The Fog of War (2003)

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a fabulous documentary film. I love the way that director, Errol Morris, shouts his question from behind the camera. The production value, the original music, the motion graphics, everything is beautifully put together.

McNamara has led a fascinating life—served in WWII, president of Ford Motor Company, US Secretary of Defense for Kennedy and Johnson and president of the World Bank. Even more fascinating are some of the darker moments in US history. In WW II the US wiped out 100,000 Japanese people in a single night of firebombing. 100,000 people! The number of civilians killed in the bombing of other Japanese cities is embarrassing. McNamara feels that many generals would have been tried as war criminals if the US had lost the war.

McNamara also makes a strong point about the US having the support of its allies before going to war against a nation—it didn’t have this with Vietnam and it lost. Fast-forward 30 years and look at what the Bush administration has learned from Vietnam. Not very much it seems.

McNamara played a role in the deaths of thousands of people. Quite often in the interviews with Morris, McNamara becomes quite emotional. How do go from being US Secretary of Defense to president of the World Bank? I can’t help but wonder if McNamara has been trying to ‘atone for his sins’.

The Fog of War is worth a viewing if you haven’t seen it yet. I’ll probably watch it again on DVD—there is a lot to digest in one sitting. There aren’t a lot of extras, maybe 10 minutes of deleted scenes but who cares? This film doesn’t really need them.

Posted in DVD Reviews at 7:45 PM