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The Fog Of War [DVD] [2004]

Robert McNamara , John F. Kennedy , Errol Morris    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
Price: 4.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater
  • Directors: Errol Morris
  • Producers: Errol Morris, Adam Kosberg, Ann Petrone, Frank Scherma, Jack Lechner
  • Format: Subtitled, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Aug 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002849HA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,177 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The Fog of War, the movie that finally won Errol Morris the best documentary Oscar, is a spellbinder. Morris interviews Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and finds a uniquely unsettling viewpoint on much of 20th-century American history. Employing a ton of archival material, including Lyndon B Johnson's fascinating taped conversations from the Oval Office, Morris probes the reasons behind the U.S. commitment to the Vietnam War--and finds a depressingly inconsistent policy. McNamara himself emerges as--well, not exactly apologetic, but clearly haunted by the what-ifs of Vietnam. He also mulls the bombing of Japan in World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis, raising more questions than he answers. The Fog of War has the usual inexorable Morris momentum, aided by an uneasy Philip Glass score. This movie provides a glimpse inside government. It also encourages skepticism about same. --Robert Horton

On the DVD The Fog of War DVD piles on 24 additional scenes (38 minutes total). They're short and random, but those interested in the film will find it worthwhile to hear McNamara discuss what it was like to work with JFK and who he feels was ultimately responsible for Vietnam. There's also a text-only list entitled "Robert S. McNamara's 10 Lessons," which he introduces by saying that the 11 lessons in the movie were not his own. Some of them, however, are not that different (movie lesson no. 1: "Empathize with your enemy." McNamara lesson no. 9: "If we are to deal effectively with terrorists around the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy--I don't mean 'sympathy,' but rather 'understanding'--to counter their attacks on us and the Western world."). --David Horiuchi

Product Description

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. McNamara was one of the most controversial and influential political figures ofthe 20th century. Now - for the first time ever - he sits down one on one with award-winning director Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line) to offer a candid and intimate journey through some of the mostseminal events in contemporary American history. As leader of the world's most powerful military force during this nation's most volatile period in recent years, McNamara offers new and often surprising insights into the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the effects of the Vietnam War. Featuring newly released Oval Office recorded conversations with Presidents John F. Kennedyand Lyndon B. Johnson, THE FOG OF WAR received critical acclaim for its up-close and personal insider

