The Fog of War
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  • mein fuhrer, i can walk again!
    the oscar winning documentary studies the career of robert strange mcnamara, savior of ford motor company, architect of the viet nam war, patron saint of the golbalization economy, self-justifier par excellence, and (imho) one of the greatest villains of the 20th century. (ok, hes not on a level with stalin or hitler or walter o'malley, but hes close). the film manages to remain even handed about its subject, something i would never be able to do, and on that level it should be appreciated. i think his fans will come away seeing him as a tragically flawed hero, and his detractors (like me) will come away seeing him as the vile [...] he is. the movie demands that you think, and for that alone it should be seen by any person interested in americas role in the world.
    ...more info
  • A Little Foggy
    Fog of War

    An interesting insight into a highly intelligent, articulate and fallible man. Mr. McNamara discusses eleven crucial lessons that he has learned about the waging of war. Present leaders would do well to take these lessons to heart. Hindsight has enabled him to understand and articulate the mistakes that he and Johnson made with regard to Vietnam. Many of these mistakes are eerily similar to the mistakes that the Bush administration has made and is making with regard to Iraq.

    I don't know anything about Mr. McNamara except from what I learned in this video. Therefore, I suppose I had a fairly unbiased opinion of him before watching this. After watching this, however, I come away with a feeling that he is a good man who got lost in the fog of war. It is interesting to note that some of the first advice that he offered to Johnson was to get out of Vietnam before it spiraled out of control. This is confirmed by an excerpt of a phone conversation that he had with President Johnson.

    I think that this video is slightly marred by the quirky editing. I would have been much more pleased with a more extended and in depth discussion with Mr. McNamara instead of quick sound bites that are obviously cut and edited, I guess for "artistic effect," but to me they detract from the seriousness of the subjects that McNamara is discussing. It's almost as if the producers of this video didn't trust the attention span of the viewing public to simply listen to and learn from an in depth conversation and exploration of important events.

    The subject matter itself deserves five stars, but the handling of it in this video deserves only three in my humble opinion. It's worth watching, but don't expect to be wowed by it or to gain a significantly deeper understanding of the events that it touches.

    ...more info
  • Great documentary JFK and LBJ's SECDEF McNamara WWII Vietnam War
    This BBC / PBS -like political biographical documentary film shows how US Presidential cabinets are formed and the impact of decisions on foreign affairs at the highest level. Director Errol Morris portrays 85-yr old Robert McNamara, then Secretary of Defense for 7 years during partial JFK and LBJ terms (61-68, fired just after the Tet Offensive). Dialog and supporting screenplay maintains a sensitive, dramatic, and interesting talking head portrait for 1 1/2 hrs on DVD. The brilliantly crafted retrospective McNamara's involvement in the WWII (41-45), Korean and Cold (47-91) and Vietnam War (59-75) 35-yrs ago against the communist arch-nemeses PRChina and USSR within the context of the SE Asian Domino theory.

    The Errol Morris film won the 2004 Oscar for best documentary. Box office gross was $5M. Having also read the book with same title by Blight and Lang, this Reviewer strongly recommends the DVD over the book, as the book contains less than half of McNamara's theses.

    To date, over 14 Sec'ty of Defense have shaped world conflicts within 9 administrations; JBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, GW Bush and Obama; covering troops in Somalia (92-95), Yugoslavia (93-96), Afganistan (01-pres), and Iraq (03-pres), among scores of other conflict involving less than a thousand troops or 25 aircraft. The CIA has covert actions that are on-going in the PLO, Iran and Venezuela. (Ref: Wiki List_of_United_States_military_history_events and also CIA_sponsored_regime_change)

    Clearly the hot seat has been on successive SECDEFs Melvin Laird and Jim Schlesinger during the defeat of the Vietnam War; Dick Cheney and Bill Perry during Somalia and Yugoslavia; and Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates during Afghanistan and Iraq.

