The voice-over describing Operation Dropkick creates situational irony with the scene immediately succeeding it. We are told that a patrol of bombers are kept on alert, airborne for 24 hours a day to safeguard against a nuclear attack, and we expect to find a flurry of activity within the bomber. Instead, we are shown a crew that is bored, distracted, and never expecting to have to take any real military action. This scene points to the absurd and contradictory nature of a “cold” war: though the bomber is armed with the deadliest weapon known to man, and everyone should be afraid of the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, the lack of active warfare numbs those involved to the gravity of their situation and the “war” they are fighting.
This slogan appears on a poster behind General Ripper as he orders a nuclear attack, and is emblazoned across a sign at Burpelson Air Force Base as the gunfight proceeds between the Burpleson soldiers and the Army unit sent to take over the base. The paradox is immediately obvious to the audience. This is an example of dramatic irony—the military believes its policies exist to promote peace, and so does much of the American public, when in fact we see these policies doing just the opposite. It can also be seen as a commentary on the larger manipulation of language by politicians and the military to alleviate the anxiety of war by using more positive synonyms for things like death, annihilation and mass murder.
This quote from Dr. Strangelove made it onto the list of the most memorable movie quotes in the first 100 years of Hollywood (compiled by the American Film Institute), and stands as the ultimate expression of verbal irony in the film. The admonition comes from the President of the United States and is directed to Turgidson and the Soviet ambassador, who are wrestling within the confines of the underground bunker from which US military and political leaders are attempting to resolve the nuclear crisis.
Col. “Bat” Guano’s almost inconceivably oblivious threat to Col. Lionel Mandrake is another great example of irony—in this case, dramatic irony. While Mandrake is feverishly trying to get enough change to make a long-distance phone call to Washington to deliver the recall code, Col. Guano is far more concerned with the destruction of property owned by the Coca-Cola Company. Col. Guano is unaware of the nuclear crisis and its consequences, and the audience's understanding of this issue puts his odd statement in perspective.
On the phone with his mistress (and secretary), Buck Turgidson is satirized as a sexist buffoon: he tells her that he “deeply respects her as a human being,” and goes on to say “some day, I am going to make you Mrs. Buck Turgidson.” This is a moment of dramatic irony—Turgidson believes he is being respectful to Miss Scott, without realizing the sexism in his words.
On the B-52, no one on the crew can believe that they have been issued a go-code to drop their nuclear bombs, and some think it might be a test of some kind. Major Kong says that he knows General Ripper would not issue the go-code unless Washington D.C. and several other cities had already been taken out by a Soviet nuclear strike. The audience, however, knows that nothing of the sort has happened. The film is characterized by this kind of dramatic irony, in which the audience consistently knows things that the characters in the film do not realize about their situation.
President Muffley tells the Soviet Premier to focus all of his defenses on the bomber's primary and secondary targets, without realizing that the plane has switched targets because of fuel loss. This is another example of the film's constant dramatic irony, in which the audience knows things that the characters in the film do not realize about their situation.
Satire in Dr. StrangeLove?
Dr. StrangeLove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1964. "Dr. StrangeLove" is a Cold War suspense comedy that depicts the extreme tensions felt by the American government and public regarding the potential for nuclear war. Roger Ebert, a critic wrote that this "cold war satireÐ'...opened with the force of a bucketful of cold water, right in the face". In his review Ebert's contemplates the use and effectiveness of satire in Kubrick's film.
Critically acclaimed, "Dr. StrangeLove" uses satire to "reduce nuclear annihilation to the level of a very serious social gaffe" according to Ebert. The poking fun and mockery of human idiocy or vice in a literary work is satire. This mockery of human idiocy is applied flawlessly to the film to emphasize the significance of the Cold War anxiety. The review by Ebert announces that the film "had gotten away with something", he adds to that point by describing the high tensions felt between the two national party's of America; pointing out the blatant attack of the film on the circumstances of the 1960's.
The execution of parody and use of wit seems to have impressed Ebert. He glowingly describes incidents where the satirical theme is palpable, such as the instance with Mandrake the British attachÐ"©. After General Ripper has committed suicide, Mandrake finds the code to recall the planes, but does not have the correct amount of change to dial on a pay phone and save the world. The continuation of all life on Earth was dependent upon that precise phone call; while all that the audience is capable of as Mandrake flusters is shake their heads and smile. Another distinct situation of foolishness identified by Ebert was the series of conversations between the Russian premier and the U.S. president. As President
Martin calls Dimitri, the Russian premier; the level of intensity in the war room is at a boiling point, until the Russian ambassador mentions that Dimitri is intoxicated by alcohol, and in the company of women. As the scene continues, Martin downsizes the point of nuclear annihilation to minuscule
importance, arguing over who is more sorry, Dimitri or himself. Ebert also mentions the verbal repartee regarding the autodestruct mechanism, when it destroyed itself, or the idea of no fighting in the confines of the war room.
Although, Ebert succinctly illustrates the most encompassing and plain sighted instances of satire and humor there are several more clear depictions of the extensive use of satire within the film. Ebert fails to comment on the sign on General Ripper's military base, "Peace is our Profession". A full four second still frame of the massive billboard is included during a dogfight between two American troops. The irony of men who believe in the same causes firing upon each other with the intentions of killing each other underneath such a sign is amazing. This situation is prefaced by General Ripper declaring to his troops to "shoot first and ask later" a line that declares the amount of fear and enmity barefaced in General Ripper and his men. In addition to the serious portrayal of satire a humorous episode was the evaluation of the military survival kit by Maj. Kong. As he opens the U.S. ration pack and lists his supplies in case of the commonly survived accident of a plane crash with three nuclear missiles. He is provided with items such as lipstick, nylon stockings, and several packs of chewing gum. The reaction was priceless in Major Kong's eyes, a "fella could have a good week in Vegas with all this stuff". The entire scenario was amusing, because there seems to be absolutely no need for any male military personnel to be rationed lipstick and chewing gum in their survival kit. This clear and observable