Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

The ultimate comedy about nuclear assured mutual mass destruction, Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is a film without parallel - at least, not unless we look at real life a little more closely than most of us would ever want to. Drawing on the inherent absurdities of Cold War paranoia it asks what would happen if an actual madman became part of the system, a man convinced that stopping those evil Commies must be done at any cost. After the paranoid general crosses the line, frantic actions are taken on both sides in a desperate attempt to evade destruction, and personal foibles prove to be at least as important as inbuilt security procedures. Meanwhile, the sinister Dr Strangelove is always on hand to offer advice.

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This might sound bleak, and it is, but it's also a masterpiece of absurdist comedy, with some pretty good slapstick thrown in, too. Its sublime cast deliver perfectly judged comic performances that will have you in stitches even as you wait for the world to end. Peter Sellers is on top form playing three different characters, though it's the eponymous doctor whose arm, with a mind of its own, keeps trying to throw a Nazi salute, who makes the biggest impression.

Meanwhile, Stanley Kubrick demonstrates that he has the same genius when it comes to tight, intimate shoots in crowded rooms that he displays with his sweeping cinematography. Whether it's a fighter plane cruising through the Arctic or a desperate soldier having a fight with a Coca-Cola vending machine, it's beautifully shot and fraught with tension.

A Cold War film might seem outdated in the modern age, but the nuclear threat has yet to go away, and this film's sharp political observations are as relevant now as they ever were. Its playfulness disguises an unusual intelligence; its witty script is a real delight. Not for nothing is it frequently ranked amongst the best films ever made, so check it out and give yourself a treat.

Reviewed on: 07 Mar 2009
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Classic black comedy about frantic politicians trying to avert a nuclear war.
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Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, based on the book by Peter George.

Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed

Year: 1964

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


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