    As the US / Obama is currently trying to recover from a major global recession, viewing this retrospective would give insights on the dilemma that faces the current cabinet and policy towards Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea. After witnessing Obama's first 100 days, his tour in E Euro and Latin America and Sec'ty of State Clinton in Mexico, the Middle and Far East shows that this is a major policy shift from the 8-yr former G.W. Bush administration, including SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld and SECSTATE Condoleezza Rice.

    So far SECDEF Robert Gates is going along with the draw down of Iraq with a simultaneous increase in Afghanistan. Advanced technology with use of remotely controlled drone surveillance and combat aircraft will reduce the number of troops in harms way.

    -----

    What was especially poignant in the film is the admission that Army Air Corp General LeMay and SECDEF McNamara could have been charged as War Criminals if the US had lost the war. Both sanctioned fire-bombing of more than 60 of Japan's entire cities taking military targets and factories, as well as civilian commercial and residential districts in-toto, totaling over a quarter million civilians deaths. The two atomic bomb deaths include an additional quarter million civilians.

    ------

    Below are McNamara's on truths and lessons. If you have a fast internet connection, you can view the following video clips of movie using the YouTube URL address.

    #1 Empathize with Your Enemy (Scene 4, 0:06, wOoOcIFhaoA) Nuclear missiles in Cuba

    #2 Rationality Will Not Save Us (Scene 6, 0:16)

    #3 There's something beyond one's self (Scene 9 0:25) b1916, end of WWI, flu epidemic, went to college during Depression, Cal BA, Economics; Harvard, Grad Sch Biz. Joined Prof Harvard.

    #4 Maximize efficiency (Scene 11, 0:30)

    Attended OCS at Harvard. In USArmy Air Corps for 3yrs. Prepared WWII R&D in Pacific. Abort Mission report, pilot fear. WWII B-29 bombing over Japan, with 58th bomb wing from India, Burma. LeMay moves airfield to Mariana Islands, Guam, Saipan, Tinian. Target Destruction efficiency. Fire bombing of Tokyo 100K civilians, looses one Wingman.

    #5 Proportionality shouldn't be a guideline in War (Scene 13, 0:39, PzUStZaTGAQ).

    Incendiary bombs of Tokyo, Yokohama, Toyama, Nagoya, and 60 other cities. The nuclear bomb under LeMay command and Truman. McNamara contracted polio on VJ Day.

    #6 Get the Data (Scene 16, 0:48)

    Ford no college grads (Life Magazine) created Ford Mktg Research Dept, devel budget cars against Volkwagen and GM /Cadillac. Start crash protecting cars with Cornell Aeronautical Labs, packaging, intro seatbelts.

    Robert F Kennedy, (contract, no DC Society scene commitment, Sec'ty Defense $25K/yr), personal sacrifice leaving Ford.

    Return from S Vietnam review 1963 with 16K Advisors, military coup Diem and Kennedy assassination. Ironically Kennedy was escorted by DC's National Cemetery Groundkeeper couple weeks before; McNamara picked same spot (tears). Newly elevated Pres L.B. Johnson, with lack of VN understanding, continued under the SE Asia Domino theory by China in 1964.

    #7 Belief and Seeing are Both Often Wrong (Scene 18, 1:05, pbJLwk-bJaA, W5j0r4QyZeo)

    NVN Gun boats vs Destroyer Maddox DD731 suspect torpedo attacks near Haiphong in Aug 1964. Analysis of sonar recordings eventually show wrong conclusion; this was just a pretext to engage. Retaliation from NVN aggression results in 64 bombing missions against NVN. We see what we want to believe. Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Congress approval to engage Sept 64. Johnson authorizes "Rolling Thunder" bombing B-57s. Marine deployment 10Jun1965, 45K men, 10 battalions.

    #8 Be Prepared to Re-examine Your Reasoning (Scene 21, 1:20, PnfI-lW_asw)

    In a 1995 retrospective, McNamara asked NVN Generals what were goals for 1968 Tet Offensive; independence from CN, FR, and Amer colonialists. VN was in a Civil War to unify the country under Ho Chi Minh.

    #9 In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil (Scene 23, 1:25, LxntnXjfG4I) Moral good is a tough decision.

