821 Dr. Strangelove

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Narshty
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821 Dr. Strangelove

#1 Post by Narshty » Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:14 am

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

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Stanley Kubrick's painfully funny take on Cold War anxiety is without a doubt one of the fiercest satires of human folly ever to come out of Hollywood. The matchless shape-shifter Peter Sellers plays three wildly different roles: Air Force Captain Lionel Mandrake, timidly trying to stop a nuclear attack on the USSR ordered by an unbalanced general (Sterling Hayden); the ineffectual and perpetually dumbfounded President Merkin Muffley, who must deliver the very bad news to the Soviet premier; and the titular Strangelove himself, a wheelchair-bound presidential adviser with a Nazi past. Finding improbable hilarity in nearly every unimaginable scenario, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a genuinely subversive masterpiece that officially announced Kubrick as an unparalleled stylist and pitch-black ironist.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• Restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack
• New interviews with Stanley Kubrick scholars Mick Broderick and Rodney Hill; archivist Richard Daniels; cinematographer and camera innovator Joe Dunton; camera operator Kelvin Pike; and David George, son of Peter George, on whose novel Red Alert the film is based
• Excerpts from a 1965 audio interview with Kubrick, conducted by Jeremy Bernstein
• Four short documentaries from 2000, about the making of the film, the sociopolitical climate of the period, the work of actor Peter Sellers, and the artistry of Kubrick
• Interviews from 1963 with Sellers and actor George C. Scott
• Excerpt from a 1980 interview with Sellers from NBC's Today show
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by scholar David Bromwich and a 1962 article by screenwriter Terry Southern on the making of the film

rwaits
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#2 Post by rwaits » Wed Apr 26, 2006 9:53 pm

Narshty wrote:A mere 17 months after my last post, and I've got hold of this. This is the most radically improved new transfer I think I've ever seen - I liked Dr. Strangelove only to an extent before and got this version mainly because it was a cheap secondhand copy.

First off, Kubrick was a utter moron in insisting on the previous 1.33:1 home video presentations because he managed to single-handedly destroy the entire visual design of his own film. The 1.66:1 framing has, at a stroke, restored the focus and symmetry of shot after shot after shot. New details are again correctly emphasised within the frame - the top of a file that George C. Scott is holding in his initial meeting with the President in the War Room entitled "WORLD TARGETS ON MEGADEATHS" for example.

The fact that the contrast is no longer wildly out of control reveals new subtleties and details in the photography. The use of light throughout the film is remarkable; earlier transfers made it look as if the interiors were all lit with 100W bulbs hanging from the ceiling.

The precise design of Strangelove's visuals, easily as meticulous and painstaking as anything else in the Kubrick canon, has at last been restored and renders the film as a whole greatly more compelling. It's a revelation.
I have always been totally confused about the intended aspect for this film. So are you saying that, back in 1961, Kubrick's intention was for it to be shown in 1:66? Why the discrepancies throughout the years?

It interests me that you say Kubrick wanted the home version to be fullscreen--I had never heard that before. Do you have any idea why that was his wish??

stroszeck
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#3 Post by stroszeck » Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:29 am

I'm not sure about the details of Kubrick's decision (or lack thereof), but yes, I too was not a huge fan of Strangelove but have rediscovered the film through the newer edition which I bought immediately after watching it reluctantly once again. It seems so much more crisp and....."open" or expanded visually somehow - but I haven't seen it again since I bought it so I can get into specifics.

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Gregory
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#4 Post by Gregory » Thu Apr 27, 2006 3:38 am

As a preliminary, whatever I say on this topic, I don't take it to be of enormous significance in the grand scheme of things. The films looks acceptable either with the variable ratios or with the constant 1.66:1. It happens that the DVD employing the latter has a little bit better transfer. There may also be some compositions that improve, such as the example Narshty mentioned. I see it as a kind of trade off, in some ways.

