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Relevant as ever, sharp enough to cut your throat...,
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This review is from: Dr. Strangelove (Collector's Edition) [DVD]   (DVD)
You might think that this powerful, indeed blood-chilling satirical vision of the insanity of nuclear brinkmanship would be redundant in the post-cold war era. On the contrary, the world of Bush and Rumsfeld fits very comfortably in the fabric of Kubrik's realpolitik. Bush might lack President Muffley's diffidence in the face of doomsday scenario's, but perhaps the gung-ho Texan bomber pilot Major Kong was cast with a foresight none of us could have predicted, 40 years ahead of his time!
This is a masterpiece, played without a false note by a truly memorable cast of characters portrayed straight(ish) by one of the finest acting ensembles I can recall seeing in any movie. Sellers is great, of course, but so are George C Scott, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, and (my own personal favourite) Sterling Hayden as Gen Ripper, among other gems.
The fact that substantial portions of screenplay are improvised and changes to the plot (including Slim Pickens's bareback ride on the WMD targeted on a Russian ICBM base) continued right up to the last minute is remarkable since the whole film is executed with frightening precision. Every speech and considered analysis of the realities of MAD strategy like a fresh move on the chessboard planned five moves in advance, yet the very random and unpredictable behaviour of the human being (in this case Gen Jack D Ripper) and machine throw the whole system into total chaos... and that is as true today as it has ever been!
As for the Sellers factor, this is probably not his greatest performance(s) - that privelege must surely go to Being There - but he carries off three enthralling characters with a totally instinctive and bravura acting that you could not doubt for a moment his genius.
But the star of the show must surely be Stanley Kubrick for keeping on the rails what might in lesser hands have gone completely over the top. Whatever madness appears on screen, Kubrik ensures it is never less that believable. And with that power, the film is a not a political comedy but a political weapon.
One last thought: Kubrik packs into 90 minutes what many directors would have bloated out into 3 hours. Would that every film could be so razor sharp that not so much as one word is out of place! Rest in peace, Stanley.