The movie Doctor Strangelove is a political satire by Stanley Kubrick which was made with the purpose of showing viewing audiences what can happen if the wrong type of leader were to have the power literally at their fingertips to destroy the world. This is the power that both America and Russia had during the Cold War and given the destruction of Japan after the Atomic bomb there was a fear another bomb could be dropped anywhere at any time. During the post-WWII years there was a great deal of propaganda used to scare the average American into thinking that Communist governments were sending spies into the country with the intention of gathering information or a possible attack. The movie does address the morality of political leaders using misinformation and half-truths to further their own agendas, which was a real concern during the Cold War.
Another area of moral concern for many Americans during the Cold War was the use of German scientists who had previously worked for the Nazis during World War II. Many people questioned the morality of this act, but the government brushed the concerns aside by saying if America has the knowledge of these scientists the nation could better protect itself against the communist threat which was always present. Why save the German scientists who helped create weapons of mass destruction to build the same kind of tools which the government claims will never be used? This was an important moral question brought up by the film.
Additionally, Doctor Strangelove demonstrates how government leaders can become so drunk with power they begin manufacturing information about threats against the nation and launch attacks. This is ironic considering that post-9/11 President Bush is accused of committing this very act in order to have a valid reason to invade Iraq. Some believed this is what happened during the Bay of Pigs incident which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis during the Kennedy administration. Governments have always used various forms of propaganda to push their agendas both morally and politically. However, as shown in the film, leaders can take this power and abuse it to the point where catastrophe is ready to happen. Because of this moral dilemma, Kubrick uses the fear and paranoia of the cold war to create a film that is the epitome of the abuse of political power to begin or end wars like Charles Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.
One of the most impressive elements of this film is the fact that it is shot entirely in black and white. While this might not seem impressive, film makers who shoot in black and white such as in Schindler’s List make the film more poignant in the mind of the viewing audience. Again, comparing Doctor Strangelove to The Great Dictator also must take the political satire elements into consideration. What this means is that making comedy appear to be a serious story and make a point in the overall plot. This tool is extremely effective in the overall storytelling.
The question of whether or not this film should be recommended to students for the moral issues of war would be answered by this writer as yes. Doctor Strangelove, even though a satirical comedy makes a valid point about the misuse of power in order to gain or further one’s own agenda. It also can be considered as a warning to the viewing audience to be careful when given information by authorities and to question the validity of what they are being told. In summary, the morality of the use of power should be limited for fear of being dragged into war.