Kubrick composed the film for either 1.66:1 or 1.33:1, depending on the scene. As it turned out, it was matted theatrically to either a consistent 1.66:1 or even 1.85:1. According to Criterion, Kubrick was rather disappointed by both of these. When they worked with him on the laserdisc he was adamant that it had to be as close to perfect in every way, including variable aspect ratios, and they respected what he said had been his vision from the start with respect to this point. It's possible Columbia Tri-Star was feeling some pressure to release an anamorphically enhanced special edition and thus did so with their 40th Anniversary release. This covered up some details Kubrick went to great pains to capture, such as many of the features designed for the war room set.
Some fans of the film protested, but most reviews of the DVD I read accepted this deviation from Kubrick's wishes. The only real reason I recall being offered by reviewers in support of this decision was that it represented the original theatrical ratio, as if preserving the "theatrical experience" was the ultimate good, even when it violated the director's wishes. Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant) even went so far as to attribute Criterion's agreement with Kubrick to confusion and saying that the company's statement of Kubrick's desire for changing ratios was "convenient baloney." Convenient to what end, messing with viewers' heads? Many reviews cast obscure doubts on Criterion's justification for the changing ratios, but until anyone can produce actual evidence that this did not represent Kubrick's wishes I'm inclined to believe what they say. Why would they attribute an invented preference to Kubrick (that probably meant more work for them) in order to violate his actual preference? I suspect that in some cases people have rationalized something that would look better on their widescreen systems.

Narshty
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#5 Post by Narshty » Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:18 am

The improvements as I see them can best be seen in this comparison. Scroll down to the second set of (correctly resized) captures and note the third one with Peter Sellers on the sofa. On the old transfer, you've got this ugly, harsh contrast and you're as focused on the light coming from the door on the right as Sellers himself. On the new 1.66:1 transfer, the distracting door glare is no longer an issue with the controlled contrast, and the emphasis is properly on Sellers once more.

I realise that's only one example, but the effect the masking and new contrast has on the transfer is still remarkable. It makes the film all the more engaging, now one isn't distracted with fuzzy black lines at the top and bottom of the picture that keep disappearing and reappearing and miles of useless headroom in shot after shot.

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Gregory
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#6 Post by Gregory » Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:52 pm

I see what you mean. Personally, the high contrast on the old release didn't bother me because it was pretty much evened out by my old LCD projector.

By the way, I hadn't noticed that the recent question about the aspect ratios could be considered answered by the information already in the thread. I had posted some of it myself back when the 40th Anniversary DVD came out, and didn't reread the thread just now. I'm sorry to have repeated myself like that.

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Theodore R. Stockton
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821 Dr. Strangelove

#7 Post by Theodore R. Stockton » Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:16 pm

I'm trying to help a friend on a report but the teacher requires "credible sources" so I need names/links to good books and articles about the Freudian and sexual subtext of Dr. Strangelove. any help would be appreciated.

thanks

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gubbelsj
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Freudian based articles on Dr. Strangelove

#8 Post by gubbelsj » Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:06 pm

Robert Kolker's book A Cinema of Loneliness features a long article on Kubrick and focuses on Strangelove, pp 120-129. He discusses a number of things sexual, from Pres. Merkin Muffley's "vulgar name" to Jack D. Ripper's radical misunderstanding of post-coital relaxation (stressing the fact that Ripper is not impotent). Sexuality as necrophilia, patriarchal world of auto-castration, all that good stuff. But I'm not sure if the chapter has any web links. The book can be found in plenty of libraries, though (not sure how much time you & your friend have).

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tryavna
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#9 Post by tryavna » Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:13 pm

For a somewhat dumbed-down version of the same stuff Gubbelsj is citing, you might also direct your friend to the entry on Strangelove in Danny Peary's Alternate Oscars. Not scholarly by any means, but a nice two-page distillation of the major Freudian readings of the film.

