Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove Essay

1227 words - 5 pages

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 destruction, and when attached to a character who is supposed to be simply carrying out orders given to him by higher, Kubrick is suggesting that while the American Military was involuntarily forced into the nuclear crisis, it was not without enthusiasm. Another such loaded name is Jack D. Ripper, which is the name of the US Air Force's Strategic Air Command's Commanding Officer. The name is symbolic of an infamous English serial killer. By placing this name with a senior commander in the US Military, Kubrick is attempting to show the bloodlust that he perceived the US Military's higher levels to have during that time towards the USSR. Yet another suggestive name is the name of another General in the US Military. This symbolism is slightly more subtle, because "buck" signifies a male animal, and turgid is a word meaning swollen. This name shows Kubrick's suggestion that the US Military had an inflated sense of self-worth during this era. These names serve to both show the director's opinions of individuals and systems of the time period, but also makes the connection in the viewer's mind from the male obsession with sex to the male obsession with war.

The next vehicle Kubrick uses to convey his thoughts on the matter is...

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