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Fog of War

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Fog of War

from Film Forum, 05/29/03

He was also quite impressed by the documentaries, including Errol Morris's Fog of War, a film on the life of Robert McNamara. "McNamara himself provides some startling admissions and thoughtful reflections. The score by Philip Glass is brilliant, but even better is Morris's gripping editing and sense of pace. What could've been a dry history lesson becomes a powerful exploration of war and the men who wage it."

This week, Peter T. Chattaway is beginning coverage of The Vancouver International Film Festival at Canadian Christianity.

from Film Forum, 01/22/04

Master documentarian Errol Morris, who made the amusing and challenging film Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, is back with his latest—and some are saying greatest—work of nonfiction.

Fog of War is an up-close interview with Robert McNamara about World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War. The revealing, intimate conversation has been winning raves from mainstream press critics. But among religious press critics, it is drawing different responses.

Tom Snyder (Movieguide) argues that this interview would have been better if it had presented the Gospel. "Fog of War presents a disappointing, inconclusive, and at times misleading interview. It often stops short of making real revelations about McNamara's experiences. It fails to consider the fact that a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ can indeed change human nature."

Other critics believe that there is much that can be gained from listening to an interview like this, even if the subject doesn't spell out the Gospel.

Darrel Manson (review pending at Hollywood Jesus) says the film is "an important and useful view into one of the most contentious times in U.S. history and into many issues involved with war and peace that often need to be considered."

J. Robert Parks (Paste Magazine) calls the film "amazing … an incredibly relevant portrait of a man who helped shape the 20th century. [The film] raises enough issues, provokes enough questions, and challenges enough assumptions to make it essential viewing."

Parks explains, "Most viewers will come to the movie interested to hear McNamara expound on the Vietnam War, but it's his reflections on WWII that are the most illuminating. In one of the most riveting interviews seen on film, McNamara recounts how the firebombing of Tokyo was designed—with ruthless efficiency. He then describes the subsequent bombing of 66 other Japanese cities, ending with the admission that, if the U.S. had lost the war, he would almost certainly have been tried as a war criminal. It's an absolutely startling claim, especially given that he's referring not to the Vietnam War, but to the 'Good War.'"