- The Guardian
- Issue #2086
Fail Safe vs Dr Strangelove | The Same But Different
Aaron at the Movies on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FCchV4LEQZU?si=VPySsn-yil9-h9UA.
Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove were released in 1964 after the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962) and the assassination of President John F Kennedy (22 November 1963). These events had greatly impacted the American audience, who saw both films with these events in mind. It was the height of the Cold War and there was a real threat of nuclear annihilation.
Dr Strangelove, a satire based on the 1958 novel Red Alert is a Stanley Kurbrick classic. Fail Safe, based on Fail-Safe by Eugene Harvey and Burdick Wheeler, was directed by Sidney Lumet. It is a far more serious film, not seeing any comedy in the situation of atomic war. Both films have the same premise, that the US bombs the USSR which immediately retaliates causing mutual destruction.
Both films end in the annihilation of both super powers. Personally, I have always preferred Fail Safe, for its brilliant cinematography and its serious message. The documentary examines both films and gives an interesting background to why today, Kubrick’s film is well known but Lumet’s film is largely forgotten.
(Dr Strangelove, a Kubrick classic black comedy, is now streaming on SBS on demand)
The War on Democracy
Legendary Australian documentary filmmaker, John Pilger, did a series of interviews on US interventions in Latin America, in The War on Democracy (2007). Rather than spreading democracy the US undermines it, as part of its geopolitical aims to ensure that US corporations are given free reign and given total economic control of the region. The documentary begins with Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution. It looks at the 2002 attempted coup, through archival film. The highlight is an interview with Duane Clarridge, senior operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Latin American division from 1981 to 1987 and a key figure in the Iran-Contra affair, who tells Pilger the world has to get used to US invasions. A comment which sadly has not dated.
The Search for the Palace Letters
For years both the Australian government and the British monarchy colluded to keep an important piece of Australia’s recent history from public view. This documentary tells the story of historian Professor Jenny Hocking’s legal battle to uncover what the supposedly above-politics monarch and the Australian Governor General had written to each other about at the time a democratically elected government was dismissed by the Queen’s representative.