“Dr. Strangelove”, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is a story about a madman in power, based on Peter George’s book “Red Alert”. It tells the story of one mad general of air forces, who arbitrarily uses one of the contingency plans of retaliation (“Plan R”) to bomb the Soviet Union. Without consulting anyone, he turns on the machine of destruction. The director seems to be especially sensitive to the humorous potential of this, seemingly unfunny, story – that’s why he proposes a satire that could be described as an apocalyptic black comedy.
The director uses an insane convention that still – over fifty years after the premiere – seems to be a perfect frame for describing, unmasking, exposing, and deconstructing the mechanisms of actions of little people who are standing in front of the machine that can annihilate the world. This machine can be both – realistic and literal (as in Kubrick’s movie) or metaphorical (in that case “Dr. Strangelove” seems to be a timeless, universal parable about irresponsible people on responsible positions).
Kubrick constructs a satire that is composed of grotesque and caricature gestures and pictures. The movie is deliberately exaggerated – the director puts unidentified militarists and nation’s leaders in shapes of different kinds of paranoids, failures and idiots/fools. Grotesque becomes the only possible tool to deal with the absurd of politics and other important figures, who should never be allowed to speak. Peter Sellers, who plays three roles, seems to be a genius satyr. His insane creation does both – deconstructs the traditional pathos of stories that refers to the times of The Second World War and highlights the absurd of all military conflicts.
What’s important – “Dr. Strangelove” is not only a brilliant satire, but also an excellent action that keeps the audience in suspense till the very end. We don’t want to stop believing that the humanity can be saved, that the world can be a beautiful place again. Kubrick doesn’t forget about our naive desire of experiencing the beauty – what we see at the end is an absolutely stunning vision of end. We hear Vesper Lynn and her “We’ll Meet Again”. We see a beautiful series of nuclear explosions. We need to stop worrying and learn how to love.