STANLEY KUBRICK — PETER SELLERS — GEORGE C. SCOTT — DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB — 1964
This film has become a cultish film because of the subject of course but especially because of the tone that is really entirely conveyed by two actors, Peter Sellers and his three roles and George C. Scott. We could add Slim Pickens in the batch with his phenomenal dive into nuclear annihilation at the end.
The subject is central in our post WW2 world since it has to do with nuclear weapons and war. These weapons have only been used once, in fact twice, by the USA against Japan in 1945. The deterring effect of the possession of such weapons is supposed to keep the world as peaceful as it can be, though we all know it is not exactly true since wars have been going on practically constantly since 1945, for oil, for uranium, for who knows what other resources or tribal heritage from the centuries of slavery imposed onto black Africa, or the centuries of rife between sects in some religions. But they were always limited geographically. Most of these wars, apart from the direct colonial wars of Great Britain (not so many) and France (essentially two in Indochina and in Algeria) were the deeds of the USA: Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, and should I not mention Granada and Panama? The Soviet Union only had one in Afghanistan and they stepped out of it in front of the resistance from the Taliban and the Mujahedeen, armed and financed by the USA and the CIA. These movements gave rise to Al Qaeda and later ISIS.
In 1964 just after the missile crisis in Cuba the world had just gone through a terrible scare and Stanley Kubrick wanted to produce a film that would make the world realize how dangerous these weapons can be and how little we can stop them when they are already in the air. He decided to make it a comedy by using Peter Sellers in three different parts in which his improvising was able to make a real hit on the psyche of an audience. And it is a success and it is still valid.
The argument is that there will always be some crazy guy who will be able to bypass all limitations and firewalls to play a trick on the world, on the USSR at the time and Russia nowadays, or even China for the more reckless, and manage a bomb and today a missile to reach the other side and start the ABSOLUTELY AUTOMATIC responding defense that would become a tremendous back-attack or act of final justified but lethal compensation. As the one who started the scare in this film, and the final holocaust, says so well just before committing suicide “I believe there is another life on the other side!” That is in the drastic situation the most humorous, a very black humor indeed, remark you can utter.
The mad Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove is the most frighteningly hilarious character you can imagine, selling his nuclear knowledge and knowhow to the USA with only one intention: to get to the nuclear holocaust he had been preparing in Germany for Hitler and he was not able to perform or achieve. He is mad, he is deranged, he is physically handicapped, he is erratic and his artificial arm is only remembering his glorious Nazi time and is taking over from time to time to salute his leader, Heil and Heil again.
All that is dealt with humorously but it is dramatic and today in the situation of two wars, in Afghanistan on one side, and in Iraq-Syria on the other hand, plus the Korean situation that is poisoned by the unpredictable erratic attitude of President Trump in front of a young leader in North Korea who is either right to resist American imperialism or wrong to endanger the survival of the whole planet, today we can feel it resonate with strength and power.
Can there be any reasonable tempered, and well-tempered at that, moderate and realistic compromise to find a solution to the problem without having the USA continuing in their unacceptable track of dictating what one man, one president wants, even when this is purely unethical and absurd? No one in the world, and certainly not any god in existence, has the right to dictate to other countries what they have to do and what norms they have to respect and implement: the one size fits all of the Monroe Doctrine has to be once and for all sent back to the prop-store of an out-of-use theater.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
TO DIE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, WHAT A JOY!
Amazon February 11, 2001
Kubrick touches a very sensitive subject in this film, a subject that should remind us of man’s supreme ability at destroying himself and surviving his own destruction. He points out how any nuclear protocol has a hole somewhere or a loophole to go around any kind of security precautions. Nuclear weapons are our unredeemable doom. They can only lead to a catastrophe.
And humanity is such that it will enjoy destroying itself and then mobilize its intelligence to just survive in order to start again. There is no hope what so ever. Kubrick deals with this subject in a very humorous way but every detail is there to show that the patriotic motivation of any man justifies in his mind any possible crime or just folly. Man is a fool and his foolishness can know no end.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Paris Universities II and IX.