Cigars in “Dr. Strangelove”

In Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove the main plot involves someone wrongly starting a nuclear war, and then the powers that be are trying to stop the catastrophe. In the end, nothing really gets done, except Russia is hit with one nuclear bomb which results in the entire world being blown up because Russia built a doomsday machine.

Throughout the film, the characters are over the top. Many are concerned with their own personal issues, like General Ripper, who was the guy that started the mess in the first place. I hate to sound like the person who analyzes everything, but I think the use of potentially phallic objects was interesting.

There was a line delivered to the Russian Ambassador regarding cigars that was particularly clever in my opinion. Basically, the American makes a subtle jab at the Ambassador about only smoking the commie cigars, which suggests to me that he is basically stuck next to the Premier.

Cigarettes and cigars are smoked numerous times by many characters, but there are other things such as the refueling of the bombs and the constant images of planes and missiles as well. “Bodily fluids” are mentioned as well. It seems slightly out of place, so perhaps it is there to make the general seem that much more insane for talking about bodily fluids as a basis for war. Perhaps it is actually relevant in providing a commentary on the society that is starving for power – as displayed by the phallic symbols – but the people in charge may be too weak to use their own thoughts and human rationale.

Overall, I think that the movie was one giant satirical commentary on the way the world works. It is filmed in black and white which suggests that there are only two distinct options to take when choosing sides. I also think that the use of potentially phallic symbols has us questioning whether or not General Ripper  is just a cigar addict or if he is compensating for something else. The over dramatization of the characters doing normal things and having normal conversations, makes us consider that perhaps we are all just smoking one big cigar, waiting on the atomic bomb to hit because someone had a superiority complex.

Wait, this sounds a lot like contemporary politics….




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