The Fog of War DVD
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Directed by Errol Morris
Produced in 2003
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
In the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Dr. Death) interviews the now 86-year-old Defense Secretary in an effort to come to terms with what led to the quagmire of Vietnam, and reveals a more complex, even strangely sympathetic man. The interview, interspersed with archival footage, news broadcasts, and tape-recorded conversations from the period, documents McNamara's personal account of his involvement with American policy from WW II to the 1960s. The Secretary does not apologize for the war, saying he was only trying to serve an elected President, but is willing to admit his mistakes. He says that he now realizes the Vietnam conflict was considered by the North Vietnamese to be a civil war and that they were fighting for the independence of their country from colonialism.
Morris never undercuts McNamara's dignity or pushes him into a corner, yet also does not slide troubling questions under the rug, and there are some questions McNamara does not want to discuss. In talking about Cuba, he reveals how close the world came to nuclear annihilation, saved only by the offhand suggestion of an underling. McNamara repeats over and over again, demonstrating with his fingers, how close we all came to nuclear war. Though the Secretary does not apologize for the war, saying he was only trying to serve an elected President, to his credit he has looked at the corrosiveness of war and what it does to the human soul, and we are left with the sense of a man who has come a long way.
"We are the strongest nation in the world today," he says, "and I do not believe we should ever apply that economic, political or military power unilaterally. If we'd followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn't have been there. None of our allies supported us. If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we'd better re-examine our reasoning." A valuable lesson indeed.
A brilliant, Oscar-winning documentary in which renowned film-maker Errol Morris interviews and challenges former US defence minister Robert S. McNamara, who oversaw the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War, shaping his answers into 10 life lessons. The result is an extraordinary documentary, that gains disconcerting power through the startling honesty and articulacy of McNamara.
Publisher: Columbia Tri-Star
Length: 103 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic widescreen
Cat No: CDR35046
Format: DVD Colour
Subtitles: English, English HOH + 17 more
- 25 additional scenes
- TV Spots
- Theatrical trailer
- Robert S. McNamara's 10 lessons.
by Alex Davidson on 4th August 2004
The major flaw of the highly-acclaimed Bowling For Columbine was its rather limp denouement in which Michael Moore heckled an elderly Charlton Heston, head of the NRA.... Read on
The major flaw of the highly-acclaimed Bowling For Columbine was its rather limp denouement in which Michael Moore heckled an elderly Charlton Heston, head of the NRA. As valid as Moore's points regarding gun laws were, one felt his diatribe would be better-aimed at a more obviously culpable and lucid target. In The Fog of War, which also won the Oscar for Best Documentary, celebrated documentary-maker Errol Morris has far more formidable subject to work with – Robert S. McNamara, the former US Secretary of Defense who, among other things, helped engineer the Vietnam War.
The film is divided into eleven so-called ‘life lessons’, expanded on by McNamara during the interview. Although the irony is obvious – why would anyone wish to learn a ‘life lesson’ from a man responsible for the deaths of so many innocent civilians? – the filmmaker clearly has a degree of respect for his subject even as he presses him on his most dubious actions.
Unlike Heston, McNamara comes across as an articulate and highly intelligent interviewee, whose observations are often surprisingly candid (he admits that, had America been defeated in the war, he would have been tried as a war criminal). He also remains surprisingly unflappable throughout. He is a fascinating subject, who sobs as he talks of his relationship with JFK, yet describes the napalming of innocent Vietnamese civilians with a disturbing detachment.
The timing of this film's release is expedient – it is difficult not to think of Iraq when McNamara talks about “our cause”, whilst comparisons with Donald Rumsfeld are inevitable. A politician to the last, McNamara never apologises for his actions, terminating the interview by snapping "I am not going to say any more than I have". Fortunately, what he does have to day makes this the most engrossing documentary of the year so far. AD Hide
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