There may come a time when you’re standing in the stacks, book in one hand, DVD in the other. What to do!?! Have no fear. It’s Book vs. Movie.
During the Cold War, a Royal Air Force officer sets about writing a short novel based on the idea that we must wage war to have peace. Published under the pseudonym Peter Bryant (because one can never be too careful about these things), Two Hours to Doom or Red Alert (as it was called in the U.S.A) enjoyed only modest success until a famous filmmaker (Stanley Kubrick) got his hands on the book and had an idea for a movie. He hires the author (real name Peter George) to work on the script of what has become a part of film history — Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. After the movie is made, Peter decided to write the story again and published another book — Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. So a book becomes a movie, which becomes a book. You follow? (Side note: is it fan fiction if it’s by the original author?).
Let’s begin with the movie. Dr. Strangelove the movie is just that — strange and beloved. The dark comedy has won a permanent place in film history for making nuclear warfare a laughing matter. The real genius of the film is: it’s funny, because it’s true. Kubrick succinctly captures the real hysterical mindset of the Cold War — a world of megadeaths, doomsday machines, and nuclear bunkers planned by a crazy German by the name of Dr. Strangelove (lesson learned — always be leery of someone who wears sunglasses inside and always guard the purity of your bodily fluids).
In short, the movie was just what I like out of a film — easy to follow, but with a lot of social commentary to mentally digest. Two thumbs way up.
Surely if the movie was so good, the book based on the movie would also have to be good, right? This is Pete’s third time working on this plot! It has to be a culminating masterpiece! That’s where you’d be wrong. The book was terrible. It feels like he took the script and added a few transitioning lines. The only real change of note was he left the storyline with General Jack Ripper open (maybe thinking of a sequel?) Well, that and he left out Dr. Strangelove’s final exclamation from the film (no spoilers, but it was amazing!)
In this war between the movie and the book, the choice is easy. I’ll be taking the movie with me into the WWIII bunker.
What about you? Book or movie?