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Ned Rupp: My thoughts on Dr. Strangelove

“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb� is a “black comedy� which satirizes the exaggerated fears of nuclear war that paralyzed America in the 1960’s. I don’t think the movie could have been released at a more ideal time. Less than two years after the Cuban missile crisis caused a wave of panic throughout America “Strangelove� was released. It was for the most part a kind of relief for all of the paranoia that the nuclear war was causing; it was the first time that the situation was presented in a comedic (albeit dark) and not-so serious manner. I think the general population found that it lessened some of their fears of the war because of how non-chalantly the issue was portrayed. On the other hand it was a blow to politicians and the upper echelon of the military because of the way that Kubrick presented those characters in the movie. Jack Ripper, a psychotic United States Air Force General, orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union because of the delusions he has of the Soviet’s plan to impurify the bodily fluids of the American people with fluoridated water (he believed that it was the Soviet’s who caused his impotence). The reason behind his need to bomb the Soviet’s is so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. This is one of the ways that Kubrick slips comedy into the movie. Ripper is also usually filmed at odd, close angles and uses odd facial expressions which add a bit to his supposed insanity. Another character who has odd mannerisms is Air Force General Buck Turgidson. His way of speech, combined with his excessive gum chewing, makes him seen quite mentally unstable as well. His comment about being in superior strategic position and attacking the Soviet’s, thus destroying 90% of their missiles, and only having “10 to 20 million American casualties… tops� is also a funny, but sad line, because I feel like some generals actually look at war in that way. President Merkin Muffley invites the Soviet Ambassador to the United States war room, and gives him strategy on how to shoot down his own American planes which are on their way to bomb his country. What president would do that? I mean really. I could go on about the other characters in the movie, but I think you get the idea. Dr. Strangelove is a brilliant piece of political satire which will probably remain atop that category for quite some time.