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Dr. Strangelove, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 332

Essay

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is Stanley Kubrick’s only comedic film and centers around an attempt to stop a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union after an unhinged general orders bombs be dropped on the Soviet Union.  One of the things Kubrick is known for is highly imaginative visual design.  In Dr. Strangelove, this imaginative design is prominent throughout the film and can be seen in the war room scenes.

One of the most striking things about these war room scenes is how highly they appear to be influenced by German Expressionism.  German Expressionism often utilized artificial landscapes and scenery that reflected feelings of paranoia and unease.  In the war room, this is achieved through the juxtaposition of architectural shapes.  For example, the war room’s table and central lighting is shaped like a circle or oval and is surrounded by angular shapes and designs.  Even the encircling lighting is comprised up a series of rectangular lights.  Additionally, the maps on the walls of the war room have angular lines, which further adds to the tone of confusion of the film.

The lighting in the war room is also designed to create tension and unease.  Kubrick’s set design is able to capture this feeling through chiaroscuro; throughout the war room scenes, lighting is kept to a minimum and focused only on the individuals in the scene.  The background of these scenes is not lit as brightly, which adds an air of mystery to the dealings that occur in the war room.  Lighting is also creatively used to create sharp angles and add to the distortion that is created through the actual scenery.  Through creative lighting, additional architectural shapes are introduced into the scenes.

Through imaginative set design and lighting, Kubrick is able to capture the unease often found in German Expressionist films and is able to translate and update feelings of paranoia and anxiety to fit contemporary concerns of a nuclear attack.

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