    #10 Never say never (Scene 25, 1:30). Never answer the question that was asked of you. Answer the question that you would have wished had been asked of you. Start Operation Birmingham Nov 67, Lexington, etc; with 500K troops, 25K KIA

    #11 You can't change human nature. (Scene 27, 1:39) One makes errors in judgment. ...more info
  • The strange account of Robert McNamara
    This is a decent film about a highly important figure from decades ago. It's somewhat flawed, however, in that it's just McNamara's own account. He's the only one giving the last word about himself. And while much of the time he seems sympathetic and highly contrite about the tragedies of the world, there are some moments where his highly educated and knowledgeable facade betrays a certain evil underneath. This is where again, and again, he seems like a perfectly moral man under normal circumstances, but when talking about war he says that things done in war are done wrong because there are no moral rules. What? Where did he get such a blindspot? The history of world is full of "rules" for war and they always include not murdering and terrorizing civilians to get what you want. His personal "fog of war" is an utterly despicable excuse. He's part of the rationalizing warmongers who think it's fine to not have morals in the moment. Nonsense. Pure nonsense. By the end I felt like I'd been roped into watching an old man's last ditch attempt to make himself appear decent....more info
  • Missing vital information
    Morris left out the whole part of history on Israel's deliberate bombing of the USS Liberty in 1967; McNamara was behind that cover up too. Of course, no one was supposed to survive that tragedy but they have and they live to tell you that that was no mistake. And so did one honest investigator, among many, "[retired Navy Captain Boston] broke decades of silence and declared that the Navy admiral who investigated the incident had been ordered by President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to conclude it was a case of mistaken identity, despite evidence to the contrary" as was reported in the San Diego Union Tribune in 2004. But to humor those of you out there who insist on parroting the rhetoric "that was a mistake," despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, still, why leave it out entirely? That's because Morris (as do others like him) has an agenda. If you watch his other films (in particular, Mr. Death), you will begin to connect the dots as to that agenda....more info
  • You feel like you're speaking with McNamara directly
    This movie is absolutely incredible. You feel like you're in the room, directly communicating with McNamara. Its really amazing to observe him relate his experiences; even in his 80s, his incredible intelligence, arrogance and colored memory of past events shines through brilliantly. I especially enjoyed the way the movie wove through history chronologically. ...more info
  • Fog of War
    This is the most entertaining, inexpensive and painless history lesson you'll ever get on the 20th Century. It's also Errol Morris's best documentary, in my opinion. True, the Thin Blue Line is terrific but I think this is his best. If you wish you were smarter you might want to wish again. This is the story of Robert McNamara: the brightest and the best of his or any age who found himself villified beyond what was reasonable or deserving. Still, he calmly made no excuses while talking candidly about doing what needed to be done. "We killed fifty-thousand men, women and children in one night over Tokyo," he said with a straight face. This is a great film and as close a look at one of the men who lived in the midst of the greatest focal points of the century you'll ever see....more info
  • Morris's best documentary
    From the soundtrack by Philip Glass to the editing to the archival footage to the recent interviews, Errol Morris does his finest work with this film. Watch it along with Why We Fight, and you will have an eye-opening experience. You don't have to feel sorry for MacNamara, but you owe yourself the chance to listen to him articulate what he has learned and how much he regrets. Not to get too specific, but I think you will see a frightening parallel between the war in Vietnam and more current wars.
    This is not propaganda. There is no bias or agenda set down by the filmmaker. You are not asked to sympathize with MacNamara. It's straight talk.
    ...more info
  • Another Place, Another Time
    Robert S. McNamara is the consumate 20th century man. He is truly representative of his time. The interesting little homilies that he claims he has gleaned from his expereinces are universal and true. McNamara displays all the qualities that made him the most effective Secretary of Defense in the 20th century: articulate, thoughtful, a natural debater and very, very smart. Despite all the issues, McNamara says only what he want to, even stating that he never, never answers a question asked of him. Overall, this is an excellent documentary, it should be standard viewing for any American History course covering this period....more info
  • M-16?
    This is an interesting, enlightening video. However, I was disappointed to learn that neither Mr. McNamara nor his "whiz kids" took any responsibility for the initial failure of the early version of the M-16 assault rifle. In earlier versions, this rifle fouled easily in the tropical climate of Viet Nam. Stories of American soldiers dying with cleaning rods in their hands,trying to clean their weapons because they would no longer fire were very distressing. Suggestions were made by soldiers to have the chamber chrome-plated fell on deaf ears; McNamara and the "whiz kids" thought if the manufacturer felt it needed a chrome-plated chamber, they would have made the rifle that way. This attitude is nothing short of arrogant. It is reminicent of the early failures of the Mark 14 torpedo during WWII.
    In a responsible position such as Secretary of Defense, one would think that such a person could realize that improvements can be made to military hardware, especially when the suggestions come from the soldiers who have to rely on the weapon they are required to carry to defend their lives. ...more info
  • UNCLOUDED FOG
    Director Errol Morris is noted for the numerous documentaries he has made over the years. Well researched and made with an objective viewpoint, he does what a true documentary film maker does. He assembles previous footage, shoots his own footage, conducts interviews and assembles it all to tell a story. Sometimes, as in the case of THE THIN BLUE LINE, he tries to make the viewer see the truth in what his film is about. But more to the point, he does this without setting someone up or trying to make someone look bad, without ridiculing someone in an attempt to make a point. Because of this, Morris deserved the recognition he received this past year as FOG OF WAR went home with the best documentary prize at the Oscars.

