Dr. Strangelove Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb



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Dr. Strangelove
Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(1964)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Written by Kubrick and Terry Southern



Facts: #1 - As of 2014, the U.S.A maintains 7300 nuclear warheads. Russia maintains 8000. Of those, 3500 are kept “ready to fire” in missile bases and submarines. The rest of the ‘nuclear nations’ have fewer than 1000 warheads combined. [source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute]

#2 – The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated was a 50 megaton (50,000kt) hydrogen bomb detonated by the USSR 1961.10.30 (comparison: Hiroshima’s ‘Little Boy’ was only 15 kilotons.)



#3 – On September 26, 1983, Stanislov Petrov was the duty officer in charge of the Soviet nuclear early-warning system. Computers detected a single nuclear missile approaching Russia. Minutes later, the computers detected four more missiles. Rather than following protocol and recommending a retaliatory strike Petrov decided that the “missiles” must be a false-alarm computer error. It was. The false-detection occurred because of high-altitude clouds and satellite orbits. Petrov, in spite of disobeying orders, averted actions that would have likely begun World War III.

Plot: An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

Settings: There are only three settings in this film. 1) Burpelson Airforce Base 2) The War Room at the Pentagon 3) Aboard a B-52 bomber.

Themes: Dr. Strangelove is a political satire and black comedy (serious issues treated with humour). It examines cold war fears of all-out nuclear conflict and the “M.A.D.” policy. M.A.D. = _______________________________

The film also makes connections between masculinity (there is only a single female in the film), aggression, and sexuality. The “characters” section gives more information.

Characters: In this movie, many of the absurd names of the male military characters (caricatures) have sexual connotations or allegorical references that suggest the connection between war, sexual obsession and the male sex drive. Note that comedic genius Peter Sellers plays three different roles.


Character Name

Sexual Connotation or Reference

Actor

Jack D. Ripper

a notorious English psychopathic killer of prostitutes, or a killer in general

Sterling Hayden

Mandrake

a medicinal plant root or herb, said to encourage fertility, conception or potency - an aphrodisiac

Peter Sellers

Buck Turgidson

a "buck" is a male animal; "turgid" means swollen;

George C. Scott

Merkin Muffley




Peter Sellers

Col. 'Bat' Guano

bat excrement

Keenan Wynn

Soviet premier Dmitri Kissof

"kiss-off", literally means 'start of disaster', or to dump or scorn

Voice only

Ambassador Desadeski

named after the Marquis de Sade - an infamous, perverted sadist in the 18th century (sade-ism)

Peter Bull

Maj. T.J. "King" Kong

signifying a male beast with a primitive, destructive, obsessive lust

Slim Pickens

Dr. Strangelove

perverted love

Peter Sellers




Dr. Strangelove – Viewing Assignments

Sketch an image of something memorable from this movie. (stick figures are OK)


Descriptions – In 6 or more words, describe the following characters:

1. Jack D. Ripper

2. Mandrake

3. Buck Turgidson

4. President Merkin Muffley

5. Major “King”Kong



6. Dr. Strangelove

Quote one phrase or line of dialogue that had an impact on you. Explain why you selected this statement. What meaning does it have?


Title – After watching the film, write a brief paragraph to explain the meaning of the title in your own words.


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