The recipient of 2004’s Best Documentary Oscar, “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara,” directed by Errol Morris (“The Thin Blue Line”), creates a captivating and monumental look at the life of Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara and his years immersed in war.
Robert S. McNamara – President of the Ford Motor Company, the World Bank and the prominent Secretary of Defense – was often considered the “architect” of one of the most bloody and controversial wars in United States’ history. As Secretary of Defense for seven years under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, McNamara endured the tense relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union – during which time he said that the U.S. came extremely close to declaring nuclear war on three separate occasions – through the exceptionally controversial Vietnam War.
In Morris’ enlightening and eye-opening documentary, which TIME Magazine calls “spellbinding cinema,” he takes us into the mind of one of the most protested and misunderstood men of our time. This film gives us an intimate portrait of a single man and his personal views on the reality of war, leaving us with 11 of his life lessons that should not be forgotten, the most prominent being lessons three, nine and 11. Lesson number three: There’s something beyond one’s self. Lesson number nine: In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil. Lesson number 11: You can’t change human nature.
McNamara’s interview leaves us with a deeper understanding of what goes on in wartime decision making and, more importantly, that we have an obligation as a nation to learn from our mistakes and live by them. At 89 years old, McNamara says he can now look back on his life and “try to learn, try to understand what has happened, develop the lessons and pass them on.” “The Fog of War” will be shown on Monday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Campbell Hall. Screening tickets are $6 for the general public and $5 for UCSB students.