    The film is a look back at Robert McNamara, past Secretary of Defense under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Some background about his life is offered, his family, his schooling and such, but for the most part, Morris wants to focus on his time under these two presidents and their involvement in the Vietnam War. Morris never attacks McNamara nor presents him as the cause of the way and our involvement in it. Instead, he presents a man who sincerely wanted out and whose advice was ignored.

    The film is told in chapters, its title letting you know that at the beginning since the full title is FOG OF WAR: ELEVEN LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF ROBERT S. McNAMARA. Each chapter moves in a progression as McNamara tells of the events in his life that formed him, from his time in the military during WW II through his recent past. The lessons that he has learned and tries to somewhat impart here are ones that everyone should follow, especially those in power.

    McNamara was there during the missiles of October event, when we stared straight into the eye of the Russians and Cubans and said we were ready to go to war if need be. But his insight into this situation here is fascinating, helping the viewer to realize just exactly how close we came to all out nuclear war. And in his manner of presenting this fact, McNamara lets us know that he felt we would never have completely recovered from such a devastating event.

    A majority of the film focuses on Vietnam. Recently released White House tapes made by both presidents are included here as we get a behind the scene glimpse of how the office works. While Kennedy values his advice and counsel, Johnson seemed to have taken him on only due to his being there when he took office. The fact that both men respected McNamara is evident as is McNamara's regret of having not removed America from Vietnam sooner.

    Morris is a fantastic film maker, always letting the subject of his films speak out rather than forcing them to do so. His combination of archival footage with current interviews, his use of music and editing techniques have always made him a force to be reckoned with in the field. But it is his choice to give the viewer a glimpse into those subjects unfiltered that makes his films more real than those of any documentary film maker today.

    While this film may not seem entertaining to most it is enlightening and informative. You walk away having a newfound respect for McNamara. And if you don't recall or remember the name, you find yourself wanting to discover more about him. And isn't that the objective of a documentary film maker? To draw the viewer into wanting to know more? Morris does that with ease. Let's hope he continues to do so.
    ...more info
  • Mac The Knife ; a pathetic human being..
    I thought McNamara came across in the this film basically the way I had always thought him to be; a pathetic person with no moral back bone at all. If he indeed had opposed the war in Vietnam I don't understand why he didn't resign, and the answer is that he didn't oppose the war.

    Everyone claims McNamara was so bright, but even when he went to Vietnam in 1995 he had to have it explained to him that the Vietnamese were fighting for their independence. Why didn't he know that? I was 25 years old in 1966 and I knew that.

    Ho Chi Minh was a young student in Paris at the end of WWI. When President Wilson came to Paris, Minh sent letter to Wilson asking him to help free his country from the French. They wanted their independence. Wilson never replied. Why didn't McNamara know that.

