The Fog of War
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The winner of last year’s (2003) Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, THE FOG OF WAR features former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara recounting his many experiences and lessons learned while serving under both presidents Kennedy and Johnson. A truly in-depth perspective on the inner workings and the not-so-black-and-white art of war and politics…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I must admit I was pretty skeptical about watching this for two reasons: 1) It has an incredibly boring title and 2) It seemed to be yet another preachy, heard-it-all-before documentary on war. Zzzzzzzz. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, as it turned out to be a very candid and extremely interesting look into some of the most intense “turning point” moments of war in the history of the U.S - specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. McNamara served as Secretary of Defense (and a controversial one at that) during both those times and was in on every military strategy made. And it’s not just 107 minutes of this 85-year old man chatting away either, the film has constant inclusions of vintage military and political footage from days gone by as McNamara shares (with mostly voice-overs) the 11 life lessons one can learn from the course of his political and military career. The man is as sharp and quick as a young man in his prime and after just a few minutes you’ll be giving his words and thoughts the weight and importance they deserve.
And I take back what I said, or rather, thought about the film’s title. The title of this documentary couldn’t be more perfect as most, if not all, of what McNamara shares with us has to do with the amazingly delicate nature of war and how unimaginably complex it really is: behind closed doors as on the battlefield. There are a multitude of political factors to consider (most of these figure into the 11 lessons) at every moment of every situation. Some archival audio tapes of McNamara and both presidents are also included, and help to further illustrate, not only the consequences of difficult decisions during wartime, but also show how vital a role McNamara played in the country’s past accomplishments, as well as its mistakes. Philip Glass’ perfectly honed score just made my movie-watching experience all the sweeter, especially during the opening sequence, which was easily one of my favorite parts. THE FOG OF WAR will make you appreciate McNamara’s life, his zest and excitement for his job as well as his frank retelling of the some of the closest calls his country has ever faced…
24 Additional Scenes: Some more wonderful bits and pieces here. In fact, I can’t single any of them out, if you loved this movie as much as I, I advise you to watch all 24. Some more great moments to flesh out this great man’s biography.
Robert S. McNamara’s Ten Lessons: A small intro by McNamara to these 10 written lessons informs us that the 11 lessons in the film, are not his, but these are, in fact, 10 life lessons he’s learned from his life in politics. I guess the 11 lessons in the movie were just basic truths one can conclude from his life. Um, got that? I know, I know, I was a little confused too. I wish they’d made this a tad clearer. So, now there are, what, 21 lessons? In any case, McNamara’s ten lessons are actually quite profound, intelligent and definitely worth checking out. Worth a quick read through, folks…
Previews and TV Spots
THE FOG OF WAR is an extremely engaging documentary that will balance out your next cheesy action rental nicely. They’ll make a real fun Friday night double bill. An intelligent documentary that will not only NOT send you into a deep slumber, but will keep you on the edge of your couch… Rent it on your next trip to the video store!