8.2/10
18,882
153 user 142 critic

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

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 Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 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
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 | Drama
    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 | 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
    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
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
Tabloid (2010)
Documentary | Crime
    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 | 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 | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

Directors: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott
Stars: Mikela Jay, Rob Beckwermert, Christopher Gora
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James
Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates
Documentary | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Lucille Billingsley, Zella Graham, Cal Harberts
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 »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 March 2004 (USA)  »

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

The Family
(uncredited)
by Philip Glass
Ocean Mountain Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The parallel to the war in Iraq is painful.
3 March 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Errol Morris's `Fog of War' may be the best documentary that fuses a controversial historical figure (in this case, Robert McNamara) with his grandest moment (The Vietnam War). `Grand' is ironic because 58,000 dead soldiers cannot be `grand,' the US exit was hardly so, and McNamara's ambivalence about the event and his responsibility give the film an authenticity and humanity that last year was shared only with `Capturing the Friedmans.'

Morris, letting McNamara narrate almost the entire film, cuts between the fit 85 year old Aspen skier recollecting the ‘60's and 70's and footage from that time when he served as secretary of defense under Kennedy and Johnson. That he is a Harvard--educated, clean-cut, brainy bureaucrat easily changing from leading Ford Motor Company to the Pentagon is obvious. That he allowed the US to go deeper into the war than he personally believed it should is a possible inference from his carefully-crafted dialogue about `responsibility.'

He has no problem admitting his major role in firebombing Tokyo in WWII, killing 100,000 Japanese in one night; his boss, General Curtis LeMay, would have had it no other way. But when he almost wistfully speculates that President Kennedy would not have let the war escalate, it is clear what McNamara also wished. But why he didn't criticize the war after he left the Johnson administration he let's us speculate, hinting only that he had information we don't.

Throughout the interview (Morris now and then is heard asking questions, especially about McNamara's responsibility), Morris keeps him in the right side of the frame, off center as a metaphor for the confusing war and this secretary's ambivalent role. Like any top-rate documentary, applications to human nature and current events abound. The cool necessary to operate under murderous circumstances is reflected in this wonk's slick hair, rimless glasses, and self-serving dialogue. He is animated when he most seems to have missed the point and embraces the romance of evil, which one of his `lessons' says may be necessary to have in order to do good. The parallel to the war in Iraq is painful. He warns in his first `lesson' we must learn from our mistakes. The inference for us could be, if Vietnam was a great mistake, why are we forgetting it again.

For the former secretary, Ernie Pyle's words could hold special meaning: `War makes strange giant creatures out of us little routine men who inhabit the earth.'


27 of 36 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
How many rules did Bush break (or upheld)? nod2

Contribute to This Page