Stanley Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove

“As I kept trying to imagine the way in which things would really happen, ideas kept coming to me which I would discard because they were so ludicrous. I kept saying to myself: ‘I can’t do this. People will laugh.’ But after a month or so I began to realize that all the things I was throwing out were the things which were most truthful.”[1]

“The only way to tell the story was as a black comedy, or better, a nightmare comedy, where the things you laugh at most are really the heart of the paradoxical postures that make nuclear war possible.”[2]

“When the director is not his own author, I think it is his duty to be one hundred per cent faithful to the author’s meaning and to sacrifice none of it for the sake of climax or effect. This seems a fairly obvious notion, yet how many plays and films have you seen where the experience was exciting and arresting but when it was over you felt there was less there than met the eye? And this is usually due to artificial stimulation of the senses by technique which disregards the inner design of the play. It is here that we see the cult of the director at its worst.”[3]

“The real image doesn’t cut the mustard, doesn’t transcend. I’m not interested in taking a story, fantastic and improbable, and trying to get to the bottom of it, to make it seem not only real, but inevitable.”[4]

“After all, what could be more absurd than the very idea of two mega powers willing to wipe out all human life because of an accident, spiced up by political differences that will seem as meaningless to people a hundred years from now as the theological conflicts of the Middle Ages appear to us today?” [5]

“Why should the bomb be approached with reverence? Reverence can be a paralyzing state of mind. For me the comic sense is the most eminently human reaction to the mysteries and the paradoxes of life. I just hope some of them are illuminated by the exaggerations and the style of the film. And I don’t see why an artist has to do any more than produce an artistic experience that reflects his thinking.”[6]


[1] Whitfield, Stephen J. The Culture of the Cold War. 2nd ed., Baltimore: The JohnsHopkins University Press.

[2]Whitfield, 220.

[3] Kubrick, Stanley. Words and Movies. Sight & Sound, vol.30 (1960/61), p.14. http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0072.html
[4] Kagan, Norman. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. 3rd ed., New York: The Continuum Publishing Company, 2000.

[5] Ibid

[6] Boxen, Jeremy. “Just What the Doctor Ordered: Cold War Purging, Political Dissent, and the Right Hand of Dr. Strangelove.” Thesis, Queen’s University, Canada, April19th, 1995. The Kubrick Site.http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0029.html



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