When it comes to political satires, you can hardly beat this. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a hilarious yet tense drama that pokes fun at its subject matter and isn’t shy about delving deep into its underlying seriousness. What happens if the end of the world can be started by a push of a button?
Peter Sellers puts on a masterclass of acting by dwelling into three characters; Captain Mandrake, President Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove, the latter being his finest. The film explores the predicament facing the U.S President tasked with stopping a madman from unleashing a thermal nuclear war with Russia. The trick here is that the madman is, in turn, a general that’s with the Royal Air Force who has gone completely insane with conspiracy theories against the communist regime. It’s the Cold War that could have been and one that never ceases to make you smile.
I think one of the reasons this film is regarded as a classic is because no matter how insane and convoluted its plot becomes, it remains believable as it has deep-seeded relevance. We never feel that this is too ridiculous to be a possibility simply due to the story’s roots in logic. Nuclear war was almost a very true possibility at the time, and the tools to do so today haven’t changed. In fact, the fears of nuclear war have worsened and have an increasing resonance with today’s society (think North Korea).
What makes the film brilliant is the subtle yet hilarious undertones throughout the film. You can’t help but smile at the escalation of each disastrous situation, even though you feel tense at the same time. Peter Sellers as Strangelove also steals the show with apparent buried Nazi tendencies still surfacing in front of others.
Whilst it might not make everyone burst out laughing in comparison to traditional comedies we’ve come to know lately, Kubrick’s films are in a class of their own. It’s sharp, witty, and rooted in a fully realized fictional world that could still be our future. A must watch for any film lover. See it.