March 17, 2006

Dr Strangelove

Simply stated, Dr. Strangelove is a black and white, sarcastic comedy about a commander of a U.S. Air Force Base, who diverts his B-52 bombers from airborne alert to an attack on the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, without the consent of the President. This threatens to set off a doomsday device, which would create a radioactive cloud over the earth, lasting for 93 years, and which obviously endangers all life forms on the surface of earth.
It didn’t sound funny to me till I actually got down to see the movie. The characters were flawless, and thier logic irrefutable, and the ironies galore. The best, was when the President says, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”. Another one was when the Lt. on the flight says, “All the radio gear is out, including the CRM-114. I think the auto-destruct mechanism got hit and blew itself up.”
Another one was, that the Americans realize what a messup it had been, and try to inform the Russian premier about it, who is ironically drunk. It is a little later in the movie that the Americans realize that the Russians have deployed a doomsday device to counter any nuclear attack on them from the Americans. The speciality of the doomsday device is that it triggers automatically if Russia is attacked, and there is no way to manually override it. So if America attacks, there would be Mutually Assured Destruction of both sides. The idea of the doomsday device might sound impossible, but is definitely logical. Dr. Strangelove, a Nazi engineer, explains to the members of the war room, the finer details of the doomsday device, and also that the aim to create such a device is to create a fear in the mind of the enemy against attacking, but strangely as you’d expect, the Russians keep it secret. Why? They were going to have a press release on Monday.
There are three amazing performances by Peter Geller. I’ve heard that there might have been a fourth too, as the captain of the flight, but he had problems learning the cowboy accent.
The movie is based on a book called Red Alert, by Peter George, and officer in the air force himself, who supposedly wrote the book in three weeks, and who commited suicide a few years after the movie was realeased, though I am not sure the two were linked.
Well, I’d end this post with another amazing example of the finesse of the movie. Ambassador De Sadeski of Russia, explains why the Soviets built the doomsday device, “There are those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we’d been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap”. To which General Buck Turgidson says: “Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines”. Having one doomsday device was illogical, but having two is redundant, which I suppose was Kubrick’s point about the stupidity of the Arms Race I guess.

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