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

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The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara.


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



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Cast overview:


Former corporate whiz kid Robert McNamara was the controversial Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, during the height of the Vietnam War. This Academy Award-winning documentary, augmented by archival footage, gives the conflicted McNamara a platform on which he attempts to confront his and the U.S. government's actions in Southeast Asia in light of the horrors of modern warfare, the end of ideology and the punitive judgment of history. Written by Jwelch5742

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





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)


$4,193,943 (USA) (14 May 2004)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


McNamara originally agreed to an hour-long interview for the Errol Morris PBS series, First Person (2000). The interview lasted eight hours and McNamara stayed for a second day of interviewing. He also returned months later, for two more days of interviews. Morris found himself with more than enough material for a feature-length documentary. See more »


[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?
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Crazy Credits

Director of Officeland Security: Jackpot Junior See more »


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


Gulf of Tonkin
by Philip Glass
Ocean Mountain Music
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User Reviews

Honest Account of Important Lessons Learned
8 June 2004 | by (Olathe, KS, USA) – See all my reviews

I just watched the movie the "Fog of War". It is a candid interview with Robert McNamara. He is an 85 year old veteran of WWII and was Secretary of Defense under John Kennedy and Lydon Johnson. Of course, that made him Secretary during the Viet Nam war.

It is an amazing account of the lessons learned from a man who lived in interesting times in a powerful position of influence. I get the sense that it is exceptionally honest - about both the success and failures. It was directed by Earl Morris and has a kind of refreshing balance that is NOT present in the films of Michael Moore. I highly recommend this movie.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the movie is that the lessons McNamara learned are still not understood by the Bush administration with respect to the Iraq conflict. The parallels to that conflict and the conflict in Iraq are scary. Once of the eleven enumerated lessons are a need to respect and understand the culture of the people with whom you are engaged in conflict. He made the statement that he believes that the reason that the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 ended peacefully was that they reached a point where they really tried to understand the Soviets. The reason that Viet Nam failed is that we never learned to understand the culture of the people of Viet Nam. He also mentioned that none of our allies with largely shared values were opposed to our involvement in Viet Nam. We should have recognized that as a warning sign that perhaps we were doing something wrong.

Scary, isn't it!

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