PG-13, 103 min.
Director/Writer: Errol Morris
Featuring: Donald Rumsfeld
Voice: Errol Morris
In his first feature, “Gates of Heaven”, documentarian Errol Morris interviews an old woman who just lets loose on his camera with a five minute monologue that goes from one end of the spectrum to the other in a way that sees her contradicting her own point by the time she reaches the end. “The Unknown Known” is a feature-length version of that same monologue, this time with former two-time U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as the interviewee.
The film follows the same model as Morris’s feature-length interview of another former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, in his Oscar-winning “The Fog of War”. Now, McNamara doesn’t come out of that documentary smelling only of roses, but he does exude confidence and a sure sense of himself and his actions as a civil servant of this country. Here, Rumsfeld comes across as more of a shyster who is unaware that being a shyster isn’t necessarily acting in the best interest of the American people. I think he truly believes that the two go hand in hand, but does he understand that one purpose of this documentary is to try and determine if that is true?