47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Stanley Kubrick, UK, 1964, 102 minutes
In 1964, with the threat of nuclear war looming over the entire world, Stanley Kubrick spun the whole issue on its head by creating the greatest ever comment on Cold War insanity, but also one of the funniest films ever made. Taking Peter George’s novel, “Two Hours Till Doom”, a deadly serious tale of an unauthorized attack on the Soviet Union, Kubrick originally intended to play the story straight, but changed to full-on black comedy. And you can thank your precious bodily fluids he did, for this is one of the darkest, most merciless comedies ever made.
The film runs in three concurrent strands, with the magnificent Peter Sellers playing three of the finest portrayals of military insanity. The first strand is set in a U.S military base, with General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) going crazy in the belief that the Communists are invading and so sends a wing of B-52 bombers to bombard the Soviets and so spark nuclear war. Only a British officer (Sellers) has any chance of stopping him...
The second is on board one of the bombers, piloted by a hilarious Texan called Major T.J Kong (also look out for a young James Earl Jones) and in the third the U.S President (Sellers) is desperately trying to solve the problem. The films revolves around these three scenes, with each action in one directly involving the other two. There are more memorable scenes than you can imagine, including the appearance of the title character (Sellers, again), a mad ex-Nazi scientist; the President's phone call to the Soviet leader, probably the funniest monologue of movie history; and of course the tragi-comic, unforgettable ending. It is breathtaking to watch and despite the excellence of the acting, it is indeed Kubrick's genius that makes this film tick.
Review by Chay Williamson
Written for EUFS Programme Spring 2003
As with all films directed by the fairly over-rated Stanley Kubrick, the imagery and indeed the photography of this film is unbelievable. Shot in crisp black-and-white with an accentuated sense of contrast, the beauty of Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is undeniable.
Peter Sellars, for comic effect, takes on three roles - the inventor of "the A Bomb", the pressurised President of the USA and a British Group Captain in a sticky situation. Sellars is, of course, brilliant.
The story itself is fairly simple so I won't reveal it. It is moments throughout the film which make it special, such as the American Sellars phone conversation with his Russian counterpart. The film is a supreme piss-take of the incompetence or in fact child-like nature of the great superpowers (i.e. America and Russia a few years ago) with moments of tragedy laced with one-liners, some of which are too dated to comprehend.
"Easily the funniest movie made about global thermonuclear holocaust" - Virgin
Review by Christopher Palmer
Taken from EUFS Programme 1996-97
This review has been changed from the original to amend some factual inaccuracies.