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Arts and Entertainment

Donald Rumsfeld Shows No Remorse In 'The Unknown Known'

Donald Rumsfeld in 'The Unknown Known' (Photo courtesy of RADiUS-TWC)
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Errol Morris and his Interrotron are back with another examination of a controversial former Secretary of Defense, this time pointing his camera head on at Donald Rumsfeld in The Unknown Known and examining his political career and the multiple conflicts Rumsfeld is inexorably intertwined with. Unlike Robert McNamara in The Fog Of War, Rumsfeld never once seems remorseful, and some might perceive his grappling with Morris over the definitions of words as defensive. But never once does Rumsfeld give off the sense of a man who felt his actions were unjustified.

Able to escape the White House before the Watergate Scandal in what seems too good to be a coincidence of timing, Rumsfeld wasn't given the benefit of leaving his last public job on his own terms and appears to be trying to right his own wrongs. What's unfortunate about The Unknown Known is how much Morris loses control over the narrative of the film and allows Rumsfeld to craft his own view of his history to present. Rumsfeld is smart enough of a politician to know that power comes in the control of rhetoric, not from persona. And while defenders of the film have countered that Morris wouldn't have been able to extract anything insightful from Rumsfeld in the first place (it is Donald Rumsfeld after all), The Unknown Known feels frustrating as a viewing experience, leading us to wonder why Rumsfeld was even given such a platform in the first place.

"The Unknown Known" opens today at Laemmle's Monica 4 (Santa Monica), Playhouse 7 (Pasadena) and the Sundance Sunset West Cinemas (West Hollywood).

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