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Dr. Strangelove and the Cold War: Elizabeth Bassett

Although it was not a box office hit when it first came out, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb has become a classic of high historical value in the world of cinema. Over the decades, this film has allowed Americans the opportunity to view the nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States through a different lens other than the text book. Cinematography was utilized to embellish various aspects of the dark nature of the human mind as well as the blanket we as a society lived under during that time period.
Kubrick once stated on an interview pertaining to his film, “It occurred to me I was approaching the project in the wrong way. The only way to tell the story was as a black comedy, or better, a nightmare comedy...? This statement makes absolute sense from the perspective of a movie-goer of today’s society. With black and white color, the film emulates an eerie, almost fantasized mood. As black, dark scenes in today’s cinema culture often represent horror and nightmares, this was also true in 1964 when the film was produced. Dark scenes signified the nightmare that was currently on the American people of which they were unable to escape or awaken. The black and white nature of the film also made the characters appear ghostlike, as if they were merely figments of one’s imagination. This added even greater fear as it signified the political figures of the time as creepy and unpredictable. Producing the film in black and white may also have added relevancy as black and white films became less and less common over the decades and adding to its historical value.
At the time, it would have been difficult for this film to work as a serious drama about the possibilities of war. Nuclear war was too great a reality at the time and people often go to movies to escape from real life. Producing the film in a satirical manner allowed the American public a chance to lighten the situation. At the same time, however, Kubrick stated that the “things you laugh at the most are really the heart of the paradoxical postures that make nuclear war possible.? The most absurd situations happened to be the very events that sent shivers up the spines of many individuals. By nature, this allowed a chance for the American people to either realize the true enormity of the situation or laugh it away as a strictly political affair of little concern to them.