    As for McNamara's eleven lessons from his life; no brainers each one. Stuff that one learns the first week in a business education class in high school.

    The film added nothing to our knowledge of World War II or the Vietnam War that hasn't been discussed before.

    So I came away from the film feeling the McNamara still doesn't know who he is or what he is about....still trapped in the fog of his wars....more info
  • ...... THE ADVENT TO AMERICA'S ....." NEW MILITARY+INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX"........
    This is no movie...this is no documentary; however, you go face to face with one of the bloodiest butcher's in our history concerning 'the welfare' of our Armed Forces...it's the closet thing to a McNamara autobiography as he revels in introducing himself to the ordinary hard working American and the valiant troops who languished in Vietnam; truly, he now appears in a light colored trench/coat out of the fog and mist of the war years [WW2 thru Vietnam]...he is very amicable, cozy and almost human, while revealing momentous times that shine light on a 'different' Robert McNamara who was Secretary of Defense under Presidents: Kennedy-Johnson...precisely, he had the lives of every member in our fighting Armed Forces tightly in the grip of his blood/soaked hands...he was dicitorial/authoritive and only held accountable to 'his' President[s]...he relished his role of Sec of Defense and the custodian/ship of a new concept of how America will go to WAR from Vietnam right up into the Iraq war...full knowing what this 'US Military-Industrial Complex' is all encompassing...just prior to President Dwight Eisenhower's retirement, he warned the American people to be most wary of this exclusive 'Military-Industrial Complex'.....after a comprehensive education at University of California and later Harvard University, the top men of power seeked and desired McNamara's counsel; henceforth, he was with the elite that makes America march to their collective drums...I don't buy his tear-filled mea-culpa on film at all...not at all...I say every mud combatant/soldier, who suffered severely in the WAR in Vietnam [1962-1967] should be his judge, and you'll learn from their deprivations, and no chance to win the war...just how he was truly HATED [talk about another Martin Borman]...Bob, I suggest, you take your quest for an elite life, which you attained, now go, with hat in hand and pander your wares somewhere else...I'm never buying your revised/snake oil...good riddance!!.....SSGT CHRIS SARNO-USMC FMF...more info
  • Great View of McNamara
    This award-winning documentary is a must for anyone looking to delve into the personality of actors in the Vietnam era. Be sure to check it out...more info
  • The ability to see two sides of an arguement.......
    I watched this document for the first time last night, it drew me in from the 30 minute mark and I could not leave my seat until it was over. Befroe I wrote this review I read others. I wanted to read others who felt differently than I did.
    I saw that some were upset at Mr. Mc Namara; for those of you that are upset at his culpability and duplicity in the Viet Nam Action, I ask you to re-examine two points. 1. the president offered him two cabinet spots to which Robert said he was not qualified (for either) but like most men he seized upon an opportunity. 2. Robert told President -elect Kennedy that he should get out of Viet Nam as soon as possible, then Kennedy was killed (and not by Lee Oswald).
    For those of you who do not regognize a man feeling his mortality and wanting in some way to explain his folly, keep living. For those of you who believe if you were in the same posistion you would have done something different than follow the instructions of you boss(who knows even less than you) then I laugh at you. The reason America was in Viet Nam is the same reason we are have gone to Iraq. Policy set by a few men and a citizenry too complacent to say enough is enough. Do you see a similarity between our time and theirs. Thank you Mr. Mc Namara, I doubt any of our current leaders in the future will have the courage to document anything. ...more info
  • In order to do good...
    One of the "lessons" that Robert McNamara imparts in this documentary is that "in order to do good, you may have to engage in evil." This lesson essentially sums up the life of not only McNamara but the history of the United States in the later half of the 20th century. However, the question that the film really presents is just how much evil must one do to accomplish good. In the final estimation, did McNamara do more good then evil? Morris does not answer this, but makes it clear that this ultimate question cannot be answered by simply plugging in numbers to an IBM machine. One could be tempted to think that for every Japanese life lost in the fire bombings in 1945, maybe 10 American lives were sparred from a land invasion of the home islands. Was that worth it? For the 68,000 lives lost in Vietnam, did McNamara make this up in his leadership of the World Bank? There is not an answer to this question, and even the subject of this documentary cannot attempt to answer it without contradicting himself. At one point in the interview McNamara believes that he was acting as part of a machine, but later on adds that he was acting as a war criminal during the bombing of Japan. Does mankind abdicate his free will when the fog of war rolls in? This is what makes this documentary so compelling is that it shows a 83 year old coming to grips with the reality of what he has done, and what he has not done.

