03 April 2010

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Oh my god, what could I possibly say? If you want to know the truth, this might be my favorite movie of all time. It's funny, it's scary, it's poignant, it's character driven, it's absurdist, the script is tight as hell, original, and thematically rich. There isn't a single scene about sex in the entire film, and yet there isn't a single scene that isn't about sex in the entire film. It's quotable, it moves at such a rapid clip and it's so engaging it makes it hard to slow down and be objective or critical. (But of course it holds up if you are able to.) It's George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and the inimitable Peter Sellers x3. It's everything I want in a movie.

It's also the primary model, in a weird way, for the script I'm working on, and for that very reason I've put off watching it until I could really focus. There's a tone here, where things are happening and they're exciting and ostensibly scary and at the same time, the least realistic story ever told, with impossible characters with impossible names believing impossible things, and saying and doing impossible things. The arguments between President Muffley and General Turgidson are priceless; the stoic speeches General Ripper gives to poor Group Captain Mandrake are just amazing. In both cases, Peter Sellers plays the straight-man (never say the man couldn't do drama) and he's what sells the situations. Reacting deadpan and earnestly in the face of escalating absurdity is exactly what I love here and exactly what I ambitiously hope to capture. Indiana Jones and John McClane and Martin Riggs can keep their head down and run guns-blazing into impossibly dangerous situations and we root them on for it. Well, Mandrake and Muffley are heroes of a different genre, the pitch-black comedy, staring down a different kind of dragon and facing it with just as much aplomb. And I haven't even mentioned the title character, because strangely I feel there's no need to mention him. That man, he speaks for himself.

Oh, Dr. Strangelove, I do love you.

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