Sr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The scene in the film Dr. Strangelove that best represents a comical relationship between sex and war is when the character Slim Pickens is straddling the bomb and it is crashing down to earth. It shows the dominance of the male in the state of war. By doing this he is showing the destruction of land and people for his own satisfaction. This shows his bravery as well as his stupidity as he is using lust to show power and control.

The film Dr. Strangelove is a satire about the threat of Soviet Union planning Doomsday with a nuclear bomb and sex. It is filled with a lot of dark humor and sexual connotations like many of Stanley Kubrick’s films. This film helps lighten the mood of the audience, especially in America, due to the actual threat of the bomb ending the Cold War. It warned against the advances of technology, like the film Metropolis. The nuclear bomb did not need a human to trigger it, therefore saying that technology could outsmart humans and take over. Dr. Strangelove had a theory that the Communist are convoluting the water supply and many other products with fluoride, tainting his life essence. “I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love…Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I-I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake…but I do deny them my essence.”

The male sexual ego can be seen through the words, actions, and even the names of the male characters. For example, Jack the Ripper was a notorious serial killer of prostitutes and Merkin Muffley refers to the female genitalia. All of the names in the film have some sexual connotation of some sort that also reflect their characteristics. The film makers are alluding that war is directly related to the sexuality of the male leaders and displaying their power through sex.

There is also a lot of imagery that suggest sexual acts, such as the opening scene. In this scene the audience watches to B-52 bombers “mating” in mid-air as a long tube connects them. The last scene of the film is supposed to suggest that Dr. Strangelove has an orgasm because he is so moved by the post-apocalypse. These two scenes marking the beginning and end of the Soviet threat and the film complete the act of sex beginning with foreplay and ending with an orgasm.

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Vertigo

Like the actual condition of vertigo, the film Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is psychological and suspenseful and brings the audience into a freefall of twists and turns. When Scottie’s true love commits “suicide” he spirals down to his rock bottom where he ends up meeting Judy. Judy is the spitting image of Madeline except for her hair color and clothing. Once he convinces her to go out with him, he begins to try and transform her into his late love by dying her hair and buying her the exact clothes Madeline wore.

One of the main themes in the film Vertigo is death. It is constantly on the minds of the characters tempting them through their dreams and the loss of love. Madeline, the subject of Scottie’s private investigation finds herself caught up in her nightmares, which leads her to her ultimate “suicide.” He life is literally taken control of by the nightmares when she is doing daily activities that she doesn’t remember where she always is knocking at death’s door.  Even though she has strong feeling towards her own death in her possessed state, she really doesn’t want to die. This is related to Madeline’s true persona of Judy, who is “dead” because she has taken on the role of Madeline. Judy is fighting to keep her true self alive as she is falling for Scottie and tries to take control of that when she is back to her normal self. Scottie also faces the threat of death when he loses Madeline, his love. He begins to have the nightmares that had possessed Madeline however he is able to overcome them when he meets Judy.

Another theme in the film is the changing appearances of people. All of the characters at one point take on another façade that is either brought by their self or others changing them. Scottie is the first example of this as his profession is being a private eye always hiding in the shadows, never letting anyone see him. Judy, who plays the role of Madeline in the set up of her death by her husband, goes through the most transformations. Judy is first disguised as Madeline, the blonde, high-lass, elegant woman, as she plays the role of some mans wife in carrying out her homicide to make it seem like a suicide. Then she revives her actual self as Judy who works in a department store and lives meagerly. When Scottie meets Judy, he changes her back into the spiting image of Madeline so he can be with his true love once more. Lastly, there is Midge who is desperate for Scottie’s attention and love. She takes a painting that he saw with Madeline and copies it but puts herself in the picture. She changes her appearance to the image of something that Scottie loved.

Citizen Kane

Those who think they know what they need in life to be happy are going to disappointed. The beginning scene in the movie shows Charles Foster in the castle far away from any other civilization that he builds for his wife, in bed alone. He whispers his last word, “Rosebud” and drops a snow globe with a small little house as he dies. At the end of he movie, you realize that that is what his dream was, to be in the bouse the was born in with his sled.

Unlike in the Movie Modern Times, which glorified the idea of the American Dream, Citizen Kane did quite the opposite. Life is harsh reality that nothing can be simple and perfect. Ina flashback, Kane is shown as a child playing in the snow with a sled appearing to be living the American Dream. However, just inside his parents are signing the papers to give him away to a wealthy Mr. Thatcher. Mr. Thatcher gives him anything a boy could ask for; a great education, luxurious life, and a massive fortune. We later see him with his wife and child who, to the public look absolutely perfect, but what people couldn’t see was that he was having an affair and had his job as the main priority in his life. A series of time at their dining table was shown in which everyday he acted less interested in their marriage. His main love was his work. In another marriage with the singer, he built her an Opera House, hired a voice coach, built her a castle, and although it looked like a dream, they were miserable.

Money doesn’t buy happiness.  A line in the movie that sticks out is when Kane says, “If I wasn’t rich I think I would have been a better man.” Money is power and an easy way to corrupt people and the relationships they have with those around them. Charles Kane is too concerned with the materialistic items in the world. He becomes obsessed with collecting statues from around the world, leaving his very little space in his life to fit anything else.

