Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
As the adaptation process evolved, and Kubrick speculated about the many ways that this story of a crazed influential General ending the world could play out, the element of aggressive satire was introduced, only without any overt spoof elements to detract from the harsh reality of Cold War paranoia. In such, the sets, shot composition, props and structural elements of the film, right down to plot progression, were played straight, while phallic imagery, bizarre names and candidly framed hyper-realized situations exacerbated the insanity of it all with a sly comic eye.
From the opening scene, where a mid-air plane refueling closely resembles the act of coitus, to the exaggerated protrusion of U.S. Brigadier General Jack Ripper's (Sterling Hayden) cigar phallus in the opening scene, the exaggerated element of male dick-measuring and repressed sexual frustration frequents the visual symbology. As Ripper puffs and sucks on his cigar, he orders Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers, in one of three roles) to put the base on alert, thus ordering planes near Russia to attack, enabling a contingency plan that blocks out external communications, leaving everyone on the ground unable to stop the impending nuclear war.
With a woman in high heels and underwear relaying apocalyptic information to General Turgidson (George C. Scott) while he goes to the bathroom, and the president, Merkin Muffley (Sellers), having casual touchy-feely conversation with the Soviet premier when advising him of the accidental attack, the satirical comic element shifts into high gear.
The story vacillates between bumbling War Room conversation with American officials and the carefree manner in which those in the sky handle dropping nuclear bombs on Russia—reading porn magazines and smoking cigars—showing an abundance of immaturity and disorganization amidst men of global significance discussing the logistics of a doomsday device intended to destroy humanity. Amidst these storylines that occasionally channel Nazi ideology, General Ripper rambles on to Mandrake about the Russians using a fluoridation process to pollute American waters and ultimately their male "essence."
The hilarity of it all stems not only from the discomforting political realities of the time, wherein such a scenario wasn't particularly far-fetched, but also from the counter-intuitive critique of male posturing. Nuclear arms are paralleled with phallic imagery and discussions of precious bodily fluids suggest sexual frustration—or blue balls—as impetus behind male destruction.
Amusingly, the implication here is that frequent ejaculation could possibly save the world.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the Countdown to Armageddon screening series at 6:30pm on December 14th, 2012. (Columbia)
ReviewsOct 29, 2014
The BabadookJennifer Kent
At every Toronto After Dark Fest, there's at least one film that rides a wave of palpable buzz and has attendees clamouring to see it. Last ...
ReviewsOct 24, 2014
Films about time travel are some of the trickiest ones to create as far as sci-fi subgenres are concerned — it's not so much about the...
ReviewsOct 23, 2014
Why Horror?Nicolas Kleiman, Rob Lindsay
As a nerd, it's always pretty weird seeing your favourite genre rise to the surface of mainstream culture, and horror is no exception. In hi...
ReviewsOct 22, 2014
Time LapseBradley King
You don't fuck with time. That's the philosophical takeaway - an idea espoused time and time again by one of the lead characters - in Bradle...
ReviewsOct 21, 2014
John Geddes' Hellmouth is a kaleidoscopic vision of hell that tantalizes with some bewitching visuals but ultimately comes off more as funho...
ReviewsOct 20, 2014
Kumiko, The Treasure HunterDavid Zellner
In 2001, a woman named Takako Konishi was found dead in a remote area of Minnesota. Botched eyewitness information swirled into an urban leg...
ReviewsOct 19, 2014
Man, I really wanted to like Zombeavers. Based on the trailer, which currently boasts over three million hits on YouTube, the film seemed li...
ReviewsOct 18, 2014
ABCs of Death 2Various Directors
When producers Ant Timpson and Tim League announced that they'd be producing a followup to 2012's highly ambitious anthology film The ABCs o...