The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara Reviews

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April 2, 2019
"The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara" directed by Errol Morris desperately wants to be a single-minded documentary despite being steered by two dichotomous agendas. One such agenda intended this cinematic Frankenstein to be an epic yet humble bildungsroman that brushed over our hero's various war crimes, atrocities and his overall contribution to the deep-seated corruption, conspiracy and chicanery that had been since plaguing the U.S. Government for at least several terms. The other agenda which appeared to desire telling some gritty and nuanced reality about the moral muddiness that war entails as well as the corrupt truths of Washington which would have shown promise if it were efficiently realized but alas, the shenanigans that evidently occurred behind the scenes were just as suspect as those of the U.S. government back in McNamara's day. With a uniquely confused sense of identity this documentary fails to achieve either agenda and comes across as both a desperate attempt to preserve McNamara's good name through propaganda and gas-lighting and an amateur yet noble effort to give a controversial account of this dark epoch in American history.
February 4, 2019
The Fog of War, directed by Errol Morris, is an informative documentary that describes Robert McNamaraÔ(TM)s controversial career, as told by himself through a series of personal interviews. This technique allows viewers to observe McNamaraÔ(TM)s emotions as he discusses each aspect of his life, effectively displaying him as a man who did what he felt was best when faced with high-stakes decisions. Morris largely allows McNamara, through his interviews, to guide the course of the documentary. As such, the documentary is in part an apology from McNamara, but also an explanation of his decisions and an attempt to show how he helped save lives aside from his involvement in the Vietnam war. In regards to war, McNamara never openly admits his mistakes, but urges others to learn from mistakes made in past war, especially in regards to nuclear war.
McNamara sharing lessons he has learned appears to be a major focus of his in the documentary, but unfortunately the eleven lessons shown on screen are only loosely, if at all, tied to McNamaraÔ(TM)s discussions of his career. This leads to poor structure of the documentary, which is really the only drawback of an otherwise highly informative film that shows a different side of Robert McNamara. As such, McNamaraÔ(TM)s interviews are both the greatest strength and the greatest weaknesses of this film. Despite a confusing chronology, overall this is a good documentary that I would recommend to any American interested in our nation's history, especially those who experienced the Vietnam War or teachers who wish to add to their curriculum when discussing McNamara and the Vietnam War.
½ February 1, 2019
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons of the Life of Robert McNamara directed by Errol Morris is a moving documentary that highlights the careers and life accomplishments of Robert McNamara, and discusses the many consequences and challenges of war. McNamara held several key positions throughout his life, for example he was a statistical analyst for the air force, president of Ford Motor Company, and served as the secretary of defense under presidents Kennedy and Johnson. In this film the knowledgeable McNamara discusses the Vietnam war in great detail, including his involvement in the destructive forces of nuclear weaponry, and his efforts to bring the war to an end due to his opinion that it was unnecessary and that too many lives were being lost. McNamara also includes eleven lessons that focus on war and the common misconceptions held by, or mistakes made by people, generals, and entire nations while engaged in combat.
Several of these lessons include: you can´┐ 1/2 1/2 1/2(TM)t change human nature, rationality alone will not save us, belief and seeing are often both wrong, and never say never. As the film goes more in depth into each of these lessons, one can admire the expertise and knowledge of McNamara and his analysis of the events that transpired while he served in his various callings. I believe that if all the nations of the world closely followed and respected these guidelines, there would be much less tension between nations and therefore less war.
January 31, 2019
If you care more about filmography than actual content, please watch this film. While watching it, I was constantly amazed by the beautiful imagery and the tone that the interviewer took on the topic, but the actual content-the subject of the film-was a downer and the cause of distrust in the most abrupt and unsettling way. McNamara's tone throughout the whole film was chillingly calm and reserved when discussing matters of great importance and his mannerisms never seemed to match his words. The images (such as the numbered bombs) added an element of visual metaphor that is cerebral and enticing; it helps to balance out the terribly boring and frankly upsetting reserved speech spewing out of McNamara like a broken fire hydrant.
The end of the film left the taste of sour milk in my mouth due to the aggressive tone McNamara took when asked his opinion of interviews. Because of his distrust of speaking truthfully, it seemed to disqualify all of the information he gave to the watcher in the past hour and a half of film. I finished the doc with the feeling of having wasted a lot of time listening to a man lie for an extended period of time, trying to excuse the murder of thousands of people due to ignorance. I would not recommend watching this film unless you are open to hearing a point of view so aggressively unsettling that it makes you queasy.
January 31, 2019
Errol Morris´┐ 1/2 1/2(TM)s film, The Fog of War, is a gripping documentary that is, and likely will be, relevant for many years to come. Both Errol Morris and Robert McNamara agree throughout the film that the use of nuclear weapons used on nations by nations is an act that we as a species can never come back from. With regular war, we are able to pick ourselves up off the floor afterwards and learn from the inevitable mistakes that are made. With nuclear war however, the fallout will be catastrophic; so much so, that there will be no saving us. Very few people today really weigh the consequences of how the events of nuclear warfare will affect us for generations to come, a sentiment shared by McNamara, When he claims that ´┐ 1/2 1/2the combination of human infallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations.´┐ 1/2 1/2´┐ 1/2┬?
