JOSEPH E. from WOODHAVEN, MI Reviewed on 9/8/2012...
A GOOD CLASSIC COMEDY/DRAMA.
SPECIAL EDITION HAS A LOT OF BEHIND THE SCENES INFORMATION ABOUT THE MAKING OF THIS MOVIE.
WORTH WATCHING AGAIN.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
The Best Movie Of All Time - Or, Rather, About 80% Thereof
Marc-David Jacobs | Portland, Oregon, United States of America | 11/10/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I doubt that you could imagine how much it would pain me to give a single-star rating to an edition of the film I consider to be the singular greatest contribution to the motion picture. However, the new "40th Anniversary" edition of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is, unquestionably, requiring of such a rating. Why?, you ask.
Because about fifteen to twenty percent of the screen image has been removed!!!
If you take a look, you will see that this new "Special" edition of Dr. Strangelove is presented in anamorphic widescreen, with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This, as you can find from examining older editions of the film, is the first time the film has ever been presented in such a manner. The reason why (and you may cross-check this with the Internet Movie Database [IMDb] or any book on Stanley Kubrick worth its salt) is because Dr. Strangelove was NOT FILMED in 1.66:1. It was technically filmed with a varying aspect ratio (the reasons for which are still not fully explicated, as far as I've seen), but, in general, it was filmed in about 1.33:1.
So, you ask, how does a film shot in 1.33:1 get presented in 1.66:1? Did someone return to the original negative and uncover material previously hidden from sight, lost on every print and VHS, Beta, laserdisc and DVD copy heretofore released?
They simply cut off the top and bottom of the screen!!!
Such things are not unprecedented. An extremely similar case is the so-called "panoramic" Gone With The Wind. The film, made in 1939 (before there was anything BUT 1.33:1, the "Academy" aspect ratio), when released in the Panavision/Technorama age of the mid-1960's was similar chopped and changed to magically become 2.35:1. This edition was released on video and DVD a few times before, finally, it was restored to its original 1.33:1 glory.
Stanley Kubrick was absolutely notorious for his perfectionism and auteur status in the film industry, and I cannot believe that a company proposing to release a definitive "Special" edition of his greatest masterpiece would be so heartless as to unnecessarily delete a good portion of the screen.
Please avoid this new, bastardized Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. While the few new extras thereon are of interest, they can easily be seen via rental from the local video store, as suplemental to the last "Special Edition" of the DVD (which, incidentally, clearly states on the back that it is "Presented in the original aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1".
Thank you, Marc-David Jacobs
P.S. For those of you interested in seeing the terrible editing job for yourselves, feel free to go out and rent the new edition and the previous edition and go to seven minutes and forty-eight seconds, which is the extreme tight shot of the B-52's CRM-114 decoder book. As you will see, an entire line of text on the top, and about one-and-a-half on the bottom are not completely missing."
A black comic masterpiece. A vast monumental farce.
M. Hickey | 08/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...Kubrik masterminded Dr. Strangelove, loosely basing the movie upon the book "Red Alert" (the book is a completely serious Cold War nuclear war scenario, but Strangelove is a complete and total farce). "Strangelove" came out a year or two after the Cuban October missile crisis, a year after US President John Kennedy was assassinated as well as 2 other contemporaneous films, the brilliant and paranoid "The Manchurian Candidate" and the serious treatment of the same book, "Fail Safe."Kubrik originally set out to do a serious treatment of the book. But Kubrik found as he tried to develop the screenplay that he kept running into scenes that he ended up writing as satire. Recognizing the challenge, Kubrik enlisted the talents of one of the best comedic screenwriters in Hollywood, Terry Southern, to do the screenplay. Casting the film was part genius and part hit-and-miss happy accident. ... Somehow Slim Pickens' name came up and Pickens accepted the role of the B-52 bomber pilot. Even more ironic yet, Slim Pickens was more conservative than Dan Blocker, but Pickens never caught on during the film's production that Dr. Strangelove was a comedy, much less a satire and a farce unsympathetic to the official propaganda of the cold war.In of itself, it was a comic master stroke telling Pickens play the role seriously. Pickens was apparently no great wit, so Kubrik was able to keep Pickens completely unaware that Pickens was actually playing in a comedy, not a serious war movie (one can only assume that the humor of the situation was not lost on the other cast members, including James Earl Jones who played Capt. Kong's bombardier.. "Don't tell Slim this is all a big joke, we have to let him think this is a real war movie." ). Other than Peter Sellers' roles, George C. Scott (later in "Patton") and Sterling Hayden delivered memorable performances. Both were obviously instructed to play their roles "over the top." Kubrik instructed Scott to overact the role of the cigar-smoking, gut-slapping, martini-drinking & womanizing General Buck Turgidson (get it? Turgid-son?). In the scene in the war room where Turgidson exuberantly proclaims the spectacle of a B-52 bomber evading radar by hedge-hopping, Kubrik instructed George C. Scott to deliberately overact the part. Kubrik had Scott re-take the scene several times, asking Scott to make it even more over-the-top than before. On the last take of that scene, Scott practically performed it as a burlesque parody, which was of course, the final take that Kubrik actually used.Sterling Hayden delivered a brilliant performance as the psychotic Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, the Air Force general who unilaterally orders the nuclear strike against the USSR. The confusion of Cold War paranoia, paranoid psychosis and false sexual power in Hayden's scenes is the blackest of black satire. Totally over the top, ludicrous and frightenlingly possible (what if one of your top military brass really went insane and over-rode all the safe-guards against