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

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The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara -- Academy Award(r)-winner for Best Documentary Feature, THE FOG OF WAR is the story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President Kennedy and President Johnson, Robert S. McNamara.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara -- A film about the former US Secretary of Defense and the various difficult lessons he learned about the nature and conduct of modern war.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara -- HV post

Overview

User Rating:
8.2/10   17,827 votes »
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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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View company contact information for The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 January 2004 (France) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
A film about the former US Secretary of Defense and the various difficult lessons he learned about the nature and conduct of modern war. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Won Oscar. Another 12 wins & 9 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Flawed but still relentlessly interesting See more (153 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

Robert McNamara ... Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Fidel Castro ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Barry Goldwater ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Lyndon Johnson ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

John F. Kennedy ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Nikita Khrushchev ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Curtis LeMay ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Errol Morris ... Interviewer (voice) (uncredited)

Richard Nixon ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Harry Reasoner ... Himself - TV interviewer (archive footage) (uncredited)

Franklin D. Roosevelt ... Himself (voice) (archive footage) (uncredited)
Woodrow Wilson ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Errol Morris 
 
Produced by
Julie Ahlberg .... producer
Robert Fernandez .... co-producer
Jon Kamen .... executive producer
Adam Kosberg .... associate producer
Jack Lechner .... executive producer
Robert May .... executive producer
Errol Morris .... producer
Ann Petrone .... associate producer
Frank Scherma .... executive producer
John Sloss .... executive producer
Michael Williams .... producer
 
Original Music by
Philip Glass (original music by)
 
Cinematography by
Robert Chappell (director of photography) (as Bob Chappell)
Peter Donahue (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Doug Abel (edited by)
Chyld King (edited by)
Karen Schmeer (edited by)
 
Production Design by
Ted Bafaloukos 
Steve Hardie 
 
Set Decoration by
Liz Chiz 
 
Makeup Department
Donyale McRae .... make-up
Maria Scali .... makeup: interviews
 
Production Management
Tonya Bertram .... production supervisor
Brad Fuller .... post production supervisor
Sarah Gold .... production supervisor: China
Dia Sokol Savage .... production supervisor (as Dia Sokol)
Ben Schneider .... production supervisor: Berlin shoot (uncredited)
Ronald Vietz .... production manager: Germany (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lennie Appelquist .... first assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Jennifer Ho .... art department coordinator
Steve McNulty .... art director: interviews
Gary Shartsis .... property master
Chris Tragert .... prop assistant
Daniel Turk .... construction coordinator (as Dan Turk)
Jim Utter .... leadman
 
Sound Department
Coll Anderson .... supervising sound editor
Dan Bora .... additional engineer
Stephen Bores .... production sound mixer: interviews (as Steve Bores)
Brian Bowles .... dialogue editor
Hector Castillo .... recording engineer
Lee Dichter .... re-recording mixer
Sean Garnhart .... sound effects editor
Harry Higgins .... recordist
Terrance Laudermilch .... recordist (as Terry Laudermilch)
Ichiho Nishiki .... technical assistant
Tom Paul .... sound designer
Christian Rutledge .... production assistant: sound department
Marilyn Teorey .... assistant sound editor
Sean Garnhart .... sound re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Daniel Perlin .... sound effects editor (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Robin Hobart .... visual effects supervisor
Zachary Morong .... 3D animator
Evan Olson .... animation
Evan Olson .... visual effects
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Sumaya Agha .... still photographer: interviews
Martin Albert .... gaffer: interviews
Dave Cambria .... gaffer: interviews
Steve Cardellini .... key grip
John Cardoni .... gaffer
Tim Carr .... key grip
Joe Christofori .... first camera assistant: interviews
Gregory Daniels Jr. .... first assistant camera (as Greg Daniels)
Elsa Dorfman .... portrait photographer: interviews
Claire Folger .... still photographer: interviews
Aaron Kaikko .... video assistant
Roger Marbury .... key grip: interviews
Robert Ragozzine .... first assistant camera (as Bob Ragozzine)
John Raugalis .... gaffer (as John Ragaulis)
Daisy Smith .... second assistant camera
Timothy M. Sweeney .... second camera assistant: interviews (as Tim Sweeney)
Peter Thomas .... gaffer
Brett Van Ort .... second assistant camera
Frans Wetterings III .... best boy: interviews (as Frans Weterrings)
Billy Witherington .... best boy grip (as Bill Witherington)
Eric Zimmerman .... first assistant camera
Glenn Corbett .... best boy (uncredited)
Tyrone Hoogendyk .... dolly grip: Germany (uncredited)
Charlie Newberry .... camera loader: Washington D.C. (uncredited)
Mark Walpole .... second assistant camera: Washington D.C. (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eddie Marquez .... wardrobe
Critter Pierce .... wardrobe assistant
Julie Vogel .... wardrobe
 
