Physics 3550: War and Pace, English Paper
When we talk about nuclear war, we mean talking
about bombs, radiation, destruction, chaos, and paranoia. Two movies, “Dr.
Strangelove” and “Fail-Safe”, have similar stories but in terms of characters
and how they solve similar problems, they have nothing in common. On one hand
we have “Dr. Strangelove” who makes us laugh about what we should be concerned
and worried about, and the film transforms this horrible idea about the bomb
and massive destruction into something funny and peculiar that we should accept
as part of our normal life. In this film all the characters seems to be unreal
and mentally insane. A human sickness is the one who determines
when, where, and how we should drop a bomb.
On the other hand, we have “Fail-Safe” that, from a very serious point
of view, exposes the problematic of nuclear bombs. This film causes stress and
builds tension from the begging to the end. There are no jokes in this film,
and it’s “fail point” is not directly a human one, but it a mechanical
malfunction in the system that causes the conflict. The characters in this film
are educated and knowledgeable people who are experts on the material, but
still cannot resolve the problem. Both movies are catalogued under science
fiction, and even though it seems improbable that the
In the 1960s both the
The black and sarcastic comedy of “Dr. Strangelove” was released first, and it was more popular than “Fail Safe”. It was met with great acceptance from the general audience. The two movies are talking about the same subject but with a completely different approach and their unique approach is the one that makes people like one movie over the other one. We hear nasty, cruel, insane, and completely unrealistic decisions, in “Dr. Strangelove”, about how to handle a situation if a bomb was to be dropped. The overall reaction of the population was that the people who watched this movie liked it. In a survey, the audience rated “Dr Strangelove” with a 9.7 on a scale of 103. On the other hand, in “Fail Safe” they tried to find a solution to the problem in a more realistic way. They took it very seriously and the idea of killing innocent people was mentioned several times, as well as the feeling of guilt, which was constantly exposed. The general audience rated them with 7.7. Therefore, people could conclude that we don’t like tension or stress and even though things seem really bad people still want to laugh about them.
Lack of communication and language barriers were two
determinate factors in these films. First, there was the impotence of not been
able to express yourself because the other party did not speak in the same
language. The effectiveness of communication as a whole is not only to have
someone to translate what the other party is saying, but also to emphasize in
feelings, tone infections and translation not only what the word means but what
the person is straining to communicate. Therefore, the translators’ job is not
only to translate sentences, but it is to try to communicate an idea. In the
films, the presidents of each country had to speak with the presidents of other
ones. In “Fail Safe”, the president knew the importance of miscommunication.
Therefore, he asked the translator to translate not only words, but to include
any feelings and personal comments that could make the difference between
winning or losing the confidence from the other party.
Secondly, the information given is a tool in order to win the war. In “Dr.
Strangelove” there is not a language problem, but they focus on letting people
know what they know and what the purpose of the threats are to cause fear. If
we cannot communicate what we know or what we have, then no one would be aware.
Therefore, there would be no fear.1 In “Dr. Strangelove” we heard,
“Yes but the whole point of the doomsday machine…. is lost if you keep it a
secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, eh?” (56:29) The
A “blacklisted writer” was a very popular term around
1940-1960, and several good writers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.
The paranoia shown in “Dr. Strangelove” was not exaggerated, but it was a near
reality for the people who were living in the 1960s. Senator McCarthy was
committed to promote the phrase; “We have communist inflictors in our country”.
He caused such a big revolt that a governmental agency was created to find,
censor and limit all individual guarantees of US citizens if it was found that
they had any links with the communists.
Afterwards, The House Un-American Activities Committees (HUAC) was created,
McCarthy searched for traitors all over the country including, but not limited,
to: government agencies,
At the end of the “Fail Safe” movie, Columbia Pictures had to add a disclaimer that protected them from the government. It stated that nothing like this could happen in reality. Even though, the producer thought that this disclaimer was completely destructive to the movie, he had to leave it in order to show the movie. Sidney Lumet said that the theme of the film was to “stop and think”2. In “Dr. Strangelove”, the producer did not include any disclaimer because he thought the entire movie was so unrealistic that no one would bother to believe that something like that could happen in really. Ironically, talking about unrealistic situations, Dr. Strangelove was based on a book called “Red Alert” whose author, Peter George, committed suicide in June of 1966, and he was also affected by the paranoia of nuclear war.2 Whether Realistic or unrealistic, serious or funny, closer or farther the bomb that one day was only a myth, today is an unfortunate nightmarish reality.
Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,
screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and
Terry Southern. Produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Based on the book by Peter Bryant (a pseudonym for Peter George), Red Alert
(New York: Ace Books, 1958). The British title for Red Alertwas Two Hours to Doom. The
book based on the screenplay is: Peter George, Dr. Strangelove or: How I
Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(