Dr. Strangelove - Scene: Guano And Mandrake

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Argument: The scene where Col. Bat Guano arrests Executive Officer Lionel Mandrake is used to dramatize the duality of “individual thought” versus “blindly following authority”, “government control” versus “individual action”. Kubrick uses Mandrake’s character to show the ineffectual actions of one man against the colossal organization of government as a whole. According to tradition, the mandrake root screams as it is pulled from the earth, causing death to anyone who heard it. Kubrick directed Mandrake’s character to be a desperate individual trying to be heard and, if believed, could save lives, and if ignored, would lead to world annihilation. Mandrake must think for himself to figure out General Ripper’s notebook doodles: “Peace On Earth, Purity Of Essence, POE”, and convince Guano of the urgency of the situation, “Don’t you know Ripper went as mad as a bloody March hare?” Kubrick draws attention to the stark opposites of the situation by having no music in this scene and using only the sounds of continued battle outside: gunshots, combat vehicles, and low flying jets as the two talk. The starkness of black and white shows the destruction of the office in detail: the bullet holes, the fallen pictures, the broken overhead light, and the scattered contents of the room. This IS a “black and white” situation. Ripper ordered his men to attack Russia, Guano was ordered to control the situation, and Mandrake trying to do what really mattered, decoding Ripper’s doodles. Even in black and white film, there are many shades of gray. We see in both characters the call to duty and the need for self-preservation. Kubrick’s intent with Col. Bat Guano is twofold: guano is the manure of bats and birds, mainly good for fertilizer, and it can be used as a component of gunpowder, due to its high phosphorus content. Guano is good at carrying out orders without questions,

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