The Cold War Fears of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove

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The Cold War Fears of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick's 1963 political satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is a stinging commentary of the Cold War paranoia of the time. Kubrick addresses a myriad of themes throughout the picture, offering an even darker side to an already bleak situation. The movie is also layered with many levels of subtle motifs that require multiple viewings to fully realize. The director also uses several techniques to give an overall ominous feel to the picture. The movies title character is overplayed though making a few disappointing moments. This is overacting is a little disappointing but does little to diminish the greatness of the film.

The film uses a number of themes showing our less admirable responses to the Cold War period of the 50's and 60's. This time period was one of fear in which nuclear annihilation was ever-present in the minds of Americans and Russians. Kubrick chronicles the time period with its playing up of the arms race gaps by creating "Doomsday Device Gaps" and "Mine Shaft Gaps" to ridicule the two superpowers ever-increasing competition to have the most of everything. This constant drive to ensure that we had just as much destructive capability as the Russians drove both countries into huge amounts of debt. A large part of the national debt can be attributed to military over-spending. This competition to have to most weapons also gave us the capability to destroy the world many times over.

Another theme parodies McCarthyism and the Red Scares that it produced. General Jack D. Ripper produces paranoid rants that sound as if they could have come from the transcripts of the House Un-American Activities Commission....

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... still funny look into our recent history. With important issues that apply not only to the time the movie was made but possibly to our present and our future it offers a warning against war controlled culture and nuclear proliferation. This and the other themes of the movies are still worth considering today. The levels of hidden imagery in the film make it worth watching multiple times to try to find more of the levels and then to try to integrate them into the overall story. Like a painting by Dali you feel that every new thing you uncover has another waiting below it. The camera angles and lighting are tied into the film to turn the whole story into a smooth flowing work that is more pleasing to watch in black and white than most movies are in color. The overacting makes a few scenes in to movie difficult to watch but the rest of the film picks up the slack.
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