Projections - Movie Reviews

The Fog of War
The Fog of War

Academy Award winner The Fog of War provides quite a bit of sharp recollection from former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara as Errol Morris' fascinating documentary covers much more than the Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Bay of Pigs invasion.

Morris, revered for documentaries like The Thin Blue Line, gives the lucid 85-year-old McNamara the spotlight to express opinions about his political career and caution on what he upheld during his tenor. The film's subtitle includes NcNamara's “Eleven Lessons” among them are: “empathize with your enemy, Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning, and in order to do good you may have to engage in evil.”

Many might think that there is nothing new here given all the material and biographies written about him. Yet, the ace documentarian unveils the intricacies of fresh ideas simmering from taped White House conversations between McNamara and President Johnson.

This well-balanced expose shows how McNamara followed his American dream to achieve political clout and looks at his tenets formed from World War II policies. He's frank about how he should be remembered with some moral issues presented that sobers a fabled existence.

The detail of the man who was such a political heavyweight under Johnson and JFK during 1961-68 is stylishly blended using TV and archival footage, along with recreations using vibrant interview pieces edited form 20 hours of frank taped discussions with McNamara. The “interrotron” device is effectively used during the “new” interviews in a way that has the former Defense Secretary viewing the audience and Morris himself at the same time.

Many will be taken aback by the part he played in WWII fire-bombing scores of Japanese cities prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Morris splices this surprising news with footage of the startling airborne action. And, he mentions that if the Allies weren't victorious he might have gone on trial as a war criminal. Philip Glass' haunting music adds to the dramatization of such events.

McNamara keenly delves into the implication of the Cuban Missile Crisis from a standpoint of pressure to use devices that could create huge mushroom clouds as seen in Thirteen Days. Essentially, the ideals of someone who has wrestled through so much turbulence goes beyond the understanding and judgment of the world's superpower. The Fog of War isn't afraid to comment about what those in command did and Morris' rare gift takes into account those economic, military, and political elements figuring into a unilateral path to destruction.

The Fog of War



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