Why it’s famous:
A pioneer of the black comedy film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a brilliant satire of international relations and ideological paranoia. This movie explores the hypothetical scenario of a deranged American general ordering all bomber planes under his command to execute a nuclear strike on the USSR, and the group of politicians who try to stop him.
President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.
Dr. Strangelove: Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!
Why you haven’t seen it:
You read the full, strange, 13-word title and wrote it off as some dated 60s comedy. Or you took one of Dr. Michael Strangelove’s communication classes, and the movie title reminded you too much of that terrifying experience.
Why it might be tough to get through:
It requires a particular sense of humour. General Ripper’s rants about communists stealing Americans’ “precious bodily fluids” near the start might get a little too weird for your taste.
Why you should see it anyway:
This film is referenced constantly in popular culture. The famous scene of Major Kong riding a nuclear bomb to oblivion, for one, has been referenced and parodied too many times to count.
But more importantly, this film allows us to, as its alternative title says, learn to stop worrying and love the bomb. Although fears of nuclear war aren’t quite as high today as they were at the time of this film’s release in 1964, just after the Cuban Missile Crisis, they do still exist, and the brilliant use of satire to make us laugh in the face of death makes it easier for us to face them.
Those who enjoy television shows like BoJack Horseman and Rick and Morty, or the comedy stylings of Louis C.K., Bill Burr, and George Carlin, already understand the cathartic effect comedy can have when exploring the parts of life that scare us the most. When it comes to mocking the idea of total nuclear annihilation, it doesn’t get any better than Dr. Strangelove.
Peter Sellers, who played three characters in the film, was paid $1 million, 55 per cent of the film’s budget.
The film was originally supposed to be a thriller based on the novel Red Alert, by Peter George. Director Stanley Kubrick decided to make the film a satire after realizing many of the scenes he had written were actually funny.