Editorial Department
Eric Alvarado .... digital intermediate systems colorist
Steven Hathaway .... associate editor
Peter Heady .... high definition on-line editor
Fred Heid .... color timer
Danny Hogan .... editorial assistant: io (as Dan Hogan)
Tom Karras .... colorist assistant
Dan Mooney .... associate editor (as Daniel Mooney)
Benjamin Murray .... digital intermediate titling
Charles Silver .... editorial consultant
Joe Violante .... coordinator: Technicolor
Tricia Wilk .... post-production assistant
 
Music Department
Cat Celebrezze .... associate music producer
Don Christiansen .... producer: CD soundtrack
Jim Keller .... executive music producer
John Kusiak .... additional music
Nico Muhly .... score preparation
Kurt Munkacsi .... music producer
Ichiho Nishiki .... music assistant
Michael Riesman .... musical director
 
Other crew
Christian Akers .... production assistant
Jamie Anschultz .... production assistant
Heidi August .... production accountant
Sarah Belanger .... intern
Kara Bilof .... studio manager
James Blight .... special advisor
Paul Brennan .... production counsel: Sloss Law Office
John Cefalu .... location manager
Karen Corsica .... production coordinator: interviews
Jeff Crocker .... research assistant (as Jeffery Crocker)
Matthew Davey .... laser film recording: Arri
Christopher Fadale .... technical supervisor: interviews (as Chris Fadale)
Joe Harley .... intern
Kevin Hayes .... production coordinator
Peter Heady .... io data editorial
Paul Hu .... photo: McNamara and Nguyen Co Thach
Jeff Huston .... laser film recording: Arri
Claire Jones .... research assistant
Chris Kasick .... assistant to the director (as Chris 'Ox' Kasick)
Dan Kemp .... location manager
Katherine Kim .... intern
Jason Kohn .... research assistant
Alex Kreuter .... graphics supervisor
Jeff Krulik .... research assistant
Janet Lang .... special advisor
John Latenser V .... location manager
Paul Loram .... research assistant
Justin Milner .... intern
Nico Muhly .... assistant: to Philip Glass & Michael Riesman
Ann Petrone .... archival research supervisor
Dina Marie Piscatelli .... production coordinator
Luke Poling .... production assistant
Andy Rice .... research assistant
Justin Rice .... assistant to the director
Ben Schneider .... assistant to production
Julia Sheehan .... special advisor
John Sloss .... production counsel: Sloss Law Office
Tim Spitzer .... executive producer: HD & data services
Shawn Tabor .... military consultant
Shawn Tabor .... research assistant
Jared Washburn .... office production assistant
 
Thanks
James Blight .... acknowledgment: archival footage and photographs provided by
Tim Bono .... special thanks
John Canaday .... special thanks
Jonny Cranson .... special thanks
Frances Fitzgerald .... special thanks
Ellen Fitzpatrick .... special thanks
Chris Florio .... special thanks
Deborah Fortson .... special thanks
Jim Gardner .... special thanks
Jane Gillooly .... special thanks
Harvey Goldberg .... in memory of: University of Wisconsin history professor
Alfred Guzzetti .... special thanks
Peter Hall .... special thanks
Alison Harris .... special thanks
Steven Harris .... special thanks
Paul Jankowski .... special thanks
Caroline Kaplan .... very special thanks
Alice Kelikian .... special thanks
Craig McNamara .... acknowledgment: archival footage and photographs provided by
Craig McNamara .... special thanks
George L. Mosse .... in memory of: University of Wisconsin history professor
Jamie Mylar .... special thanks
Tom O'Malley .... special thanks
Kenn Rabin .... special thanks
Deborah Ricketts .... special thanks
Ron Rosenbaum .... special thanks
Jay Rubin .... special thanks
Elizabeth Sadoff .... special thanks
Jonathan Sehring .... very special thanks
Gary Stern .... special thanks
Rosemary Taylor .... special thanks
Kathryn Tucker .... special thanks
Patricia Vanderbeek .... special thanks
Lawrence Waschler .... special thanks
Lewis D. Wheeler .... special thanks (as Lewis Wheeler)
Bonnie Willette .... special thanks
Kyla Wilson .... special thanks
Dino Zervos .... special thanks
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Fog of War" - International (English title), USA (short title)
See more »
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for images and thematic issues of war and destruction
Runtime:
95 min | USA:107 min (theatrical version)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) (TV)See more »
Soundtrack:
Across the WorldSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
50 out of 62 people found the following review useful.
Flawed but still relentlessly interesting, 27 June 2004
Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom

At the age of 87, Robert S. McNamara sits to be interviewed by documentary maker Errol Morris. He relates his experiences over his lifetime and talks about his success and his failures and the lessons he has learnt. Starting out as the youngest professor at Harvard university, McNamara talks about his drafting into a special unit during WW2 where bombing sorties were statistically analysed and looking for improvements. The team's findings and recommendations resulted in a change of bombing strategy that was so efficient that it killed 1.9 civilians in 67 Japanese cities. Following the war he carried these same skills to accident and sales analysis for Ford before becoming JFK's Secretary of Defence. It was in this position that he publicly advocated the Vietnam War which led to the deaths of 47378 US soldiers and over 2 million North Vietnamese.

