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How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

Motion picture Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb (1964) by Stanley Kubrick develops a topic of US reaction of a sneak attack from the Soviet side. While analyzing the concepts implied in the movie one should keep in mind that it is a comedy aimed at emphasizing the ridiculous situation created at the times of Cold War. At the same time, two decades after the end of World War II the society still lived in fear of a nuclear conflict. Creators of Dr. Strangelove tried to address a number of serious topics in their film. Their detailed description deserves a thorough consideration.

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The movie starts with the announcer’s ominous insights into the military plans of the Soviet Union with the background of B-52 strategic bombers. Then the watcher observes how through a chain of officers a top secret command to attack reaches the executors. It creates a great commotion and a wave of disbelief, for the officers and officials refuse to realize that it is not a training alert or somebody’s joke. The Pentagon with its idleness is severely mocked in this part of the movie. Decision to attack was not made by the President, but by one of the Generals, which rouses indignation of the former. What everyone is afraid of is that the so called doomsday machine will be automatically switched on when attacked, which will result in atomic apocalypse. Hilarious scenes in the War Room take turns with shooting episodes. The brigadier general then commits suicide without giving the recall code. It is reconstructed by a group captain based on abbreviation of insane ideas of the general, yet one jet does not get it and continues the mission. Air force major ends up literally riding a missile to the target. A scientist with Nazi-like manners named Dr. Strangelove present at the meeting in the War Room offers a plan of saving several thousand people and then reproducing the human population with their help. After a brief discussion of it the movie ends with a sequence of bomb explosions.

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Being an enjoyable mockery, Dr. Strangelove stays serious enough for the watcher to read between the lines. Among the others, the question of identity is being raised. In this case there are reasons to speak about national and ideological identity. The filmmakers are witty in emphasizing that with all the seeming differences Americans and Russians are pretty much the same, which is proved by the irresponsible and outrageous behavior of the military heads of the states. What concerns other attributions, it should be said that even race distinctions are erased in critical situations. The film exemplifies it by the actual conditions on a jet plane on a mission where all the soldiers are equal in front of the possible death, as well as by only intentional plans of saving the humanity where segregation is out of the question. In such a way, all the caustic remarks on communists (as the most vivid feature of the Soviet residents) and their way of life made by American officers depicted in the film are only inserted in order to make the watcher laugh and understand the absurdity of the situation. Everyone, despite of affiliation to imperialists or communists, appears to be equal in the issue of atomic apocalypse.

Such global political problems as hegemony are also indirectly addressed in the movie. This concept was quite popular at the times of the Cold War with all the consistent anti-propaganda of the enemy regime. Showing no right or wrong side, Dr. Strangelove mainly carries the message of the military hegemony. From all the spheres of life, it appears to be possible to gain control of most of the world only by possessing more advanced weapon. Without a doubt, strategic aspect of military hegemony is also depicted as essential, though all the negotiations on the highest international level are presented in the movie as a kind of a parody of peace talks. In the end, even the seeming predominance of the Soviet Union (in terms of possessing the doomsday machine) breeds only unexplainable fear, for it does not matter who prevails when the whole humanity is in danger.

Dr. Strangelove, a recruiter from Germany of the Hitler epoch and still bearing obvious traces of the previous regime he served to so loyally (despite of changing the surname to the one more usual to the American ear), is a rather curious figure within the film. This title-giving character is introduced only in the middle of the film and brings special coloring to it. His knowledge and scientific experience is respected enough for him to be included as a member of the meeting in Pentagon. His unusual behavior fills the debates in the American War Room with a sense of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, he is clearly an important participant of the situation from a geopolitical point of view, being addressed to as a specialist. Dr. Strangelove is well-informed and knows that the USA has mineshafts deep enough to host the survivals of the atomic incident. Despite of his quite physical reminiscences of Fuehrer, it is admitted that he actually has a point. Doctor’s offer leads to a serious geopolitical and ethical dilemma of who should be enlisted as survivals, and the scientist himself, of course, favors the military men, the flower of nation.

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb is a witty parody on international relations. Raising the issues of identity and hegemony, filmmakers convey the message that it is an atomic war that can become an equalizing factor for all nations.

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