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The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

Robert McNamara , Errol Morris  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (362 customer reviews)

Price: $46.82 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert McNamara
  • Directors: Errol Morris
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 11, 2004
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (362 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001L3LUE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,075 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 24 never-before-released additional scenes
  • Robert S. McNamara's 10 lessons from his life in politics

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

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. Employing a ton of archival material, including LBJ's fascinating taped conversations from the Oval Office, Morris probes the reasons behind the U.S. commitment to the Vietnam War--and finds a depressingly inconsistent policy. McNamara himself emerges as--well, not exactly apologetic, but clearly haunted by the what-ifs of Vietnam. He also mulls the bombing of Japan in World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis, raising more questions than he answers. The Fog of War has the usual inexorable Morris momentum, aided by an uneasy Philip Glass score. This movie provides a glimpse inside government. It also encourages skepticism about same. --Robert Horton

Product Description

Filmmaker Errol Morris sits down with Kennedy's controversial former Secretary of Defense-and chief architect of the war in Vietnam-Robert McNamara as he discusses his insights into the latter half of the 20th century. 2003/color/107 min/PG-13/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
297 of 336 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Giant, Startling Vision March 15, 2004
This brilliant work by director Morris is the stuff of life. And death. It arouses the most basic moral and immoral questions of being human through an enormously complex and yet simple man, Robert Strange McNamara. It seems no coincidence, his middle name, as we get to know him in all his cleverness and contradictions. Morris subtly illuminates, literally through McNamara's eyes, what it means to have power over life and death. Like God. There is something almost spiritual in McNamara's eyes, edited against searing images of, well, graphs, statistics, memoranda, bursting firebombs and nuclear mushrooms, almost all rarely seen-before footage. The eyes are the soul of this film - McNamara's are a combination of supreme confidence and extreme doubt. But not only his eyes - for example, we see President Kennedy's eyes frozen in the lens as he tells the nation of imminent nuclear war in 1962, a look that would make a Marine shiver. This new interview technique ("interrotron" ) draws us into what? War? Peace? Honor? Life? Power? Evil?
Born 85 years ago, McNamara is the quintessential man of his time, what Brokaw called the greatest generation, a sobriquet this documentary underscores. In McNamara's words he deplored the sorrow and pity of the four great wars of his lifetime; the trenches in France; the nuclear and indiscriminate firebombing of innocent Japanese; the debacle in Korea; the flaming jungles of Vietnam. His command of statistics is breathtaking. But it is the eyes that reveal an inner truth, the precise opposite of his concise, rational words - his 11 "lessons". We see a man who never found himself in harm's way.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All eleven lessons are extremely important to us all. February 16, 2004
Errol Morris did his homework for this movie. 20 hours of film and tape. The music by Philip Glass is outstanding. The film, the interaction in the first person, the archival footage, some in three dimensions are mind boggling. The music is very unique and original. The messages are clear. In war the human mind cannot comprehend the complexities. "How much evil must we do, to do good?" Having assisted in the production of the film, I know how hard everyone worked to make this unforgetable film. It should be required viewing for all military and flag officer candidates as well as all presidential candidates. SEE IT. It is worth every minute. Even if you are too young to remember Vietnam. Even if you served in Vietnam and hate Mr. McNamara. You need to see this important film.
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74 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's His Eyes January 13, 2005
Format:DVD
You end up watching this man, a "talking head," for so long. While there are a handful of shots of him driving what looks like a Ford Taurus past the Pentagon and a number of other government landmarks, almost all footage showing a contemporary Robert McNamara seems to be a single-camera setup.

He is trying to be honest, but does not promise to be self-revelatory. Others here speculate that it is his shot at redemption. If you know his work at Ford, you know that he's not really a redemption kind of guy. Rather, he's more a scientist or engineer. He want's to contribute to a growing body of knowledge. He's [obviously] not afraid to make mistakes, so long as they are cataloged and recorded.

So long as we all learn from them.

That's why he made this film. There are moments of emotion - for example, when he talks about John Kennedy's death. But it's not a confessional. He says more than once, "I'm not going to go into this," because it relates to private matters.