Charles Kane was unable to experience happiness in his own life so he made it a living to ruin the lives of others. Kane takes complete control of a newspaper, The Inquirer, and contrived false stories about people in order to sell the most papers. He is so concerned with selling the most papers and making the most money, he sacrifices the people around him, who are supposed to love, yet as many re-telling the story say, he only loved himself. He first tells the papers to publish the story of his love affair with the “singer.” This devastated his current wife and son, embarrasses the singer, and shows how rotten of a man he could be. After the opening night of his next wife’s Opera, his finds his partner passed out writing a horrible story about her and instead of changing it, he continues to write horrible things that he publishes on the front page.  He lives a hollow and shallow life that started with everything being given to him with a silver spoon. He experienced traveling the world, great schools, and anything he would ask for. He was cut short of the life he really wanted which was in the snow globe he broke in as he passed away.

Modern Times

The iconic opening scene of the film Modern Times shows herds of sheep pushing through a small area about to be used for their coats and milk. Theses sheep morph into the men during a time of suffering to their respected place of work. There work includes the operations of large, dangerous machinery, long hours and little pay. These were the lucky ones; many didn’t even have a job. The main character, the Tramp, played by Charlie Chaplin, had a difficult time adjusting to the changing world of industrialization. After a mental breakdown, the accusation of being communist, much jail time, accidentally experimenting cocaine and various nowhere jobs, he tells his companion, the gamin, to never say die and if they have each other they will be okay.

Another theme I the way that the identities of the people were taken away and they were herded like sheep into huge warehouses where they would work with dangerous machinery. They were dehumanized by the onset of the times. They were required to do repetitious, unskillful, unintelligent jobs. They were treated no better than the machines that they operated. The people were numb to life because they were thrown into this dull world that didn’t have any promises of getting them anywhere in life. It was boring and sad to see the way they were living their lives during the depression, which made it easy for many to opt out of life.

One of the recurring themes in the film Modern Times is the issue of poverty, which was prevalent during the time this movie was made. The Great Depression was an era in United States history that was consumed by poverty, homelessness, strikes, rioting, drugs and unemployment. Charlie Chaplin brought all of these into the light of the public while most directors stayed away from these themes. He even played with the accusations of him being a communist. The main time in the movie when we see this is when he is chasing after the truck that dropped the flag and when seen waving the flag he is immediately seen as the leader of the protests in favor of communism. He is taken into custody as an innocent man.

People had to help each other during these times and when Chaplin collided with the gamin, who was stealing to try and provide for her younger sisters and unemployed father, they became each other’s confidants. Chaplin aided the gamin and vice versa escape the law multiple times, finding bottom of the barrel jobs as waiters, singers, night shift security guards, etc. so they could survive. They were ecstatic when they found a small house to live in and stable jobs. However the very instant everything seemed to be falling into place it was ripped away from them an they ended back up with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a long empty road. All of these themes were very prevalent during the time and with his great artistic abilities, he creates a comedy.

 

Metropolis

Flying planes, fast cars, and expensive skyscrapers fascinate and distract society from the natural beauty of the world. The film Metropolis is a message to the people of the time that if we keep living like we are, depending so much on technology, we are destroying our world. We fall into routines of going to work, coming home, going to bed and we are turning into the machine that is created in this film. And even though this film was made 84 years ago, the ideas are still the same today. We are so caught up in these advances and acting like robots we aren’t seeing the harm that is happening to our world.

The sets in the movie Metropolis depicted a Utopian world with futuristic and fantastical themes. Each set helps the audience understand the social structure of this city. When we first see Freder, he is in large, lush gardens with many manicured grass, trees and flowers and beautiful fountains. It looks like something that can only be dreamt about and shows how he is privileged and unaware of the real world. Once he leaves his home which towers above the working class of people the audience sees him in a place that is crowed with massive machinery. It is very dark and dreary, the complete opposite of the place he had just come from.

Freder starts the movie in a crisp white outfit with puffy pants. His clothing makes him look like a naïve child with women in very detailed and intricate dresses surrounding him. It shows the wealth he has and pride taken in their appearance. The fact that he is the only character in white in the whole movie makes him stand out. The color white usually represents purity and innocence, which is how his character is portrayed in the beginning. Once he trades places with one of the workers his innocence leaves him as he is now in all black. All of the workers are dressed in all black jumpsuits that take away their identity. Having them all be dressed the same way shows how the rulers of the metropolis oppress them. They are viewed more as one than individual people. The Machine Man outfit is very key to the whole idea of the movie. It represented the technological advances in the world that are a main reason for the coming of the apocalypse. The idea of this robot is something new to the audience of the time of the film.

 

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

In the film Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, we first meet the character of Cesare at the carnival when Dr. Caligari wakes him after twenty three years. He opens the cabinet where he is asleep and we see a man dressed in all black with a stark white face and black circle around his eyes and black lipstick. The audience is first is presented with the horror that is to come throughout the rest of the film.

In silent films, such as Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the director must use the sets, costumes, and make-up to convey many of the personalities and emotions of the characters. The sets in this film are very bizarre and eerie with the many shadows which are painted directly on to the set, which looked like theater stage. The sizes of the props on the stage were very exaggerated. When the clerk and the police were sitting at desks, they were significantly smaller, having to climb up the chair to actually sit on it. The background of the town during the carnival seemed much smaller than it would have been in actuality. Many of the “props” like fliers were painted right on to the set, rather than having the tangible item. The characteristics of the sets brings the audience into the strangeness of the story of which they are watching.

The costumes and make-up, like the sets, are very exaggerated. Around the eyes of some of the characters there is very thick black circles which draws the attention of the viewer. The contrast between the painted white faces and the black around their eyes accentuate the feelings of the characters because the viewer is focusing on the eyes and what they are saying about the character. The costumes are used to describe the traits of the characters. Jane was dressed in a white, flowing gown that showed her innocence while Dr. Caligari’s cape, top hat and mesmerizing  glasses alluded to his twisted villainy. The sets, costumes, and makeup help the audience understand the context of the film.

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