Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Monday, September 27, 2004  

I watched Dr. Strangelove (full title: Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb) over the weekend.

Dr. Strangelove is a favourite film of mine. A satire about the Cold War and what would happen if the Bomb were ever actually launched, it's one of the most hilarious, most fantastical, and considering its year of release (1964) as well as the ending (which Michael Moore ripped off in Bowling for Columbine), one of the most audacious films ever made.

The movie's chock-full of great moments. The scene where Peter Sellers as the American president, Merkin Muffley, is on the phone to the inebriated Soviet premier, Kissoff, is particularly inspired; Sellers as former Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove is pure genius; and when the Soviet ambassador and the gung-ho General "Buck" Turgidson come to blows, Sellers-as-President utters perhaps the single funniest line ever in a film: "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

Dr. Strangelove is, of course, patently absurd; it was meant to be. But watching it in these times, it doesn't appear as absurd as all that. With the countdown to the US presidential election on and GW Bush seeming more and more likely to secure four more years, we can be very assured the new Cold War, the war on terror, will continue. (I refuse to capitalise Bush's personal crusade; I won't give it any more legitimacy than it deserves, however "real" its proponents think it to be.)

Bush's hubristic determination to follow his current course of action, allied with--even premised on--his belief in divine sanction for his deeds, isn't that far removed from the Dr. Strangelove scenario and General Jack D. Ripper's belief in a Communist conspiracy to overthrow the West. Ripper's crackpot conviction that the Commies plan to take over through the contamination of bodily fluids (um, see the film) leads him to put in train the events that will ensure the destruction of the world; Bush, while perhaps not on the same team, is certainly in the same league. I can't say that I'm looking forward to how this movie is going to end.

posted by Jonathan | 12:51 PM 0 comments


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