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Throughout 4 Aug 2004
Robert McNamara served as Secretary of Defense for seven years under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (his middle name is Strange) is a documentary by Errol Morris in which McNamara talks about his life, his actions during World War Two, his involvement in the Cold War, and - perhaps most fascinatingly - his role in the escalation of the war in Vietnam.
In terms of technique, the film is excellent. This is a film about a serious subject, but it is also a film serious about its art. Morris exploits fully the advantages of cinema as a medium, both aurally and visually. Sound is used to evoke a perpetually ominous atmosphere, and the original score, composed by Philip Glass, is complementary without ever becoming intrusive. The images hold the eye without obscuring the facts being communicated: there is a particularly good series of close-up shots of retro reel-to-reel tape players used as a backdrop to recorded conversations (the Whitehouse Tapes) between McNamara and his two Presidents; and one very effective montage shows simply the names of bombed Japanese cities juxtaposed with the names of American cities of an equivalent size. (I had never considered that Tokyo was about as big as New York.)
But it is the footage of McNamara himself that really holds the attention of the audience. Morris has the him scrutinised constantly by the camera lens, initially in wide-shots, but eventually, as the film progresses and the subjects become more difficult, in searing, penetrating close-ups. As McNamara puts forward his case his face reveals multitudes; but the camera never feels intrusive and we sense a tacit agreement between Morris and McNamara that they are doing something that needs to be done.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars �I was part of a mechanism� 18 Oct 2005
"The Fog of War" is an excellent documentary directed by Errol Morris, and based on several interviews that Morris made to Robert McNamara. In my opinion, this is a documentary that everybody should see for its educational value. Despite that, please don't be scared: it is also very engaging, and consequently it is unlikely you will be able to turn it off once you have started to watch it.
Far from being a film that glorifies McNamara, this is a documentary in which the former Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations expresses his opinions sincerely, and privileges the facts even if they don't always make him look well. Moreover, "The Fog of War" includes visual and audio footage of historical value that backs up many of the things that McNamara points out, and that will be of interest to those who would like to learn more about Mr. McNamara, but also about American history.
At the time in which this documentary was filmed, Robert McNamara was 85 years old, and said that he was at a point in his life where he could look back and draw some conclusions regarding what he did in the past. Needless to say, the spectator will be grateful to be allowed to hear his opinions about his life, and the events that he participated in. McNamara lived during the Cold ("Cold War... Hell, it was a hot war"), and went through the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam, among other things. He was a professor, worked in the military, as president of Ford and as Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. McNamara didn't led a boring life, and he tried to take advantage of his experiences ("My mission in life is to understand") in order not to make the same mistake too many times.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging but unsatisfying...? 24 Sep 2004
Errol Morris's biopic of Robert S. McNamara focuses on his time as US Secretary of Defence during the Vietnam conflict, having intially been hand-picked by JFK for the post pre-war despite having no prior experience of politics.
McNamara's earlier life of academic and commercial achievement is also touched upon (including the surprising fact that McNamara invented car seatbelts...), as is his later role as President of the World Bank - a tenure which lasted 13 years.
However, the crux of the documentary concerns McNamara's handling of the Vietnam War, and attempts to elicit understanding of the motivations of both J.F.K. and subsequently L.B.J. regarding the USA's miltary involvement.
Although McNamara is an extremely articulate and genial interviewee, his repeated point-blank refusal to answer Errol Morris's more incisive questions regarding the politics behind the conflict begin to jar. The purpose of the film appears purely to be a method of catharsis for McNamara, as he is clearly a an altruistic man upon whose shoulders rests much guilt concerning the abhorrent loss of life in Vietnam. He freely admits many mistakes were made, both by himself and in particular L.B.J. and his Chiefs of Staff. However, it's unfortunate that McNamara repeatedly shies away from any overtly controversial criticism of the ex-president - despite the fact LBJ apparently sacked McNamara solely for his anti-war stance.
Nevertheless, his account of the political machinations of both administrations under which he served are frequently fascinating, particularly his chilling account of the Cuban missile crisis and how close the world came to all-out nuclear war. Unfortunately, it's also rather unsatisfying in revealing any new insights into the unwinnable war in Vietnam which still exists as an open wound in America's history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into unintended consequences.
Robert McNamara gives a candid account of his experiences while in
the US administration. He reveals the errors and miscalculations that
are often impossible to foresee... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. A. Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
I bought this DVD to try understand the issues of the Vietnam War and the Cuban missile crisis as I was in my late teens at the time and can remember the tension at the time of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rosalie Friend
5.0 out of 5 stars Mack the Knife Bottled It
How disappointing that this highly intelligent successful man who was in office during a turbulent period in history completely fails even in retrospect to acknowledge his part in... Read more
Published 11 months ago by tinytim
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying Must See
Someone who clearly knows exactly what he is talking about makes several observations about the innermost workings of the the military and war. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Peter Stephenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound
Mr Mcnamara was too clever by half but learned some profound lessons in his 80+ years. This is essential viewing along with Hearts and Minds.
Published on 23 Feb 2012 by Robert A. H. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Finest Documentary I have seen..
This is Robert MacNamara one of the brightest men in politics surveying his life and times. It is clear that he has reached an age where it has become important to him to attempt... Read more
Published on 1 Feb 2012 by A. Murphy
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
This film is OK.

It is great to catch a (small) glimpse of what machinations were responsible for US military actions such as Vietnam. Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2011 by CJ, London
4.0 out of 5 stars Clarity, finally
The essence of tragedy is not that evil is done, or befalls by wickedness alone; it comes about by the destruction of what is good and right through mishap and hubris. Robert S. Read more
Published on 18 July 2011 by B. Larking
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-structured and well-balanced political documentary
This well-structured documentary on the former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara paints a favourable picture of a controversial politician without over-extolling the man or... Read more
Published on 31 May 2011 by Mc De Jong
5.0 out of 5 stars He walked the walk and here he talks the talk
This outstanding documentary features Bob McNamara as he recounts the story of his remarkable life.

At 85 years-of-age he reflects on his triumphs and tragedies which... Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2011 by J. P. Ryder
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