an enigmatic German scientist with an alien hand—and General Turgidson—a strong anti-Communist, American general with a strong distrust of the Soviet ambassador. In the first argument, Dr. Strangelove proposes to the President the idea of utilizing mine shafts to ensure the survival of the human race, supporting his claim with scientific reasoning and appealing to the government men’s sexual desires. In the second argument, General Turgidson strategically argues to avoid the “mine shaft gap,” in which the Soviets may use the destruction of the world as op... ... middle of paper ... ...ver, he had established himself as a major director with his earlier films. This is another element of the kairos of this film—since a modern audience will relate this with Kubrick’s later, more successful films. In conclusion, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb uses Dr. Strangelove’s, General Turgidson’s, and Stanley Kubrick’s arguments to make a point about the absurdity of the Cold War. Through the use of the Aristotelian appeals of logos, pathos, and ethos, the two characters and the director support their arguments. The kairos of the age is very important to the film as well, since Kubrick was not a famous director at the time, the Cold War was a very serious issue, and nuclear annihilation was a believed to be a real threat: all important factors to consider when looking at this film in this day and age.

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