Dr. Strangelove

Analysis of Symbolism in Dr. Strangelove College

Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb presents us with a fascinating satirical snapshot of the Cold War. It reflects back at us the absurdity of US (and to a similar extent Soviet) nuclear policy. Unsurprisingly, the film was controversial, accused of “pinko” communism before production even ended. The irony of this accusation in light of the film’s subject matter is palpable. Kubrick uses character flaws to symbolize and scathingly criticize the institutions that those characters represent. This criticism is wide reaching, spanning from the weakness of the British military and American politicians to the warmongering of the US Military-Industrial Complex and the latent Nazism of the American scientific community. These criticisms reflects Kubrick’s personal views, as well as many popular sentiments of the time.

Naturally, each unreliable character in the film represents a separate fear or anxiety the American public had about specific institutions. Generals Ripper and Turgidson each represent the wild and warmongering behavior of the US military (particularly the US Air Force) and the bloat and waste of the military-industrial complex during the Cold War. The amorality...

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