In the film, McNamara discusses his opinions on the Vietnam War and how close we as a nation came to full blown nuclear war, due to simple misunderstandings on both sides. With the Vietnamese waging civil war, believing that the US has come to interject themselves where they don´┐ 1/2 1/2(TM)t belong, and the US believing that the Vietnamese are fighting Russian communism, as well as both sides toting and threatening nuclear weapons, the threat of annihilation loomed over the world, with everyone of either side believing what they wanted to believe. The ultimate question the film addresses is how much evil do we have to do before doing a certain amount of good.
½ January 30, 2019
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons of the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a captivating documentary following the actions of the former Secretary of Defense. While following the life of McNamara in his days as a statistical analyst for the Air Force, his days as the President of Ford Motor Company, and his eventual rise to Secretary of Defense, we gain a better understanding of McNamara and his actions during the Vietnam War. Though the documentary partly functions as an apology for McNamara´┐ 1/2(TM)s career, Errol Morris more effectively defends against the use of nuclear power in our war and disagreements with other countries. Through a multitude of interviews with McNamara and a few of his colleagues in the Pentagon and in Ford Motor Company, we see that despite the policy of the President towards Vietnam, McNamara believed that nuclear war wasn´┐ 1/2(TM)t the answer. Overall, the film is informative, enjoyable, and I believe that it is a must watch for those who want a full knowledge of American history. While the intended audience is most likely those who are torn on what stance to take on the use of nuclear arms and already know who Robert McNamara is, I would also recommend it to the younger generation of high school and college students.
January 30, 2019
This film highlights Robert McNamara's career during the Vietnam war. It was slightly confusing and difficult to form an opinion on McNamara since the film reveals his influence and involvement during a violent war, but he seems to continually defend himself throughout the film. Seeing McNamara cry and be put in a vulnerable situation in front of the camera makes me believe that he really has been affected by the war and found that period of his life to be saddening even though he was successful at the same time. Errol Morris, the director, uses many rhetorical strategies in his film to display his opinions and set a mood of sadness and destruction during the Vietnam war. Morris used many clips from the war with dramatic music playing in the background, voice overs over clips of newspaper headlines, interviews McNamara in person, and uses symbols and animated imagery to represent issues that occured at that time.
Overall, this film was sad but educational and meant for an audience with a background understanding of the Vietnam war. I found MorrisÔ(TM)s film techniques very influential in the way of persuading the audience to believe one side over another and would recommend this film to be shown in history or language classes for either the educational side of the Vietnam war and what went down, or the rhetorical strategies side.
April 23, 2018
Truly humanizing account of a man likely perceived by many as a war criminal.
½ December 14, 2017
The Fog of War is an excellent examination of humanity, putting war under the microscope and raising questions about the often blurred line between politics and morality.
November 10, 2017
Beste dokumentar jeg har sett pň lenge. Fascinerende!
April 8, 2017
A deserved Oscar winner, as much for the way Errol Morris assembles his footage as for its protagonist's sometimes tortured analysis of the impossible choices any leader faces when confronted by war. McNamara served under Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis, and Johnson during the Vietnam war. In his eighties when this documentary was made, his intellect and analytic skills would be astonishing in someone half his age. I hope Trump has a copy by his TV.
February 14, 2017
This is a very honest film. McNamara tells his life as he sees it without bragging or apologizing, without claiming anything he has done was either right or wrong. McNamara simply tells you his decisions, why he made such decisions at the time, and what he has learned looking back on them. It's a sobering film to watch with the weight of atrocities carried out by the US, but it's even more troubling wondering if we'd do anything differently given a second chance. War is not easy.
November 22, 2016
Essential life lessons
June 29, 2016
Great movie particularly when McNamara admits his strategy for the was was wrong. It only took 35+ years to admit they were wrong. I would imagine the immolation of Norman Morrison must have haunted McNamara for years. I hope Secretary McNamara is now finally at peace.
April 23, 2016
Not only was it fairly educational (at least for me, anyway), but 'Fog of War' was also honest. More specifically, its subject, Robert McNamara was honest. As a result this is a unique look at warfare and its consequences from one of the men who was involved in many of America's conflicts.

The film certainly works to the emotions, given how horrible a subject war is, and yet it never feels like an attack on either McNamara or even the conflicts that he was involved in. Instead, there's a real sense of engaging with the issues on both sides and, whether you follow McNamara's world view or not, you can't help but understand it. Is war inevitable and, if so, what responsibilities do we have towards our fellow humans when we conduct it? Heavy questions indeed but ones that shouldn't be avoided.
November 6, 2015
Revealing truth of being in the front line of war being a human.
August 17, 2015
An extremely informative and interesting history lesson that is more than just a history lesson. Another powerful Errol Morris masterwork!
May 20, 2015
Should be required viewing in history class.
½ May 9, 2015
Wonderful engaging and insightful. So much wisdom and frank reflection. Comes across as a likable man doing impossible work. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
½ April 26, 2015
Interesting view on the shortcomings of modern military policy.
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