Why do values dictate society? How are they created? And by what means are they challenged? Values assert themselves as the framework of history, events and ideas take place in this framework and every so often one will bounce against the walls causing a dint in the frame, a dint that will either be repaired or one that will be left as part of the ever changing structure. Dr Strangelove or How I learnt to stop worrying and love the bomb directed by Stanley Kubrick ventured outside the framework, verbalising the fears of society whilst challenging the dominant paradigms imposed by governments. Strangelove expresses what people dare not mention, visually represents their greatest fear, and challenges the capabilities of Authority figures. Unconventionally Strangelove outlines America and Russia’s bomb-filled lust for each other. Kubrick makes people laugh whilst watching their nagging fear, that lingering doubt that their world end is just an easy button click away- thus creating the ultimate nightmare comedy. Stanley Kubrick came of age just after world war two and was well accustomed to the cold war. His fear of nuclear warfare and distrust of the capabilities of Military leaders lead him to consider moving to Sydney as he thought this would be an unlikely target for a nuclear attack. Kubrick’s inspiration for Strangelove came from the Novel red alert by Peter George but he decided that it provided a much too depressing view on the whole ordeal and so, used satire too make his point. He states “A satirist is someone who has a very sceptical view of human nature, but who still has the optimism to make some sort of a joke out of it, however brutal that joke might be.” He believed people of the 1960’s capable of laughing at their own annihilation. Are paradigms merely guidelines to life? Kubrick believed not, stating that “hypocrisy was not some petty human foible, it was the corrupted essence of our predicament.” "The only way this thing works for me is as a satire. It's the same point, but it's just a better way of making the point." Said Stanley Kubrick when his producer insisted that the film be made in a serious manner. What did Kubrick create when he mixed surrealism with realism? Absurdism, creating a film where the audience didn’t know whether to laugh or be unsettled as seen in the bomber cockpit. It looks completely realistic with its controls but our sense of the real life situation is destroyed as the camera pans out to reveal pilots playing cards, reading playboy magazines and novels as if completely unaware that they’re carrying nuclear weapons. Realism provided a dramatic look at both nuclear powers on the brink of a war without necessarily wanting to be in such a war whilst the surrealist satirical elements made it acceptable all the while mocking militarist ideals. This distortion of believable and unbelievable created the satire which allowed a sense of detachment whilst watching the unwatchable. The 1950’s and 60’s was a time when society was forced to put a lot of trust in decision makers. Strangelove depicts a scenario where this trust is not only ill deserved but completely abused. How does a mentally deranged General order a strike on Russia? Why do his military superiors not condemn his actions? “Although I hate to judge before the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like General Ripper has acceded his authority” says General Turgison in a somewhat offhand manner whilst he reads from a folder labelled “world targets in mega deaths”. Strangelove distorts the image of strong military leaders creating destruction hungry men who’s ultimate goal is to break the cold war by dropping the nuclear bomb. By creating incompetent generals who are more likely to destroy America than protect it Kubrick effectively subverts the paradigm of militarism.
This leads us to the question –where does the idea of Dr Strangelove come into it? The character Dr Strangelove does not play a big enough role for the film to be...
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