Study Guide

Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove's Mechanical Arm

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Dr. Strangelove's Mechanical Arm

Strangelove has a black-gloved mechanical prosthetic arm that he can't control. The black glove belonged to Kubrick, who wore them on the set to protect his hand from the hot lights he was handling. Sellers thought it would be a great prop for Strangelove, and it also reminded him of the black-gloved mad scientist in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.

As a famous scientist in Fascist Germany, Strangelove probably had access to the latest and greatest biotech engineering guys to design his prosthetic arm. But it has a few glitches; it has a life of its own and has the tendency to fly up in a Nazi salute, or grab Strangelove menacingly.

The arm represents one of the movie's major motifs: man-made technology that escapes human control and wreaks havoc on us. Kubrick evidently thinks that's hugely ironic and incredibly funny. In the last scene in the film where Strangelove's gleefully laying out his survival-of-a-superior-race plans for humanity, he's desperately trying to control his disobedient arm while trying not to look like an idiot. He can't. It's pure genius.

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