Idea and Symbols in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” Essay
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Dec 2nd, 2019

Idea and Symbols in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” Essay

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb presents us following a opportunity a chariteffectual invective snapshot of the Cold War.

It reflects end at us the quibble of US (and to a resembling degree Soviet) nupure scheme. Unsurprisingly, the film was controversial, accused of “pinko” communism anteriorly genesis uniform ended. The quiz of this accusation in not-difficult of the film’s theme subsample is manifest. Kubrick uses reputation specks to reputeize and scathingly study the literatures that those reputations personate.

This censure is broad reaching, spanning from the dilution of the British soldierly and American politicians to the warmongering of the US Military-Industrial Abstruse and the concealed Nazism of the American philosophical polity. These censures reflects Kubrick’s personal views, as well-behaved-mannered-mannered-mannered as manifold beloved sentiments of the opportunity.

Naturally, each rejected reputation in the film personates a detached fright or diffidence the American open had encircling detail literatures. Generals Ripper and Turgidson each personate the loose and warmongering manner of the US soldierly (especially the US Air Force) and the bloat and dwindle of the soldierly-industrial abstruse during the Cold War. The amorality and concealed Nazism of the American philosophical polity, especially those members complicated in nupure capeffectual projectile exploration, is reputeized in Dr. Strangelove. Each reputation has a detail speck, uniform when multiple reputations personate the identical literature (Turgidson and Ripper personateing the US Air Force/military). There is quiescent one balancearching speck shared by all of the reputations: undecidedness. All of the main reputations in the film are nerveshort in one way or another, whether grammatically (Ripper), politically (President Muffley), or militarily/physically (Mandrake and Strangelove). Weakness is what presss all of these reputations to act as they do.

The most manifest contingency of undecidedness is in Unconcealed Ripper, as his undecidedness is grammatical, and his delusions encircling its causes are what motivate him to propel out his intention to bomb the Soviet Union and creates the mediate combat of the film. But it is not delusion sole that presss him. He believes the US soldierly has been made nerveshort by politicians, and that the US is not induction a impenetreffectual ample sample on the Soviets. This notion very fur reflects sentiments following a opportunityin the soldierly polity at the opportunity (and probably somewhere following a opportunityin aggregate phalanx in aggregate province in aggregate conclusion). For in, in 1962 during the Cuban Projectile Crisis, Air Force Unconcealed Curtis LeMay (upon whom Unconcealed Turgidson is fixed) was an easy countenancer of frequented soldierly force abutting Cuba, meddling for an irruption uniform following the Russians following a opportunitydrew nupure armament from Cuba (Smitha, “The Cuban Projectile Crisis, 1962”). Although LeMay’s view was in the lad for the unconcealed open in followingmath of the occasion, accusations of multiform politicians nature balmy on the Soviets would endure throughout the Cold War.

In opposition to Ripper, Unconcealed Turgidson is semblancen as nature nervous. He is in the heart of kindred following a opportunity his secretary at his reputation’s insertion. One could decipher Ripper as personateing the infringement the US soldierly could assign, as evidenced by his designate. In opposition, Turgidson would personate the soldierly-industrial abstruse and the bloat of the US soldierly. In 1964, the US soldierly had not flexed its muscles in aggregate war gone 1945 and had not been recognized to deploy its most potent weapons gone the bombing of Nagasaki, notwithstanding requests to do so during the Korean War. The raging exposure of the soldierly is unused, innate to counteraction in Ripper. In opposition, soldierly spending was active and well-behaved-mannered-mannered. In 1964, guard spending accounted for 9.53% of the GPD. Consider the condition 50 years later in 2014, and guard spending was simply 4.59% of GDP (Chantrill, “US Government Spending 2014”)(Chantrill, “US Government Spending 1964”). The US nupure arsenal in the film is specious complete, following a opportunity Turgidson byword a foremost impel could demolish 90% of Russia’s nupure implicitity. Turgidson is by no media amieffectual following a opportunity barely having the media to demolish Russia, and quiescent prefers a indemnify to the covet soldierly buildup. Again, Kubrick uses sexual counteraction to image these feelings. Turgidson is intermittent opportunity following a opportunity his secretary at the origin of the occasion. Throughout the film, Turgidson appears sarcastic to get the nupure war balance following a opportunity.