nuclear war?). The insane babblings of General Ripper set the film's direction and act as its centerpiece, delivering both Kubrik's satire of anti-communist propaganda and the air of impossible odds for the rest of the film's characters to overcome that they might somehow avert doomsday.Peter Seller's performances as the President, the British officer and Dr. Strangelove (a left-over Nazi scientist) are memorable, Sellers delivers the title role as the deranged wheelchair-bound Nazi scientist who suffers from involuntary palsied "Seig Hiels!" in his right arm. Again sex is the real underlying motive to yet another character and the opportunities for a sexually prodigious post-apocalyptic eugenic world brings the deranged Strangelove to a frenzied outburst of libidinal energy: "Mein Fuhrer! I can vwalk!" But as much as I enjoy Sellers' roles, they seem overshadowed by the rest of the film's characters. P>It comes probably of no surprise that the U.S. Air Force refused to assist Kubrik in shooting the movie. Having to choice, Kubrik had to resort to mocking up the B-52 flying scenes and bomber interior cabin scenes as best he could (the bomber interior was apparently such a good replica of the real thing that the FBI launched an investigation into who gave Kubrik such a detailed layout of a B-52's flight deck). Appropriately, the exterior B-52 flying scenes hold a comic flaw if you look closely enough: In one scene, as the damaged bomber hedge-hops across the Siberian taiga (northern boreal forest), you can see that the underlying shadow of the plane is actually that of a four-engine propellor aircraft and doesn't match the profile of the overlaid B-52 model.Suffice it to say, when the movie came out, it was not universally received or even widely understood. It was drummed by political commentators and movie reviewers who found it to be tasteless and sophomoric. The studio was very concerned about the potential a negative backlash from its release (consider that in the same year, the Manchurian Candidate was withdrawn from theaters after Kennedy was assassinated). An internal memo described Dr. Strangelove as "a huge, sick malefic joke" and questioned the wisdom of even releasing the movie at all. After all, the movie starts off with B-52's and tanker planes copulating during mid-flight refuelings, displays Air Force "Peace is Our Profession" billboards in the midst of a fire fight between the US Army and Air Force security, depicts two Air Force generals as complete sex-obsessed baffoons, one a psychotic and the other a braying ass, delivers a deranged Nazi scientist and finally a cowboy pilot bucking the biggest phallic bronco of his career (never mind blowing up the world).I can think of few other films whose film makers so defied convention and created a story that really turned conventional wisdom on its head. Dr. Strangelove keeps coming at you as one outrageous scene after another, interspersed with segments of complete straight-faced dead-pan, piling them all on until the fateful end. When Pickins died in 1983, CBS news anchor Dan Rather delivered the obituary replete with the out take of Pickins riding the bomb (Perhaps DeForest Kelley topped that and made good on his threat to have "He's dead, Jim" engraved on his tombstone....). There are some things you just can't live down: Being the face that gets a great closing falling scene that leads to the end of all life on Earth happens to be one of those things. Poor Slim, he's probably suffering in a purgatory of a Liberal Methodist heaven.In closing, I have to agree with that long-forgotten studio executive who wrote in the memo: Dr. Strangelove *IS* a huge, sick malefic joke. But it is one of the finest huge, sick malefic jokes ever created, and stands as a film masterpiece. Those who extoll the virtues of this fil"
M. Hickey | California, USA | 10/31/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Regarding the review cited as the "most helpful critical review," in which the main criticism is that the aspect-ratio of this DVD is 1.66 throughout instead of "variable" (some shots 1.33, some 1.66), I'd like to put to rest the unfortunate idea that Kubrick ever intended this film to be seen with a "variable aspect ratio." Yes, the film was photographed that way; but no, it was not meant to be seen that way. Let me explain: "Variable aspect-ratio" seems to be a term invented to market an early DVD release of "Dr. Strangelove." The term has no meaning in the film industry because no film has ever been released that way (except for that misguided "Strangelove" DVD -- a mistake which has now been corrected). Much of "Dr. Stangelove" was photographed with no matte in the camera, thus exposing the entire 1.33 film frame. Many shots, however, were filmed with a 1.66 matte in the camera, reflecting Kubrick's intention to release the film to theaters in 1.66. Therefore, if you transfer this movie to tape using an unmatted film element, and you take the whole 1.33 frame for every shot, the aspect ratio will vary from 1.33 (shots filmed with no matte in the camera) to 1.66 (shots filmed with a 1.66 matte). But this is obviously not the way any movie was ever intended to be seen, with the shape of the frame randomly bouncing around from shot to shot for no reason. So why shoot it that way? Because Kubrick (and his cameraman) knew that the theatrical printing negative, and therefore every release print sent to theaters, would have the 1.66 matte printed-in from start to finish, making the entire film 1.66 for theatrical presentation. Is it possible Kubrick shot it "variable" so that the eventual 1.33 DVD release could have a meandering frame-line? I know Kubrick was smart, but it's unlikely he was thinking of the DVD release in 1964. In those days, movies were made for theaters; televised movies were mainly 16mm prints, edited for time and sold in syndication. The TV market as it existed in 1964 did not influence any film director's compositions. The theatrical release was all that mattered; and the theatrical release of "Dr. Strangelove" was 1.66. All of it. Therefore, if one wants to see this film the way Kubrick meant it to be seen (and a new, matted 35mm print is not available), the film-to-tape transfer must recreate the matted 1.66 theatrical aspect-ratio throughout -- which is what this DVD does (thank you, Sony Home Video). I oversaw film restorations for a major Hollywood film studio for more than a decade, so I know the subject of aspect ratios pretty well. Hope this info is helpful."