    One could think that a viewer would have come away from this documentary with an understandable loathing for Robert McNamara. After all, he would be the prototypical target of such protest songs as Dylan's "Masters of War" or the poster-child of the military-industrial complex. Yet, each time I watch the movie, I do not feel anger towards him, but I feel rather a partial remoteness that is hard to explain. Part of the explanation is that if placed in the same situation, I know that I would have acted the same way. I too would have followed orders from Curtis LeMay concerning the bombing of Japan. I also would have probably ran Vietnam with the same attitude that McNamara did. Now that we have seen that the lessons from Vietnam were not read when it came to Iraq, one could only think of what George Bernard Shaw once wrote:"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." "The Fog of War" is not a dry historical documentary, but rather a primer on philosophy, rationality and ultimately death.
    ...more info
  • Fascinating
    This is DVD gives honest and rare insight into the mind of a person with great influence....more info
  • The Fog of War -- We're In It Again
    Last night, I watched the documentary, Fog of War, about former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. MacNamara, the Harvard-educated whiz kid who many call the architect of the Vietnam War. It is the portrait of a brilliant, but profoundly troubled old man who weeps about selecting a plot of ground in Arlington in which to bury JFK, but is steel-eyed as he recounts bombing sorties that destroy hundreds of thousands. While fighting hard to stay composed, it is evident that MacNamara is haunted by his own dark deeds and the human condition but remains stubbornly out of touch with the part of himself that orchestrated them.

    The experiences he recounts - most notably, in WWII, devising ways for U.S. bomb to destroy most of Japan, killing over 100,000 civilians a day to presiding over the Dept of Defense for eight years of the U.S. in Vietnam - are stunning in his application of sophisticated management techniques and statistics to destroy lives and nations. Were he not on the side of good, he observes at one point, he would surely be tried as a war criminal, to which I would add, on a scale equal to Hitler.

    MacNamara is a very bright man and the film is well done, even if the interviewer couldn't quite decide whether to be in it or not, and therefore doesn't use a microphone for his own questions. It's also a very valuable instructive tool - recounting in chilling detail how close we came to nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crises, the Cold War, World War II and finally Vietnam. It is also heavily edited, I would imagine so that MacNamara could be firmly in charge, pulling back and stepping forward as suits him. It is therefore filled with omissions and lies - the willingness of the U.S. to go to war to protect its economic interests and the fabrication at Johnson's insistence of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, a perfect analog to the trumped up intelligence Bush used to justify invading Iraq.

    Although it is about history and the role of a man who dedicated much of his professional life to efficiently killing people (in the name of ideals and for our leaders, he would hasten to add, sounding very similar to generals in the Third Reich), the film is especially chilling as it lays out Eleven Lessons for our nation, several of which we are flagrantly violating today in Iraq; namely, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 & 11. In fact, the parallels between the folly of believing we could win the war in Indochina and our present situation in what was formerly Persia are so profound, it's a wonder there aren't more documentaries, novels, essays and intelligent discourse on the subject. (Read Graham Greene's The Quiet American, written in the late 50s, and the folly of our efforts in Vietnam is plain enough for an 8th grader to get).

    1. Empathize with your enemy.
    2. Rationality will not save us.
    3. There's something beyond one's self.
    4. Maximize efficiency.
    5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
    6. Get the data.
    7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
    8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
    9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
    10. Never say never.
    11. You can't change human nature.

