Monday, July 06, 2009

MOVIE: Fog Of War (Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara)

Robert S McNamara died in his sleep this morning. He was 92 years old. Two days ago, I watched Fog Of War (Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara). In it, Mister McNamara discusses his experiences and lessons learned during his tenure as Secretary of Defense under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He talks about his work as a bombing statistician during World War II, his brief tenure as president of Ford Motor Company, and the Kennedy administration's triumph during the Cuban Missle Crisis. However, the film focuses primarily on his failures in Vietnam. The theme of the film are his "eleven lessons" learned during this time. Some of these include improving military efficiency, understanding your enemy, and the frustrations of trying to deal with (and unsuccessfully trying to change) human nature.

The documentary was genuinely touching and brilliant. It won a half dozen awards after it aired in 2003. It not only educated me on certain realities of Cold War & Vietnam, but it also provided keen insight into one of the most influencial minds of the time.

Great writing. Phenominal direction. Superbly in-depth. And not afraid to ask tough questions, though not all the answers were equally tough. The pacing could have been a bit sharper. And I would have enjoyed seeing some more of the personal-side of the man rather than the political side of Mister McNamara. But overall, it was surprisingly enjoyable and enlightening.

I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to get first hand details on events from McNamara's era. It isn't going to be a date flick. And I doubt the kids would sit through more than 10 minutes of it. But history buffs would enjoy it. And in light of Mister McNamara's recent passing, it is a worthwhile rental.
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