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6 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Fog of War, The
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by Preston Jones

"Eerily timely."
4 stars

The parallels are undeniable and deeply ironic – Errol Morris’ Academy Award-winning documentary, or as the director calls it, "a 20th century fable,” The Fog of War sheds light on mistakes made before and mistakes that could potentially be made again.

Taking the film in the context of Morris’ Oscar acceptance speech (more to the point, this specific chunk: “40 years ago this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died. I fear we're going down a rabbit hole once again. And if people can stop and think and reflect on some of the ideas and issues in this movie, perhaps I've done some damn good here.”) lends even more terrifying urgency to the film that it has already.
The Fog of War sprang from Morris’ conversations with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara initially slated for a PBS special, which blossomed into a feature-length documentary, as Morris spent more time with McNamara.
Split up into 11 “lessons” such as “In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil” or “there is something beyond yourself,” Morris guides McNamara through the major political upheavals of the Sixties and Seventies, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the escalation of the Vietnam conflict. It’s riveting to hear a bureaucrat who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations stop just short of admitting wrongdoing – it’s more in what MacNamara doesn’t say that damns him.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Morris’ documentary is that save for a few digital flourishes, The Fog of War is unfiltered and low-key; letting McNamara expound upon his philosophies and ideals, some of which may sound disturbingly familiar if you’ve ever watched a Donald Rumsfeld press conference.
Morris isn’t new to the world of documentaries and if you’re a film buff, you’ve likely run into his works The Thin Blue Line , Mr. Death , or Fast, Cheap and Out of Control . A skillful filmmaker who rarely makes his presence felt within the narrative, Morris’ recent Oscar win is more likely a fluke (or a career achievement award) than any real recognition on the part of the Academy. The minimalist Philip Glass score is appropriately placed throughout the film and adds to the tense, uncertain atmosphere.

Make no mistake, however – The Fog of War is not to be missed. A gripping, paralytic examination of just how far a country will go when convinced it is right, The Fog of War penetrates the minds of the men behind the closed doors and offers up the most horrifying vision you’re likely to see in a theater this year. Don’t miss it.

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originally posted: 06/28/04 10:36:26
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
This film is listed in our political documentary series. For more in the Political Documentary series, click here.

User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
9/23/07 pin K. Thomas has obviously never seen an Errol Morris film before - too bad. 5 stars
1/11/05 Phil M. Aficionado RSMcN shoulda been JFK's veep; quality film about a quality man, gray areas and all. See it 5 stars
9/23/04 denny will rumsfeld do the same some day? probably no brave enough 4 stars
9/13/04 wovengold Fascinating; my opinion of McNamarra has completely changed. 5 stars
8/30/04 Gray ALL is fair in love and war (axil apologis's suckt) 2 stars
7/28/04 JB Much philosophising, and moralising but no answers, no insights into the man. 1 stars
7/07/04 Tony leBlanc Sucks is an understatement 1 stars
7/06/04 Jim Very interesting, and applicable to modern events. Editing tricks kind of annoying. 4 stars
7/02/04 fleaj a man of many dimensions to be expored throughout this documentary 4 stars
5/18/04 Mike Excellent documentary about Mcmanara. Very interesting to anyone intrigue by the era. 5 stars
5/16/04 Jean I Liked it a lot . these old hawks ought to tell their stories as did Mr.McNamara 5 stars
4/14/04 Cameron Slick A numbing, harrowing great documentary. My sixth favorite film of 2003. 5 stars
3/26/04 Helen Bradley hard hitting great viewing bit long gun lobby should see 4 stars
3/17/04 your worst goddamn nightmare great documentary... definitely Oscar worthy... but no breakthrough revelations as Bowling 4 stars
3/08/04 Marce When it comes out on DVD, I'm mailing a copy to the White House. 5 stars
3/01/04 belle intense film with- great cinematography, soundtrack 4 stars
1/23/04 robert s. must see, like .fast food nation. is a must read 5 stars
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  19-Dec-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 11-May-2004



Directed by
  Errol Morris

Written by

  Robert McNamara

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