    What's even sadder is that as many mistakes and as much damage as MacNamara committed, he is head and shoulders above Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration. That George W. Bush is out of the class of statesman is so obvious, I won't waste time describing how poorly he fares next to JFK, Kruschev and even fellow Texas cowboy, Lyndon B. Johnson.

    Fog of War is an excellent film. In MacNamara, Shakespeare would feel vindicated for creating some of his darkest characters. Pure evil does exist. It is, in its most extreme, as Hannah Arendt alleged after WWII, banal. ...more info
  • The Fog of Morris: Eleven Lessons Learned from Watching Errol Morris Documentaries.
    The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (Errol Morris, 2003)

    What stuns me about The Fog of War is that Robert S. McNamara, unlike so many of Errol Morris' subjects, does not come off a moron. Rather the contrary.

    When you go into an Errol Morris film, you can be sure of what you're getting. Morris' directorial style is one of transparency (and, as Billy Wilder said, the best director is the one you don't notice); he sits back, lets the subject talk, and things take their course. Almost every time, the subject finds a way to make himself out to be a complete idiot. Whether it's coincidence that Morris often films some of the most hated people on the planet, or people in the most hated professions on the planet (in the case of the short-lived and highly underrated series First Person), I don't know. After all, most of us are morons.

    McNamara, on the other hand, is very composed throughout. If he's not entirely honest the whole time (and for all we know, he might not be), he at least comes off as someone who's earnest and unapologetic-- someone who stood up for the things in which he believed in the face of a government who were committed to stupidity. (Unlike many reviewers, I didn't see the "I am not responsible, but will accept responsibility" bit as evasion; I saw it as a grand "up yours" to society. "This ain't my mess, but you're going to blame me anyway. Why should I care?".) We're all well aware that Robert McNamara made mistakes during the Vietnam War. We're all well aware that he made decisions based on incomplete, or erroneous, data. (Those are far different from mistakes.) That it was too late to do him any good when he learned of, and from, those mistakes, is irrelevant. It seems to me that the point being made by McNamara-- and, by extension, by Morris-- is that the real tragedy here is that no one else, especially no one in the current administration, has learned from Robert McNamara's mistakes, either. ****...more info
  • Exceptional and Insightful- Must See
    This documentary blew my mind so much that my husband and I watched it more than once- something we NEVER do. I liked it so myuch I sent it to my father and mother who had definate opinions of McNamara and the war and this completely changed the way they saw everything. My father is a war veteran and a buff of this kind of thing and even he learned a lot from it. Fantastic movie. Must see....more info
  • One of my favorite docs!
    The number of rarities that needed to come together for this film to work as well as it does is as mind-boggling as the content. As citizens of a country, we always wish we could enter the mind of those in power or those working with those in power, but we know we never can, because we know that all those in power are secretive and hide their true opinions, most of the time for security reasons or to cover their guilt. So that McNamara opened up like this is the first incredible offering of the film. That he revealed not just the facts but his emotions towards them is the second. This is a man that either has not let his guilt blind him or at least is using this film opportunity to transcend his guilt. Combine this with the music and visual hypnotic craftsmanship of Philip Glass and Erol Morris, and this is a must see political film. Perhaps the best of the genre. ...more info
  • Good Transaction
    Vendor delivered the DVD on time and as ordered. I would order from them again....more info
  • Interesting documentary: In order to do Good, You may have to Engage in Evil....
    Well, the CIA would probably agree with Lesson #9: "In order to do Good, You may have to Engage in Evil".... Seriously, this film makes people evaluate or re-evaluate thoughts about War.

    This is an interesting documentary, for many reasons. Other people have thoroughly reviewed this, so I am only adding my "two cents." Some folks hate documentaries, but this is worth seeing and purchasing....more info
  • Left out SOMETHING HUGE
    What is so dishonest, disingenuous and in every way 'the wave of the big brother American Marxist future' is ONE SIMPLE FACT left out of this otherwise notable documentary:
    3,000,000 Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese (through Pol Pot, etc) died at the hands of Communist regimes after we pulled out.

    Somehow the sanctimonious second-guessers from the Left ALWAYS LEAVE THAT OUT!...more info
  • The Fog of War
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