Originally set to be an hour-long examination for PBS program First Person, Errol Morris ended up running with the subject matter, offering firsthand accounts of the events that led to and continued the Vietnam War from no less than Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense under both Kennedy and Johnson.
What’s more remarkable than the filmmaking itself is the level of access that Morris is able to achieve, as well as the frankness with which McNamara speaks about the rationale behind the decisions that were made. So many years removed, McNamara speaks with an honesty that few would dare at any point in their life.
Peter Davis lets his political leanings shine through on this brutal critique of the Vietnam War. Despite the slant he offers on the subject matter, the film still managed to garner a 1975 Oscar for Best Documentary.
Davis offers that the meteoric escalation of the war in Southeast Asia was the result not of calculated decision-making, but ego and petty squabbles that would ultimately end in the death of thousands and a nation divided. The doc offers a combination of firsthand interviews as well as rare field footage in putting together a harrowing look at a war that the filmmaker clearly did not feel was worth the damage it caused.