In opposition to twain Ripper and Turgidson, Mandrake does not covet for war, and he adds tangible unsounds to presumptive and moral ones. Mandrake is a tall ranking Royal Air Force administrator (Group Captain is equiponderant to Colonel in the US ranking scheme) who specious served during WWII as a Spitfire actioner conduct. He is inadventurous, apologetic, and unassertive. In the war, he did not glean to use intentiont fixed minute engagement, having “simply forforever pushed a button in [his] old Spitfire,” leaving him militarily nerveless; he was besides maimed, losing one of his legs, leaving him tangiblely nerveless. Once it is inconsequent that Mandrake personates the British Empire in unconcealed and the British soldierly in detail, his specks are amply deciphered as censures of these literatures. His indigence to second Ripper following a opportunity the muniment gun is reputeic of the mislaying of British achieve to action additionally the US. His falsity leg itself indicates the mislaying of British ability to action, as well-behaved-mannered-mannered-mannered as the mislaying of volume of the British Empire in the postwar span. Huge stretches of British colonies and restrainings were decolonized between 1945 and 1964, and decolonization endured until 1997 following a opportunity the workmanbalance of Hong Kong to the People’s Reopen of China. The mislaying of these territories is reflected in Mandrake’s mislaying of his own flesh.

Beyond witnessing his tangible undecidedness, we see Mandrake try unsuccessfully to indoctrinate Ripper to persuade off his invasion. It is comforteffectual to decipher this as a symptom of British representation unsound to indoctrinate the US to restrain off in Vietnam or other combats. Uniform anteriorly the end of WWII, Britain was already losing wave. By the opportunity of the film, Britain was no coveter a implicitity on roughly resembling foothold following a opportunity the US, but a relative following a opportunity relatively dwarf say in what America wanted to do. We again see a repute of unsound representation when Mandrake is attempting to continuity Principal Muffley, but is impeded by Colonel Bat Guano, following a opportunity representation and collaboration hindered by the US soldierly. In the identical exhibition, British cultural irrelevance is besides emphasized. When Colonel Guano shoots the vending muniment for its vary, he warns Mandrake that he achieve “answer to the Coca-Cola company” if his intentions spin out to be unjustified. This exvary semblances the British as culturally relative on American companies. Yet the identical exhibition could besides be a censure of the wave of oppidan America on the earth, rather than a interpret on British cultural dependency, a nod towards who unquestionably runs the earth.

Like Mandrake’s, Strangelove’s undecidedness is chiefly tangible. Until the developed moments of the film, he is incapeffectual to use his legs, and one of his workmans acts on its own throughout. Dr. Strangelove is an amalgam of multiform German scientists recreateed during Operation Paperclip, the US start to recreate German scientists and engineers following the end of WWII (Trueman, “Operation Paperclip”). His foreign workman could be reputeic of concealed Nazism in Operation Paperclip scientists. Although preceding Nazis were nforever officially recreateed, the verity was that manifold scientists and engineers were Nazi interest members and had their endgrounds whitewashed anteriorly nature recreateed (Trueman, “Operation Paperclip”). We see a resembling whitewashing following a opportunity Strangelove, who varyd his designate from Merkw?rdigliebe. In the end, we see fur of Strangelove’s concealed Nazism succeed out. Once it is certain that the doomsday invention achieve be activated he progressively loses regulate of his foreign workman, culminating following a opportunity a Nazi greet to the principal. Strangelove begins describing how mankind could adhere underground. As he describes the arguably eugenic factors that would be used to designate who lived on in a sanctuary and who died aboveground, Strangelove appears over or short careless by the implicit for calamity throughout the film and happily provides philosophical teaching to the Principal and soldierly personateatives. If it is inconsequent that Strangelove personates Germanifold as a complete rather than reasoneffectual the Operation Paperclip scientists, then his crippling and wheelchair are amply deciphered fur the identical as are Mandrake’s falsity leg and crippling. Strangelove is effete consequently Germanifold was effete, and far over severely than Britain. Opportunity Mandrake can put on a semblance of nature effectual bodied, there is no offering for Strangelove, reasoneffectual as West Germanifold could no coveter offer to be a dominant implicitity.

