Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fog of War plus 5 things from Errol Morris worth a second look

The Fog of War was release in 2003, immediately the work was recognized for its cleverness. The arrangement of the documentary is quite interesting. Morris interviewed McNamara, Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations for many hours, then arranged the film into 11 lessons which also happens to be the structure of McNamara's book: In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam.

The 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 both often 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

Most of us heard the name or learn something or the other of Robert McNamara in a high school history class but to watch and listen to him feels exclusive, he is pure cunning, even though he is older and a little weaker. Much of the film will seem less informative to an older generation, but to many like myself who knew very little about the man the film would certainly be enlightening. The lessons can certainly be applied to our current situation with the war in Iraq. The catastrophe and victory can be explained by an occasional fumbling man who drives a Ford, or this once important old fumbling man can reveal to us who is responsible.

Many criticism can be placed on McNamara, however, if you have the time you should watch the film, it is an excellent example of the real cunning at work, both Morris and McNamara. More on Morris can be seen here, or on his blog for the NYTimes.

Five things from Errol Morris worth your second look:
1. Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?
2. Film is lies at twenty - four frames a second
3. Errol Morris on The Treatment with Elvis Mitchel.
4. Commercial for PBS: Photobooth
5. Gates of Heaven

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