Thursday, February 5, 2009

DR. STRANGELOVE or: HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE BOMB (Stanley Kubrick, 1964, UK)

“We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when
But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through, just the way you used to do
Till the blue skies chase the dark clouds far away”
Vera Lynn- We’ll Meet Again.


General Jack D. Ripper purifies his precious bodily fluids, his phallic machismo rejuvenated by the mushroom cloud of authority and total annihilation of sanity. Stanley Kubrick’s political and military satire flies dangerously close to reality, its ironic and sarcastic morality prescient in the Orwellian doublethink of our recent administration. He attacks with absurd humor contrasted with apocalyptic repercussions, each character reflecting a dark archetype imbued with a corrupting power, the president representing the impotent fear ignorant of its own blackwhite laws. Sterling Hayden as the potent conductor of this final act is a madman who commits his bomber squadron to sneak attack the Soviet Union; only he knows the three letter command prefix to counteract this order. Kubrick films him from extreme low-angle, godlike and in total control of his insanity, speaking delusions earned egregia cum laude of McCarthyism. Peter Sellers in three disparate roles is exceptional: as Capt. Mandrake, a British officer who nervously attempts to crack the code: as soft spoken President Merkin Muffley who cajoles the drunken Soviet premier: and the intense Ubermensch Dr. Strangelove who suggests a retreat to the deepest mineshafts, a ten-to-one female to male ratio acceptable for human survival. George C. Scott as gum-chewing Air Force General Bucky Turgidson’s elastic performance is patriotic slapstick, his wingspan and shit-eating-grin belie his commanding voice and murderous intent. Slim Pickens as Commander Kong is fueled by good ‘ole American ingenuity; he is able to fly that B52 so low he can fry chickens in the barnyard! Kong’s ecstatic yee-haw rodeo ride to oblivion is an iconic cinematic vision. The Doomsday Device activated, the world ends amid nuclear holocaust with ironic use of Vera Lynn’s heavenly song We’ll Meet Again, the dark radioactive clouds chasing the blue skies far away. (A+)

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