Published on July 17th, 2007 | by Chris0
The Fog of War – Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
In 2000, former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara sat down for an hour-long interview with Errol Morris for the PBS series, "First Person." Over eight hours of interview material later, this semi-autobiographical documentary was born.
McNamara is best known for being SecDef during the Kennedy years and the Cuban missile crisis, and later for his role during the first part of the Vietnam War.
Fog of War - Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara indeed runs through eleven "lessons" that he learned during his life, dealing with the nature of war and the nature of humanity.
He outlines his early years and his experiences with the end of World War I, on through his education and eventual involvement as a statistician for the Army Air Corps during World War II. From there he talks about his career with Ford (the auto company), Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and there are a few tidbits about appearances he made after that period.
There were two aspects of this film that were most interesting to me. Firstly, the role he and his office played during the final days of WWII, and how some of the tenets of statistics came to shape how the war was fought, and how ultimately that lead to the "efficiency" mindset that permeates nearly every aspect of military and business life today.
Secondly, regardless of your opinions on the current state of affairs in Iraq, the parallels that are shown (unintentionally, I might add, since this was filmed before 2003) to Vietnam are distinct and immutable. There are several statements on McNamara's behalf, and of Johnson, Kennedy et al, that could have been echoed today by anyone in the current administration. It's as if you could say, "That sounds familiar!"
And also, regardless of your opinion of McNamara (there are many many widely varying ones) he comes across many times as less sincere, at least thats how I percieved it. At other times you can genuinely feel his sincerity. I guess that's where a lot of his criticism comes from. Really I can't say for sure, that's just an opinion.
Still, overall you're left with a picture of someone coming from the upper echelons of government society, aka your average politician, and that's probably unfortunate. Mostly this stems from his penchant for passing blame for basically everything to do with Vietnam off onto the shoulders of Johnson. Again, who really knows for sure.
Interesting solely in the sense of a documentary, I'm giving this a seven. I can't really say that I enjoyed it, but really how much can you. It felt more like two hours sitting through your average Modern American History 101 lecture, really.
The Fog of War
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The Fog of War, the movie that finally won Errol Morris the best documentary Oscar, is a spellbinder. Morris interviews Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and finds a uniquely unsettling viewpoint on much of 20th-century American history...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
- Robert McNamara
- Condition: New
- Format: DVD
- Anamorphic; Closed-captioned; Color; Dolby; DVD; Subtitled; Widescreen; NTSC
Summary: Interesting solely in the sense of a documentary, I'm giving this a seven. I can't really say that I enjoyed it, but really how much can you. It felt more like two hours sitting through your average Modern American History 101 lecture, really.