Stop worrying and love this movie
Joel R. Bryan | Athens, Georgia United States | 01/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Could a sane man initiate global mass-destruction? Can any political system that would destroy all life on earth as it valediction claim the moral high ground, now that we've entered a murder-suicide pact so absolute it even involves all future generations of life on earth? Liberalism, conservatism, capitalism, communism- they all become moot in the face of extinction. So we have "Dr. Strangelove," the movie that dares point out how our drive to destroy ourselves just might be some sort of twisted outgrowth of our libido. Hardly a moment goes by in this film without sexual text or context. Even the two bombs in the B-52 (named by its crew, "Leper Colony") are scribbled with what were then considered come-on lines. Deranged Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) has sent his air wing into the Soviet Union because he felt a "loss of essence" during the "physical act of love," and is certain this is caused by flouridated water. Peter Sellars plays three roles, wimpy President Muffley, RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and the title character, the bizarre, wheelchair-bound not-so-former Nazi advisor to the President. The awesome George C. Scott turns in a marvelous performance as Gen. Buck Turgidson, who has difficulty hiding his enthusiasm for Ripper's plan. But the revelation here is Hayden (veteran of many a manly role), playing a character so concerned with losing his virility, he sets the world on course for an explosive and very final climax. Hayden's performance is a masterpiece of subtle derangement- no drooling or chewing the scenary. Watch for Sellar's reaction when he realizes Hayden's burly, muscular symbol of American power, in his medal-bejeweled Air Force uniform, is completely, irretrievably round the bend. It's a moment of pure, comic horror. Sellars' characterization of Dr. Strangelove is the epitome of the post-nuclear man as monster. He's completely comfortable, almost gleeful, when talking about mass-murder as an abstraction and a political expediency. Beautifully filmed in black and white (which gives it a certain Cold War veracity) and featuring some impressive sets and effective, documentary-style combat footage, "Dr. Strangelove" is one of Stanley Kubrick's finest films, uncompromising as it condemns hubris and macho posturing on all sides. And it does it with a weapon hopefully more effective in the long run than A-bombs and H-bombs. Humor. Watch for Slim Pickens as twangy-voiced Maj. "King" Kong: his final scene has become iconic, and will remain in your mind for days. This movie also features James Earl Jones' movie debut, and yes, even then he had that impressive voice."
Get the earlier DVD version
AH-1Z | Sacramento, CA USA | 11/12/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great move, a classic. However, this version is not recommended. Instead get the earlier "Special Edition" release, also available from Amazon. I make this recommendation for three reasons.
First, it's less expensive and you still get a good print with most of the extra features.
Second, Dr. Strangelove was not filmed at a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. While "Letterboxing" or a Widescreen presentation will give you more of the image than the TV screen shaped 1.33:1 ratio, it will do so only if the movie was originally filmed at a wider ratio. If it was filmed at the 1.33 ratio and you present it in a wider ratio, the only way to do that withou having the image seem distorted is to cut off part of the top and bottom of the picture. That's what was done for this release, a major mistake.
Third, one of the things you're paying for is an interview with Robert McNamara. For those of you who are too young to know, he was about the worst Secretary of Defense the country ever had. He kept making wrong calls after wrong calls, misreading the Soviet Union, creating tension when it was unecessary, building weapns that weren't needed and blocking ones that worked if they didn't suit him and was the architect of the disasterous strategy of how we fought the Vietnam War that needlessly prolonged the conflict and was responsible for tens of thoushands of deaths on both sides (ie don't be concerned about military necessity or sensiblity, just keep track of the "body count" to determine effectiveness; Don't attack enemy missile sites while they're under construction, wait until they have been finished and are firing and blowing planes out of the sky). This was a man who had no concern about people or what was happening, but simply looked at the War as a way to feed his ego. In the last 10 years he has been trying to rehabilitate himself by pretending that he was really against the war at the same time as he was micromanaging it.
What relevance does this have to this review? Simply that Robert McNamara is not qualified to comment on what was going on in the Cold War at the time because he was is more concerned with his "legacy" than telling it like it was. So, why waste your money paying for a commentary by him? Get the previous "Special Edition of this superb movie. You lose nothing and save some money."