The film is set in the middle of the Cold War and is freely based on the novel Red Alert (‘1958) by Peter George.
Just an incipit to the story: I won’t tell you much so as not to deprive you of the pleasure of being surprised in every frame.
Jack D. Ripper is a general of the American Army who is part of the strategic command of the air force. General Ripper transmits to the 34 bombers B-52, perpetually in flight because of the nuclear deterrence imposed by the Cold War, the order to execute the “R” plan.
The “R” plan is about the reaction to the nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.
The aircrew welcomes the order with scepticism but, after confirmation by the headquarters, they have no choice but to head for their respective objectives.
The aircrew doesn’t know the Soviet attack didn’t actually take place; Colonel Mandrake, an English Royal Air Force officer and coadjutor to General Ripper, asks the General to recall the planes.
But Ripper refuses, explaining to the Colonel that the order is his initiative.
Here I stop with the story: before discussing the key points of the movie, I invite you to watch the trailer.
Kubrick’s masterpiece, who succeeds in telling in a tragic comedy the end of humanity and the possible destruction of the entire planet.
The genius of the director is precisely in this black humour that makes the idea of death and, for this reason, bearable.
Here’s the conversation between USA President and his Soviet counterpart: both of them know that the situation is out of control and it will not be possible to avoid the catastrophe.
“I am also sorry, Dimitri. I am very sorry. All right, you are more sorry than I am, but I am too. I’m as sorry as you are, Dimitri. Don’t say that you are more sorry than I am, because I have the right to be as sorry as you are, no more and no less. We are equally sorry, okay? All right. “
The performance of Peter Sellers is exceptional: he plays in the same movie the role of the President, Colonel Mandrake and Dr Strangelove with unparalleled skill and versatility.
Is there anything else? Certainly!
The film is a mine of examples for those who want to become familiar with concepts related to game theory (deterrence, threat, assured mutual destruction, credibility, etc.).
Moreover, concerning leadership, it is possible to observe the attitude of powerful men who, faced with the death of an immense number of people, continue to think in terms of supremacy and personal advantages.
Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Shane Rimmer, Glenn Beck, Laurence Herder, Roy Stephens