Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Mormon Ending to Dr. Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove is not one that most people would associate with the Mormons in anyway. In fact, it is more of a commentary of the United State cold war policies of the late 1950s, but there are Mormon ties in with the film, although you do have to stretch a little to get them.

The first and most obvious connection is the number of women that appear in the film. As anyone who has read the Book of Mormon all the way through knows, only three people of the fairer sex appear in the text, which is odd for a book that purports to be the one thousand year history of a people. While Dr. Strangelove covers only the few hours before a nuclear holocaust, but there is only one women in Dr. Strangelove and three women in the Book of Mormon. The difference is one woman appearing in only a few hours is far more likely than the names of three women being mentioned over a period of over one thousand years.

But the connection between the Mormon faith and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove goes a little better deeper. With the FLDS in the news again, the church is trying to distance itself desperately from the actions of the polygamists, but whether or not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints still practice polygamy is irrelevant for the purposes of this article. One caveat must be given, Dr. Strangelove is not intended to be a Mormon movie.

It is not until we get to the end of Stanley Kubrick's classic black comedy that we can find any real connection between the classic cold war inspired flick and the early Mormons. When it becomes apparent that the Doomsday device that the Russians possess will be set off, it is the former German rocket scientist who proposes a radical plan that will save all of humanity. He suggests saving a small segment of humanity. His ideal community would be 20,000 people with a ration of ten women to one men.

Naturally, to get the human race back on its feet again, the remaining men will be required to do a lot of breeding to help repopulate the human race. Furthering the cause of saving humanity will require prodigious breeding on the part of the males who surive. The males chosen will be the elect in strength and intelligence or their position in government.

Now this situation alone is not enough to connect Dr. Strangelove to the Mormon faith, but anyone who observes the smile on Peter Seller's face when he delivers this line can recognize the same tone and leer of men standing around the foyer of a Mormon congregation after church discussing polygamy. Often there is the tone in the voice that suggests a longing for the good old days which are now past us.

Now the look of the wife is often one of “I'll kill you if you ever try it,” but this never seems to deter these conversations. I'm sure Stanley Kubrick did not intend this film to mirror what one can easily imagine were the attitudes of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith when they started the principal of plural marriage, but it is hard not to think that there thought processes were similar to those going through the mind of the the German mad scientist when he proposed his plan to save humanity.

Some people may feel that the comparison between the mind of Brigham Young and Stanley Kubrick is at least a little irrelevant, but until there is historical proof that the practice of polygamy was not based on Joseph Smith's desire to have more sex, speculations like this will abound. A person saying that the lord told him to do so is not proof. A stronger case can be made the Brigham Young believed this, as he was told to practice the principal, but it seems that even if he did struggle with it, as a KUED documentary on the man suggests, that he had no problem practicing the doctrine of plural marriage later in his life.


At Mon Jul 14, 11:41:00 AM 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, Mormon's believe that temple marriages are eternal. They also allow men to have more than one temple marriage. Does that not mean that, at least in the minds of Mormon believers, they are still practicing polygamy?


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