Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dr. Strangelove and the Cold War

Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Directed by Stanley Kubrik, Columbia Pictures. Released January 1964 (the movie was slated to be released in late November 1963, but the Kennedy assassination pushed the released back).

The nuclear arsenal in the United States was had three different kinds of delivery systems: Intercontinental Ballistic Missles (ICBM), missiles launched from atomic submarines, and bombs dropped from airplanes under the command of the Strategic Air Command (SAC)

The fear of Communism in the United States, whipped up first by President Harry S. Truman, was the bete noire of American politics during most of the Cold War era; its legacy is still present, in fact, in the accusation that President Barak Obama is a socialist (Americans have long had great difficulty distinguishing between socialism and communism).

You will notice that throughout the film, hyper-masculine sexuality is made fun of: from the names used for characters like "Buck" Turgidson, President Merkin Muffley, Group Captain Mandrake.

Some groups during the Cold War characterized everything they disagreed with a "Communisit plot"--including things as innocuous as the flouridation of water.

Mutually Assured Destruction, taken to its logical conclusion

The sanctity of private property:

American ingenuity at work:

'til we meet again

Dr. Strangelove is an iconic piece of film making, but it is also a document of history. The film was shot and produced just a year after the United States and the Soviet Union reached the brink of nuclear war with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The film reflects the concern that some Americans felt over the arms race, and what its continuation meant for the United States--and the world. For the this week's assignment, I would like you to reflect on the issues the film raises. What was the effect of the Cold War on American society? What changed in American society as a result of the perceived threat from the Soviety Union?

If you would like to tackle a longer project for this week's assignment, you may write a 3-5 page review of the movie Dr. Strangelove. This assignment is due at the beginning of class on Friday, November 12.

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