Stanley Kubrick, director of Dr Strangelove, the 1960s anti-war movie made at the height of the Cold War, was so concerned about the threat of nuclear war he planned to move his family to Perth in Western Australia.
Kubrick then calculated that Perth would be the least affected by fall out and would be unlikely to be subject to a Soviet attack, according to research by Mick Broderick, an associate professor at Murdoch University’s School of Arts.
The American director had set up accounts, transferred funds, organised visas and investigated film projects in anticipation of his move.
However, he cancelled when he discovered he would have to share a bathroom on the ship that would take him to Australia.
“Famous for not flying, Stanley had bought tickets for the ocean liner. But when he found out he would have to share a bathroom the trip was off,” says Broderick.
“The idea of spending months at sea sharing toilet space with complete strangers was intolerable; he would much rather face thermonuclear war.”
The near miss emigration was uncovered by Broderick as he researched and wrote a book, Reconstructing Strangelove: Inside Stanley Kubrick’s Nightmare Comedy. Strangelove was released in 1964
“But as his wife Christiane recalled with some amusement, by that point the tensions of the time had subsided,” says Broderick.
Kubrick was known for exhaustive research before he started production of his films.
“A good deal of the genius of Dr Strangelove and its continued relevance today stems from the film’s attention to detail, not only in historical accuracy and production design, but in the perverse and pervasive discourse of nuclear strategy,” says Broderick.
Broderick’s book was recently launched at the Stanley Kubrick Archive in London with Kubrick’s daughter Katharina and long-time executive producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan.
Ms Kubrick says the book illustrated how accurately her father had depicted the circumstances and behaviours from the time that could have led to a global nuclear war.
“Dad always hoped the film would never end up a ‘documentary’, but Mick Broderick’s historical analysis shows just how close we all came to that horrific potential,” she says.
Kubrick, whose film credits included 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, died aged 70 in 1999.
Broderick’s book was published by Columbia University Press.
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