Directed by: Errol Morris
Premise: A documentary about the life and times of Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and one of the key figures in the Vietnam War.
What Works: At 80, McNamara is still very sharp and Morris uses his turn-the-camera-on-and-let-life- play-out style for the interview. Unlike most subjects of Morris’ documentaries, McNamara doesn’t verbally hang himself in front of the camera and he is surprisingly honest about both his successes and his mistakes and when that is combined with archival footage, the result is a fascinating dissection of American foreign policy.
What Doesn’t: There are no interviews with anyone else, which might have given a broader point of view to the picture
DVD extras: 24 Additional scenes, a featurette on McNamara’s life in politics, and television spots.
Bottom Line: The Fog of War is worth your time and money. McNamara’s lessons about foreign relations are as relevant to us today as they were in his time and the film makes attempts to link the past with the present. Note the difference in style between this and Fahrenheit 9/11. The Fog of War is much more stylized and has a cleaner and more polished look than Moore’s get-the-shot-any-which-way-you-can cinematography. That’s not to say one is better than the other; each serves its purpose. The films represent two key styles in contemporary documentary filmmaking.
Episode: #8 (July 4, 2004)