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

(In theaters, July 2004) No one goes to the movies expecting a cogent treatise of geopolitical power and tips for more efficient warfare. Yet that’s exactly what The Fog Of War is all about; a late-life summation of what ex-Secretary of Defence Robert S. McNamara learnt during his life and his tenure at the top of the Kennedy/Johnston administration. From World War 2 to the Vietnam War, with a scary detour through the October 1962 Cuban Crisis, McNamara reminisces, summarizes, explains and justifies thirty years of American foreign policy. Good stuff, coming from someone who was heavily involved as it was happening. There is probably another film to be made to show the same events from another viewpoint; through The Fog Of War, we get flashes of McNamara’s reputation, but Errol Morris’ film merely presents his subject’s viewpoint without much by way of counterpoint. Still, the film is fascinating, especially given how it features one single talking head for most of its duration. McNamara is a mesmerizing speaker, and what he has to say would be most appropriate within the pages of a scholarly history book than a film. Military buffs and student of post-WW2 world history will learn a lot from it.

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