Watch his eyes. Watch how hard it is for him to do what he feels so strongly compelled to do: somehow add meaning to his experiences by teaching us. The pain his eyes express sometimes is at once awful and compelling.

I don't think he made this movie to earn absolution. He's the kind of guy who would claim absolution as a matter of right.

No, he wants us to learn, and to enable that by as much lucidity and honesty as he can muster. Most leaders don't care enough about us to take this effort.

As much as a reasonable person could hate McNamara, I thank him for trying to teach us. It's like hearing someone already in hell trying to offer a word of warning.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This is the only documentary film to make it on to my list of 470+ non-fiction books relevant to national security & global issues. It is superb, and below I summarize the 11 lessons with the intent of documenting how every military person, and ideally every citizen, should view this film.
As the U.S. military goes through the motions of "transformation" while beset by the intense demands of being engaged in a 100-year war on six-fronts around the world, all of them against asymmetric threats that we do not understand and are not trained, equipped, nor organized to deal with, this film is startlingly relevant and cautionary.
LESSON 1: EMPHATHIZE WITH YOUR ENEMY. We must see ourselves as they see us, we must see their circumstances as they see them, before we can be effective.
LESSON 2: RATIONALITY WILL NOT SAVE US. Human fallibility combined with weapons of mass destruction will destroy nations. Castro has 162 nuclear warheads already on the island, and was willing to accept annihilation of Cuba as the cost of upholding his independence and honor.
LESSON 3: THERE'S SOMETHING BEYOND ONESELF. History, philosophy, values, responsibility--think beyond your niche.
LESSON 4: MAXIMIZE EFFICIENCY. Although this was McNamara's hallmark, and the fog of war demands redundancy, he has a point: we are not maximizing how we spend $500B a year toward world peace, and are instead spending it toward the enrichment of select corporations, building things that don't work in the real world.
LESSON 5: PROPORTIONALITY SHOULD BE A GUIDELINE IN WAR. McNamara is clearly still grieving over the fact that we firebombed 67 Japanese cities before we ever considered using the atomic bomb, destroying 50% to 90% of those cities.
LESSON 6: GET THE DATA.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and intense
If you are interested in 20th century history, politics and/or war, this is a film you have to see. Quite emotional as well.
Published 1 day ago by Rodo
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening part of history
very eye opening account of our behavior as human beings and the insight on their mentality at the time and, why certain events took the course they did.
Published 11 days ago by bob
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad tale
Shows that sometimes numbers don't tell the whole story. Our pollicies get a momentum of their own once once they are put into being, must be caeful.
Published 13 days ago by Bryant Harroun
2.0 out of 5 stars Biased Editing
McNamara is pretty good in this, but the editing belies a strong bias against the Vietnam War on the producer's part.
Published 14 days ago by Audiobookphile
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Watch for Anyone Interested in Recent U.S. History
One of the most informative documentaries and accounts in general of the Cuban Missile Crisis, WW II and Viet Nam from the mouth of a key contributor to those events, Robert... Read more
Published 16 days ago by John Scherer
5.0 out of 5 stars good documentary
This was very interesting and I learned some things that I didn't know when all this was going on. My husband and I lived through this but we were young and didn't understand... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Brenda B
5.0 out of 5 stars Well made film
I learned from the film that the Vietcong Communists were only interested in their Civil War and not the "domino effect" for future expansion that McNamara and Johnson... Read more
Published 18 days ago by David N. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars great documentary
I did not know that when US bombed Tokyo during WWII it used incendiary bombs and actually burned to death every man, woman and child. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Parvin Darabi
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Entertaining
Robert McNamara describes just how close we came to a nuclear conflict during the cold war. He imparts lessons that he has learned throughout his career as Secretary of Defense to... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Thomas Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing documentary
This documentary finds an 85 year old Robert McNamara humbled by his experiences and ready to reflect carefully and honestly on the his involvement in American defense policy. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Jonas T. Oesterle
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