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Running Time:
106 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for images and thematic issues of war and destruction.

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
This exceptionally revaling documentary is a remarkable achievement. It deservedly won the Academy award among a field of excellent contenders

Additional Info:
DVD Features: 24 additional scenes; Robert S. McNamara's 10 Lessons from his life in politics; TV spots; Previews.

The Fog of War
Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line) has made a career out of exploring the lives of oddballs, loners and an occasional hero, and Robert S. McNamara is a little of all those things. Morris allows McNamara to defend himself and explain his actions within eleven chapters and lets the audience draw their own conclusions in a stylistically stunning documentary. Although McNamara has often been accused of accelerating the war in Vietnam, he seems intelligent, contrite, somewhat defensive and ultimately quite human. Often thought of as one of the villains of the twentieth century, the former Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson is considered one of the chief architects of U.S. involvement in the Vietnamese civil war, which makes him largely responsible for the needless deaths of many hundreds of thousands, perhaps over a million, civilians and soldiers. Even when he admits that war was a dreadful mistake, he does it in a way that avoids direct apologies, which has made his enemies hate him even more. Still, at eighty-six, but looking and acting years younger, he seems to be genuinely concerned with the welfare of his fellow humans. His first brush with infamy was working under the ruthless military general, Curtis LeMay, during World War II, when he helped plan the firebombing of Tokyo which incinerated over 100,000 civilians. That attack was undoubtably a war crime, although some would say that it was a necessary atrocity. The death toll was actually higher than that of the first atomic bomb which was dropped some weeks later, on Hiroshima. Still, that operation was the decision of LeMay and president Franklin Roosevelt, not McNamara. After the war, McNamara began saving lives as Vice President of the Ford Motor Company where he worked on redesigning safer cars, installing safety belts and installing steering wheels that didnít impale drivers, thereby saving untold numbers of lives. Then as Secretary of Defense under JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he claims to have been critical of the plans of his hawkish old boss, General LeMay, and may ultimately have helped save the lives of all of us by thwarting LeMay's plans to escalate the war even further. Today he advocates total disarmament and remains deeply worried about the prospect of an "accidental" nuclear war. McNamara makes his sentiments known early and often throughout this engrossing documentary; that any person in military power has made mistakes and caused people to die. The goal is not to destroy nations, learn from mistakes and pass the knowledge on. Morris even includes an old CBS Reports segment that shows the young Secretary of Defense, informing us that he may have the toughest job in existence, responsible for 1/2 of every tax dollar spent. Morris uses jumpcuts, closeups of teletype machines, punch cards, and dominoes falling over a map, to help visualize the material. Philip Glass has composed an excellent background score, and although his music seemed ill-advised in last year's drama "The Hours," here it is extremely effective. "The Fog of War" is Errol Morris' finest film, using McNamara's own words to make the controversial American seem amazingly human.

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