100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Dr. Strangelove”

It was 1964 and the Cold War was in full swing. Communism was on the march across much of Europe and the United States was attempting to halt that spread by engaging Communist forces in the Vietnam War. It was a tense and violent time in U.S. history. At home people became familiar with phrases like “mutually assured destruction” and school kids practiced ducking under their desks should the U.S.S.R. decide to drop the big one on the play ground. Hollywood was not immune from engaging these issues and who better to take them on than the talented and oft controversial filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” is a black comedy that was released in 1964 and has lived on as one of the best loved and most respected examples of a satirical film as well as a potent social commentary. Source

Should this film be considered a classic? Most definitely. Here’s the fact, if I were able to go back in time and sit down and chat with Kubrick we would likely have very different ways of looking at the world. That obviously leads to his films making assertions that I disagree with. Still, the genius of “Dr. Strangelove” is undeniable. From Peter Sellers’ portrayal of three different characters (including the darkly hilarious Strangelove) to George C. Scott’s humorous and over the top portrayal of General Buck Turgidson, the acting is absolutely stellar. The plot of the movie is absurd, but not so absurd as to stop you from thinking about the point it is trying to make. It is easy to imagine audiences watching this film and chuckling at the absurdity of all of it, but also recognizing that within the absurdity are kernels of truth and that is why this film continues to be considered a classic and is certainly worthy of that title.

Would I own this film? Yes. This is a film that I will definitely revisit. Occasionally Kubrick’s portrayal of the military gets on my nerves (yes, I know it’s a satirical comedy) but I can tolerate it because in this film it offers a valuable opinion about some of the policies in place during that time period. This is one of those films that as I watched I tried to view it like I was watching it in 1964. I think when you watch it like that, it makes the film even more humorous and poignant because the entire story is so firmly rooted in the context of the early 60s. Will this film continue to be revered as the Cold War slowly fades into history? I think so. The production of the film and delivery of the actors is top notch and the themes of the film, no matter your politics, are enjoyable to examine because Kubrick wrapped them up in a timeless package so well.


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