I came to this film with high expectations of it being very barbed and sharp. I didn't know who McNamara was prior to this film but I was very quickly able to get a feel for him through the old footage, even if I doubt I held the clear view of him that many Americans do of him when he was in office. The film is mostly him talking to camera and this appears to have been its main weakness in one regard as well as being its main strength. In terms of strength, this approach gives us the intimacy of a conversation with McNamara and, while he is very guarded and clearly still very careful about how he presents himself, I found some of the statements he made to be quite honest and damning. However at the same time it seems like Morris has simply had a long list of topics and just left the camera running while he lets McNamara chat – creating two problems.

The first problem is the '11 lessons' aspects; these feel like an afterthought – some way of giving a conversation a structure. However they don't all work as the headings don't always fit what is being said and it causes McNamara to jump around a little bit (time wise). Talking of jumping around – the long shoots that Morris must have had must have produced very long sentences for he has had to edit them down almost into cuts of a few words and, as McNamara is an animated talker it means that he jump-cuts all over the shop – very distracting and hard on the eyes at some points! Despite these problems the film still works because it is consistently interesting. McNamara seems happy to talk and he is very easy to listen to even with Morris' frantic editing. While I was aware that he was still the same name who had professionally glossed over a lot of things (and at times refused to get into things in the interview) he did say some things that surprised me with his honesty. For example, admitting that, had the Allies lost WW2, those involved in the firebombing of Japanese cities would likely have been tried for war crimes was a shock and was only one of several similar statements he made. However these are rather offset by how careful he is to not blame himself too much and to rather justify what he did; the film helps him out a bit as well and seems to go rather lightly on him. The only thing that makes this acceptable is that Morris has gotten his hands on recently released White House records and tapes that back up McNamara's claims that he was not totally in support of Vietnam (although how he has the nerve to wear a dove on his lapel is beyond me!) and the recordings of ex-presidents in conversation are worth hearing.

This painting of history makes the film very effective as a sobering look back at historical conflict. The most unnerving part of the film for me was McNamara's continued assertions that the men involved were all 'rational men' and not crazy James Bond villains. The fact that these rational men came 'this close' to nuclear war is a very scary thought. Similarly, other memories of his are quite scary but funny at the same time – in the same way as Dr Strangelove was for example. In fact one memory sounds like it could have come straight from the mouth of General 'Buck' Turgidson himself and that's where McNamara suggests that the US could keep its missile advantage over Russia by imposing a mutual limit on testing – only to be told that the Russians would cheat by 'testing on the dark side of the moon'! At that moment Turgidson's line about a mine shaft gap did not seem so fanciful!

Although his points were not as sharp and relevant towards today's Administration as I had expected it was still pretty interesting as a look back with hindsight and, while he is far from broken about what he has been involved in, he certainly is not too proud to look back and judge the overall actions that occurred (even if he was reluctant to accept any more than a little bit of responsibility for his part). He is a great subject though and, like many men who have lived a life, is worth listening to even if you get the impression that he is not as reflective as he think he is. Morris is pretty much an off screen presence for the whole film, only really being heard once or twice prompting for more information.

Overall this is a must see documentary simply because it picks back over the bones of some terrible conflicts and some terrible events and we do it with one of the men who was part of plans and decisions that killed millions. I would have liked him to be pressed more about this (he cries over JFK's death but not over the millions killed in 'his' war) but the film goes a little too easy on him, even supplying us with White House tapes that back up McNamara's claims that he was often a voice of reason – certainly JFK's immediate successor is very critical of him in a phone conversation. The lack of real structure is a big problem and it may have better to pick another tack than the 11 lesson thing – it doesn't really work and it causes some of the film to feel rather aimless and disappointing when his words don't actually match the 'lesson'. However, for all it's flaws, the film is consistently interesting and I could honestly have sat there for hours and just listened to McNamara talk away – he is a mystery and has carved out a terrible place in history but he is also a big reason that this documentary is well worth seeing at least once.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Lesson #11 'You can't change human nature' is wrong. CougherNL
would rumsfeld do one of these? Main14
Flat out Brilliant chris-1149
No Allied support ? Really kittyandme-412-615199
Am I the only one bothered by the targeting of 'wooden houses' of Tokyo Errand
What is it that McNamara isn't saying in the epilogue? albin-morner
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