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Documentaries > The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

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message 1: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a brilliant, thought-provoking film, a must-see for everyone who loves a good documentary, is interested in political history, or simply wants to understand the mechanics of war and peace. I really love this film, and I thought it'd be a good time to post about it now that the former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara has passed away.

The film uses interviews with Robert S. McNamara, archived footage and recorded coversations to tell the story of McNamara's life and his complex career, with the main focus on the years between 1961 and 1968.

These are his eleven lessons:

1. Empathize with your enemy

2. Rationality will not save us

3. There's something beyond one's self

4. Maximize efficiency

5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war

6. Get the data

7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong

8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning

9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil

10. Never say never

11. You can't change human nature

This is truly one of the best films, and definitely the most excellent documentares, that I've ever seen. Do check it out.

message 2: by Phillip (last edited Jul 07, 2009 12:54AM) (new)

Phillip | 10782 comments It's a great film, and there's just so much information in it. The astonishing moment in the film is when McNamara meets with the leaders of North Vietnam and Cambodia decades after the war had wrapped and he realized our conception of why they were fighting was different than their reason for fighting.

message 3: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Yes, that's a true epiphany. McNamara appears to have been such a complex, intelligent, mysterious man. The documentary is so well made... and Errol Morris, the director, is one of the best.

message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez I've had the good fortune to meet Errol Morris recently, and I just have to say that, while I've always appreciated his work, I've become even more of a fan since I've had a chance to get to know him a bit. I mention it only because it seems so rare that a public figure whose work you admire turns out to be a *person* you admire. A pleasant turn of events.

message 5: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Wow, Jonathan... That would be awesome, meeting him. He does seem like a really intelligent man.

message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez Cissy wrote: "Wow, Jonathan... That would be awesome, meeting him. He does seem like a really intelligent man. "

He really is. But even more impressive, he's truly committed to what he does. I was stunned to learn that he subsidizes his documentary "habit" with commercial work; evidently, his docs, popular though they are, don't produce much in the way of revenue. So it really is a labor of love.

message 7: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments That's brilliant. I've only ever seen The Thin Blue Line (years ago) and The Fog of War. I need to get my paws on more of his work asap.

It's a real pity that great documentaries like that aren't commercial successes as both of these films are exceptional and amazing in so many ways.

message 8: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez I definitely recommend "Standard Operating Procedure" (about Abu Ghraib) and, on a lighter note, "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control."

message 9: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Thanks for the recommendations, Jonathan! I also noticed that Morris has a Twitter account, and a great site:

message 10: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10782 comments i like the films of errol morris, but i find some of his "dramatizations" a bit tiresome. the best parts of standard operating procedures are the bits where the participants discuss what happened, in their own words. the photos are chilling, but those re-enactments with dog fangs glaring, etc. veer into territory that seems the opposite of his best work, which is to get his subjects (like mc namara) to open up and spill the beans.

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