Roads to Perdition

Doomsday Visions and Ugly Americans at the Cannes Film Festival

Morris's subject does not come across as a grandstanding prevaricator like Henry Kissinger. But one may well wonder how a man as evidently brilliant and thoughtful as McNamara can claim to have been ignorant of certain historical dynamics (the antipathy between Vietnam and China, for example) that would have been readily available to any moderately aware high school student in 1966. On the other hand, one may also be amazed to hear the octogenarian powerhouse suddenly launch into a criticism of U.S. unilateralism. Curiously, that aside seemed to resonate more positively with American than foreign critics.

A skeptical review in Le Monde accused Morris of demonstrating too much sympathy for the devil. But more than providing the satanic McNamara with a human face, The Fog of War offers additional evidence that the road to hell—or, at least, the way to Dogville—is paved with good intentions. Who was ever better or brighter than Robert McNamara? Unfortunately, as the Vietnam debacle so abundantly demonstrated, intelligence hardly guarantees against its own failures—a maxim that might even apply to the Cannes Film Festival itself.

As steeped in suffering as Sister Carrie: Nicole Kidman in Von Trier's Dogville
photo: Rolf Konow
As steeped in suffering as Sister Carrie: Nicole Kidman in Von Trier's Dogville

Related Articles:

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"Sim City: Indulging in Cannes's Desserts of the Reel" by J. Hoberman

"Van Sant Wins Top Prize at Cannes" by J. Hoberman

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