out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Fog Of War
Starring: Errol Morris|
Director: Errol Morris
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: February 2004
Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4
This documentary is subtitled "Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S.
McNamara" and divided into sections, separated by the trenchant observations by
the former U.S. defense secretary who served under Presidents John F. Kennedy
and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s. Now in his late '80s, he has often been
accused of masterminding the Vietnam War, which cost more than 58,000 American
lives and, according to McNamara, 3.4 million Vietnamese lives.
The gist of McNamara's reflections is that - in wartime - those in power
really don't know much about what's happening. For example, during the 1962
Cuban missile crisis, the White House received two conflicting messages from
Nikita Khrushchev. Through "blind luck" - and advice by Soviet Union Ambassador
Llewellyn Thompson - Kennedy was able to avoid a nuclear disaster. McNamara is
also candid about the United States erroneously believing that the Vietnam
conflict was part of the Cold War, rather than a new chapter in a long-standing
colonial war on Asian soil. And he implies eerie Vietnam-Iraq parallels in the
current war on terror.
Filmmaker Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line") utilizes taped White House
conversations and archival newsreel footage that is cleverly intercut with a
lucid one-on-one interview with the thoughtful and articulate McNamara, whose
views are punctuated by Philip Glass's insistent score. The title derives from
McNamara's assertion that "war is so complex (that) we cannot comprehend all
the variables." Our human errors only become clear in hindsight. On the Granger
Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Fog of War" is an unnerving, ambivalent 8,
particularly recommended for history buffs and those interested in 20th century
American foreign policy.
Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger
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