MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 697 this week

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

8.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 16,942 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 153 user | 140 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A film about the former US Secretary of Defense and the various difficult lessons he learned about the nature and conduct of modern war.

Director:

Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 28 titles
created 03 Mar 2011
 
a list of 49 titles
created 26 Feb 2012
 
a list of 40 titles
created 29 Jan 2013
 
a list of 32 titles
created 25 Aug 2013
 
a list of 36 titles
created 4 months ago
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

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

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) on IMDb 8.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

User Polls

Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Crime | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Errol Morris examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Megan Ambuhl Graner, Javal Davis, Ken Davis
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Fred A. Leuchter Jr., Robert Jan Van Pelt, David Irving
Documentary | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Donald Rumsfeld, Errol Morris
Tabloid (2010)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A documentary on a former Miss Wyoming who is charged with abducting and imprisoning a young Mormon Missionary.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Joyce McKinney, Peter Tory, Troy Williams
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

What do an elderly topiary gardener, a retired lion tamer, a man fascinated by mole rats, and a cutting-edge robotics designer have in common? Both nothing and everything in this ... See full summary »

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Dave Hoover, George Mendonça, Rodney Brooks
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A comprehensive look at the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war and its occupation of the country.

Director: Charles Ferguson
Stars: Campbell Scott, Gerald Burke, Ali Fadhil
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the ... See full summary »

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Albert Bitterling, Roscoe Collins, George Harris
Why We Fight (2005)
Documentary | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.

Director: Eugene Jarecki
Stars: Gore Vidal, John McCain, Ken Adelman
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A film about the life and work of the cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who despite his near total paralysis, is one of the great minds of all time.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Stephen Hawking, Isobel Hawking, Janet Humphrey
Horror | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

John Millhouse has just returned home after four years of service in The United States Army. He wants nothing more than to return to a 'normal' life, but the horrors of war and his never ... See full summary »

Director: Les Norris
Stars: Benhur Sito Barrero, Adam Fortner, Katie Mackey
Documentary | Short | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Short film documentary about the mysterious umbrella man that appears in the Zapruder film during the assassination of president John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963, November 22.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Josiah Thompson
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
...
Himself
Edit

Storyline

Documentary about Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, who subsequently became president of the World Bank. The documentary combines an interview with Mr. McNamara discussing some of the tragedies and glories of the 20th Century, archival footage, documents, and an original score by Philip Glass. Written by Richard Latham

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for images and thematic issues of war and destruction | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 January 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Fog of War  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$41,449 (USA) (19 December 2003)

Gross:

$4,193,943 (USA) (14 May 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Errol Morris invented a device called the Interrotron not for this film. He did indeed use the Interrortron, but he invented it several years earlier, and has used it on several of his other films. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Per contact at the Errol Morris Foundation, the date is 8/5/1964, and the clip is from Press Conference on The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, National Archives #111-LC-48220]
Robert McNamara: [archival footage from the press conference on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, 5 August 1964] Is this chart at a reasonable height for you? Or do you want it lowered? All right. Earlier tonight - first let me ask the TV, are you ready? All set?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Director of Officeland Security: Jackpot Junior See more »

Connections

Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #20.5 (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Target Destruction
(uncredited)
by Philip Glass
Ocean Mountain Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Fascinating and Compelling
9 February 2004 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Educated in the best Ivy League schools, successful leaders in the business world, they were the best and the brightest, the core of John F. Kennedy's administration. They came to office in 1961 with high hopes that the world would become a better place. When they left, these expectations lay shattered amidst the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam. Considered the architect of what came to be known as "McNamara's War", Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense under both Kennedy and Johnson, was one of the brightest but had the reputation of being aloof and arrogant. This public image, however, may not have been the whole story. In the fascinating Oscar-nominated documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Dr. Death) interviews the now 86-year old Defense Secretary in an effort to come to terms with what led to the quagmire of Vietnam and reveals a more complex, even strangely sympathetic man.

Interspersed with archival footage, actual news broadcasts, and tape-recorded conversations from the period, the interview documents McNamara's personal account of his involvement with American policy from WW II to the 1960s. Culled from 20 hours of tape, the interview is separated into eleven segments corresponding to lessons learned during his life such as "Empathize with your enemy", and "Rationality will not save us". The Secretary does not apologize for the war, saying he was only trying to serve an elected President but is willing to admit his mistakes. He says that he now realizes the Vietnam conflict was considered by the North Vietnamese to be a civil war and that they were fighting for the independence of their country from colonialism, (something opponents of the war had been trying to tell him for over five years). Morris never undercuts McNamara's dignity or pushes him into a corner yet also does not slide troubling questions under the rug and there are some questions McNamara does not want to discuss.

Though his reputation is that of a hawk, previously unheard tape-recorded conversations between McNamara and both Presidents reveal that he urged caution and opposed the continued escalation of the Vietnam War. In 1964, we hear Johnson say. "I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statements about withdrawing, but you and the President thought otherwise, and I just sat silent." McNamara also discusses his role in World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his accomplishments as President of the Ford Motor Company. In talking about Cuba, he reveals how close the world came to nuclear annihilation, saved only by the offhand suggestion by an underling. McNamara repeats over and over again, demonstrating with his fingers, how close we all came to nuclear war. He talks openly about his involvement in World War II under General Curtis Le and how he helped plan the firebombing of 67 Japanese cities including Tokyo in which 100,000 Japanese civilians were killed. In a startling admission, he says that if the allies had not won the war, both he and Le May could have been tried as war criminals.

Mr. McNamara has spoken out a bit late to save the lives of 50,000 Americans and several million Vietnamese but at least he has spoken and we can learn from his reflections. Though the Secretary does not apologize for the war, saying he was only trying to serve an elected President, to his credit he has looked at the corrosiveness of war and what it does to the human soul and we are left with the sense of a man who has come a long way. While his lesson that "In order to do good, one may have to do evil" sounds suspiciously like "the end justifies the means", his sentiments are clear that the U.S. should never invade another country without the support of its friends and allies. He says, "We are the strongest nation in the world today", he says, "and I do not believe we should ever apply that economic, political or military power unilaterally. If we'd followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn't have been there. None of our allies supported us. If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we'd better re-examine our reasoning." A valuable lesson indeed.


67 of 74 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Am I the only one bothered by the targeting of 'wooden houses' of Tokyo Errand
Tried for War Crimes? kgrayson
would rumsfeld do one of these? Main14
best documentaries. meeyakey22
Rule 2. - G W BUSH jnr am96
name of airfield where workers were rolled over by 5 ton rollers submerged99

Contribute to This Page