Great Britain Retro Film Festival – Part 2

Josip Knezevic

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

What if the end of the world could be started by the push of a button?

05 May - GBRFF P2 - Dr Strangelove

When it comes to political satires, you can hardly beat Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove; a hilarious yet tense drama that pokes fun at its subject matter and isn’t shy to delve into its underlying seriousness.

Peter Sellers puts on a masterclass of acting by dwelling into three characters; Captain Mandrake, President Muffley and Dr Strangelove, with the latter being his finest. The film explores the predicament facing the U.S President who is tasked with stopping a madman from unleashing a thermal nuclear war on Russia. The trick here being that the madman is in turn a general within the Royal Air Force who has gone insane with conspiracy theories against the communist regime. It’s the Cold War that could have been, and one that never ceases to make you smile.

No matter how insane or convoluted the plot becomes, Dr Strangelove remains believable as it has deep seated relevance. Nuclear war was almost a reality, and today, it is still a possibility. What makes the film brilliant, however, is the subtle, yet hilarious undertones throughout. You can’t help but smile at the escalation of each disastrous situation, even as the circumstances of the characters deteriorate each time.

Whilst it might not make everyone burst out laughing in comparison to traditional comedies , Kubrick’s film is in a class of its own. It’s sharp, witty, and rooted in a fully realised fictional world that could still be our future.

Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is screening at Windsor Cinemas on May 25. 

Zachary Cruz-Tan

A Passage to India (1984)

David Lean entertains, and provokes thought with his last film of a career that’s literally spanned the globe.

05 May - GBRFF P2 - Passage to India

Misunderstanding is at the heart of David Lean’s final film, A Passage to India, a parable that’s vast, but deeply intimate in the way it addresses – and sometimes casts aside – the firmly-rooted prejudice that poisoned the uneasy Anglo-Indian relationship of the 1800s and early 1900s in India. It is a movie about looking, listening, sympathising, believing. That’s hard to do when neither side of the relationship is willing to trust the other.

The success of A Passage to India is founded on the tension between the two races, but its scope is small; at least by David Lean standards. Lean’s idea of a movie was not about dialogue, character or plot, but about the imagery. The way the movie looked and felt; its energy. To him, the story lay within the pictures. In the buzzing humidity of The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for example. Or in the heat of the sun in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).  A Passage to India is minute in comparison, but its themes are no less expansive.

Peter O’Toole was Lean’s first choice to play Richard Fielding, the romantic hero of the English side, but the part shifted to James Fox instead. Alec Guinness makes several Obi-Wan Kenobi appearances as the serenely prescient Professor Godbole. All of the characters are humanistic; none of them are played falsely. They are a powerful testament to Lean’s almost supernatural ability to set his movies in the furthest corners of the globe and still makes us care deeply about the tiny little people that inhabit them. A Passage to India may not be Lawrence of Arabia, but it’s as fine a swansong as any director could wish for.

A Passage to India screens at Windsor Cinemas on May 24

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, MGM Home Entertainment/Chapel Distribution/Greater Union Distribution


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