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Matt
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#10 Post by Matt » Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:09 pm

I just searched 5 academic databases (Academic Search Premier, MLA International Bibliography, ProQuest, Art Index, and Film/Literature Index) for you and came up with nothing. Sorry. Though I can't imagine it would be all that difficult to do your own Freudian analysis of the film. Just do what Marian Keane would do and point out all the phalluses in the film.

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Gregory
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#11 Post by Gregory » Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:53 pm

The film is filled with sexual jokes and references. This article discusses some of them: "Dr. Strangelove" and Erotic Displacement, George W. Linden Journal of Aesthetic Education. Vol. 11, No. 1 (Jan., 1977), pp. 63-83.

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Gordon
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#12 Post by Gordon » Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:39 am

gubbelsj wrote:Robert Kolker's A Cinema of Loneliness
Quality book.

The 1988 edition (since updated in 2000) is available used at Amazon for $1.00:

A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick, Scorsese, Spielberg, Altman

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Theodore R. Stockton
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#13 Post by Theodore R. Stockton » Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:07 pm

Thanks, guys. That should help because it requires published sources, so I just can't tell them things.

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dx23
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#14 Post by dx23 » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:24 pm

From dvdtimes.co.uk:
Dr. Strangelove (US BD) in June
25-01-2009 20:41 | 190 views | Dave Foster
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have announced the US Blu-ray Disc release of Dr. Strangelove (45th Anniversary Edition) on 16th June 2009. Stanley Kubrick directs this classic dark comedy which features Peter Sellers (in three roles) in the midst of impending nuclear war.

Features include:

* 1080P 1.66:1 Widescreen
* English and French 5.1
* English Mono
* English and French subtitles
* The Cold Facts Graphics-in-Picture/Picture-in-Picture Track (BD Exclusive)
* An Interview with Robert McNamara
* Best Sellers: Peter Sellers Remembered
* Inside the Making of Dr. Strangelove
* Inside: Dr. Strangelove
* No Fighting in the War Room or: Dr. Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat
* The Art of Stanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove

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domino harvey
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#15 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:29 pm

Nice to hear of a Blu-ray that keeps the 1.66

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Person
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#16 Post by Person » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:17 am

domino harvey wrote:Nice to hear of a Blu-ray that keeps the 1.66
Word. It's also good to know that Sony are savvy enough to roll out vintage B&W films on Blu. Lawrence of Arabia and an SE of Polanski's The Tragedy of Macbeth top my list for Sony Blu-Ray releases.

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Peacock
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#17 Post by Peacock » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:31 am

no alternative ending? or does that not exist anywhere?

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denti alligator
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#18 Post by denti alligator » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:11 am

domino harvey wrote:Nice to hear of a Blu-ray that keeps the 1.66
It's not that rare: even United's Bond titles are 1.66.

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#19 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:50 pm

Peacock wrote:no alternative ending? or does that not exist anywhere?
It exists, but it probably won't be released.

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kaujot
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#20 Post by kaujot » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:11 pm

I thought they didn't film the pie fight.

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tavernier
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#21 Post by tavernier » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:19 pm

They definitely shot it:

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kaujot
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#22 Post by kaujot » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:06 pm

Most excellent. Very glad I was wrong! :)

Jameson281
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#23 Post by Jameson281 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:35 am

Magic Hate Ball wrote:
Peacock wrote:no alternative ending? or does that not exist anywhere?
It exists, but it probably won't be released.
Didn't Kubrick's family have all trims and outs destroyed shortly after his death, in accordance with his wishes? I thought I read that somewhere.

Rev.Powell
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Re: Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Edition

#24 Post by Rev.Powell » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:07 am

The custard pie footage is held either by the BFI or the National Film and Television Archive; the National Film Theatre screened it after the showings of Doctor Strangelove during the big Kubrick retrospective in 1999. Or so I'm told. Didn't go myself.

greggster59
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Dr. Strangelove 45th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray

#25 Post by greggster59 » Sat May 30, 2009 9:11 am

Blu-ray review at Digital Bits. Scroll down past Ghostbusters review.

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