Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb ★★★★★

This is one filthy movie. I know I'm far from the first person to notice this, but, boy, is it ever obvious today.

An opening scene of planes copulating. Then we meet General Erection post-coitus. Ripper explains he is afraid of his fluids being taken from his body...and, we later learn, new ones entering it. Then we go to a War Room of sexual repression: An emasculated president twice named after references to female genitalia; a general still thinking of the woman he left behind; a still unintroduced Strangelove in a nearly useless body (even lacking control over his, ahem, right hand); the Soviet ambassador lurks as a Sadeskic, er, sadistic voyeur of it all. Then we see the flight crew's survival kits, seemingly packaged mainly to help them get laid. Then Muffley impotently propositions Premier Kissov, only to be kissed off in the form of the now revealed doomsday device. Mandrake, despite his apparent worrying, manages to stand up to Ripper and Guano and survive the invasion on Burpelson - a thick, virile root, indeed. Speaking of thick, virile roots, Kong's missile makes contact with Russian soil, and the film's climax is achieved.

Strange love, indeed. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

These aren't highbrow sexual themes. They are very pubescent, as juvenile as the effects work. In 1964, studios were more than capable of pulling off uncannily realistic war footage from models and backdrops, but the footage here clearly resembles cheap models and rear projection, as if we're seeing nothing more than (dirty-minded) boys playing with toys. The uniforms of the soldiers at Burpelson are as undetailed as plastic army men. The famous sets, while not cheap, are simple. Even the famous War Room, in the right light, is stylized enough to double as a playset. Only a mind childish enough to enjoy playing with all of this could dream up the military and public policies at play in this film and, sadly, in our corresponding reality.

So we, the audience, the citizenry, are helplessly forced to take all of this and these dirty, puerile men seriously. Flying scenes notwithstanding, Kubrick draws from his days as a Look Magazine photographer here - in fact, though all of Kubrick's work is known for exploiting his exceptional cinematographic eye, this film may come closest to replicating his still photography career. He uses this skill to make a good deal of this movie look as stark and foreboding as an actual journalistic document of war, contrasting uncomfortably with the absurdism and satirical undertones. But what may have felt like oil and water to some mainstream audiences back then couldn't be more perfect today.

But don't forget, this is a very filthy movie.

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