MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 1,631 this week

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

PG-13  |   |  Documentary, History, War  |  14 January 2004 (France)
8.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 17,825 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 153 user | 142 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 $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

IMDb Picks: April

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in April.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 41 titles
created 10 Apr 2012
 
a list of 22 titles
created 14 Jun 2013
 
a list of 26 titles
created 03 Feb 2014
 
a list of 28 titles
created 10 months ago
 
a list of 25 titles
created 9 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 12 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

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 | 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
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 7.5/10 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
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
The Dark Wind (1991)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A Navajo police officer is mixed up in drug smuggling and murder on the reservation.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Lance Baker, Betty C. Barlow, Gary Basaraba
First Person (TV Series 2000)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

Amazing series primarily using Errol Morris' invention the Interrotron for unusual people to tell their outré stories directly into the camera to the viewer. Almost every half-hour ... See full summary »

Stars: Errol Morris, Michael Stone, Charles Butler
Horror | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 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
The Heist (TV Movie 2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Duke zealot recounts the night Michael Jordan's retired North Carolina jersey was seized. This is Errol Morris's second of six shorts for ESPN Films.

Director: Errol Morris
Chrome (TV Movie 2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

For Steve Coburn, California Chrome was a literal dream come true. In Errol Morris's fifth of six shorts for ESPN Films, we meet the passionate owner of the horse who nearly became the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

Director: Errol Morris
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

The "Eleven Lessons" listed in the film are as follows:
  • 1. Empathize with your enemy.


  • 2. Rationality will not save us.


  • 3. There's something beyond one's self.


  • 4. Maximize efficiency.


  • 5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war.


  • 6. Get the data.


  • 7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.


  • 8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.


  • 9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.


  • 10. Never say never.


  • 11. You can't change human nature.


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 The 2004 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

mostly McNamara, but just enough Morris to make it a masterpiece
8 November 2004 | by (Bozeman, Montana) – See all my reviews

People who watch Errol Morris' Fog of War will be left with a lot to think about. There are a number of parallels to be drawn between what Americans faced during the Vietnam War era and what Americans face now with middle-east conflicts. Morris has directed several controversial documentaries, but Fog of War is very different. He allows the subject of the documentary, Robert McNamara, to remain the focus of the film from beginning to end. Fog of War is very stylish but the artistic features don't take away from the social and political commentary. Instead, they add to it and make the film more enjoyable. This is an important film and while McNamara deserves most the credit for its success, Morris presented the content of this film in a way that made it both provocative and entertaining.

When Morris had an opportunity to interview Robert McNamara, he had no idea what was about to happen. Morris was making a film about Vietnam, not McNamara specifically. However, what was intended to be a 20 minute interview turned into a several hour candid conversation. This interview turned conversation became the backbone of Fog of War. It is obvious that something like guilt has been bugging McNamara and for whatever reason, Morris brought it out.

As a former secretary of defense for John F. Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson, McNamara was one of the most important figures from the Vietnam War, in charge of things like bombing campaigns and overall military strategy. Before that, McNamara was a brain behind figuring out how to kill lots of people in World War II. At one point, McNamara says directly to the camera, '…we were behaving as war criminals. What makes it moral if you win but immoral if you lose?' He's making a point about the way the U.S. and allied forces bombed the hell out of Japan, sending hundreds of thousands to fiery graves, mostly civilians.

Morris uses what he calls the 'Interrotron', a device which allows the subject, here it's McNamara, to look directly into the camera and see the interviewer, here that's Morris. To the audience, it seems like McNamara is looking right at us, which makes it seem even more confessional than it already is. At certain times in Fog of War, McNamara seems so happy that he has an opportunity to talk about his experiences, but at other times, he seems like he's so defensive about his reputation. All of that seems to have something to do with the way Errol Morris asks questions. Morris is friendly but asks pointed questions that McNamara has a tough time avoiding.

Probably the most important moment of Fog of War is when McNamara talks about mankind and its inability to learn from history. He seems very pessimistic but has moments where he seems to think people can learn from the past. It's easy to think about Donald Rumsfeld and wonder what sort of conversations he might have with McNamara. Another great moment in Fog of War is when McNamara gets to meet a general from the Vietnamese army, one of McNamara's adversaries from 30 years ago. It's then where we see that McNamara still doesn't accept much responsibility for what he did during the Vietnam War. He thinks of himself as just being an employee working for the president.

Fog of War makes people think about a lot, but that's because of Robert McNamara more than Errol Morris. This was McNamara's film and Morris just happened to hold the camera in place when he probably felt like cringing or even laughing at times. During his famous acceptance speech for Fog of War, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Morris reminded the worldwide audience to be careful, because the United States seems to be making the same mistakes it made during the Vietnam War. That's up to the audience to decide, but Fog of War definitely makes everybody think about that.


65 of 72 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