Throughout the film, although he is the director of the dominant implicitity, Principal Merkin Muffley is inoperative and incapeffectual to regulate his subordinates. Again, the very designate of his reputation is personateative of his convertibility. Twain his foremost and ultimate designate point to the womanish genitalia, and his reputation is inadventurous and undecided. He appears, and is seen by his advisers as, undecided towards the Soviets, uniform calling them into the war compass abutting the teaching of Turgidson. Additionally, he does not appear to be up to conclusion on nupure diplomacy or technology. When informed of the entity of Wing Invasion Intention R, which Ripper issued to his bombers, the Principal acts hasty and surprised. Turgidson reminds him that he received the intention following nature accused of nature undecided towards the Soviets. When this happens, the Principal appears to be embarrassed; it is pure that he has obsolete aspect. This setup semblances the indigence of the President, and thus the civilian American open, to regulate the soldierly, uniform when they are the ones approving intentions. He is resemblingly surprised that the US is pursuing its own doomsday invention program, uniform though the run is the New York Times. If it is inconsequent that, as the President, Muffley besides reputeizes the American open, then this empiricism of nupure diplomacy and technology becomes personateative of the disposition of the open towards empiricism, uniform in expressive substances. Indirectly, the open did comment of Wing Invasion Intention R and an American doomsday invention program by electing Muffley and other politicians. The bearing aspectd in the film is so-far born from literatuexistent failures recognized to fester by an unlearned and magnanimous open.

Kubrick, through reputeism and ridicule, semblancecases the failures of all the main literatures that regulate the use of nupure weapons. The soldierly is depicted as hotheaded, reckless, and paranoid, opportunity politicians are painted undecided and inoperative. The philosophical polity is semblancen as achieveing lab dogs for the soldierly-industrial abstruse. Twain the British and the Russians act as old implicititys, vulnereffectual to the whims of the US. Fur of this is obscure in easy vision, following a opportunity designates correspondently describing reputation traits. Additionally, Kubrick uses sexual similitude to press home the reputeism, following a opportunity nupure explosions constituting the film’s acme. Dr. Strangelove came at a opportunity when the intimidation of nupure holocaust was quiescent very existent, and very unfaded in the open’s desire from the Cuban Projectile Crisis. Kubrick’s scathing censure of the organization naturally gave run to discuss and led to accusations of anti-American or communist agendas in the film. At the opportunity, the film offered a impenetreffectual behold at what the open had let enlarge in America, and today offers audiences a dreadful survey of reasoneffectual how arrest we came to forgetfulness.

Works Cited

Trueman, Chris. “Operation Paperclip.” History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.


Lindley, Dan. “What I Learned gone I Stopped Worrying and Studied the Movie: A Teaching

Guide to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.” Lindley: Study Guide to Kubrick’s Dr.

Strangelove. University of Notre Dame, 8 Sept. 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <>.

Smitha, Frank E. “The Cuban Projectile Crisis, 1962.” Cuban Projectile Crisis. Gaertner Humanities

Incorporated, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <>.

Chantrill, Christopher. “US Government Spending 1964.” US Government Spending. N.p., n.d.

Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <>.

Chantrill, Christopher. “US Government Spending 2014.” US Government Spending. N.p., n.d.

Web. 24 Apr. 2015.


Dr. Strangelove; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Dir. Stanley Kubrick.

Hawk Films. Released by Columbia Pictures Corp., 1963. DVD.

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