Stanley Kubrick’s Weird Comedy Film Dr Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb stands as one of the all time great films about war because it is so much different from any other film on the subject. It has much more in common with the work of the Marx Brothers than it does with Saving Private Ryan or The Dirty Dozen. The black humor of the film is exactly why it was considered controversial upon release, and how it manages to be so sincere and honest on the subject of nuclear war.
The film finds humor in the fact that nuclear war really is an absurd, logically inconsistent idea. The film targets the absurdity of nuclear war and the foolishness of the politicians who send young men to die. The brave soldiers who go to fight are not discredited, rather, the war machine that has them dying, in some situations for no reason, is made the butt of the joke.
The film is primarily a comedy, and it’s a real comedy. The jokes aren’t just meant to “make you think”, they’re really there to make you laugh, so while the movie definitely makes its point, it’s certainly not the sort of humor that’s “Not funny, but has something to say”. The humor is, in fact, incredibly funny.
Interestingly, when Kubrick dealt with similar material some years later with Full Metal Jacket, the humor wasn’t quite so overt. It would seem that, by the mid eighties, Kubrick had realized that you don’t need to add Marx Brothers style jokes to make war funny, that the absurdity of armed conflict is ridiculous enough with or without any overt humor. Still, Full Metal Jacket stands as an incredibly funny movie, even if it feels much darker in tone (yet ironically, isn’t quite as dark in terms of story content).
The heart of the cast is Peter Sellers, who plays several characters. In today’s Hollywood, one comic actor in multiple roles is usually a sign of a terrible comedy, where they thought that five unfunny characters could be made funny if they were all played by the same guy wearing a variety of fat suits and women’s dresses. Sellers, on the other hand, was just the most capable actor of playing all of these wild characters.
Of course the centerpiece of these performances is Strangelove himself, the wheelchair bound former Nazi physicist suffering from “alien hand syndrome”, wherein he will subconsciously throw out a Nazi salute only to have to pull his hand back down. The link between the power of nuclear arms and sexual dysfunction is made most clear with Strangelove, who seems to experience a real thrill when the bombs start falling.
George C. Scott’s performance as General Buck Turgidson is another highlight. It’s odd to see such a wild performance from Scott, who is typically noted as a gruff master of understatement. Certainly, his trademark is to do with a grizzly whisper what most would do with a shout. Kubrick actually had to trick Scott into going so wild for this role by requesting over the top “practice” takes, and then using them in the actual movie. Slim Pickens as Major Kong was similarly fooled into giving a straight performance by being told that the film was a standard war film and not a comedy.
If you haven’t yet, you need to see this film before you die. It is essentially the only statement that ever needs to be made on the foolishness of nuclear war.
Third, take this method up one more notch by practicing your special selected piece every day for three months. Internet Movie Both promise to include 8 Canadian channels, which are half English and half French. Sebastien Izambard was born in Paris on 7th March,