The Unknown Known

    • Errol Morris
    • United States
    • 2013
    • 104 min
    • Retrospective: Errol Morris
    In The Unknown Known, Oscar-winning director Errol Morris offers a mesmerizing portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, the larger-than-life figure who served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense and as the principal architect of the Iraq War. Rather than conducting a conventional interview, Morris has Rumsfeld explain his “snowflakes,” millions of memos he wrote across almost 50 years in Congress, the White House, in business and at the Pentagon. The memos provide a window into history – as Rumsfeld wants us to see it. Morris pays special attention to Rumsfeld’s linguistic gymnastics. Indeed, the title of the documentary is taken from a much-quoted Rumsfeld aphorism: “There are known knowns, there are known unknowns, there are unknown unknowns, but there are also unknown knowns: things that you think you know but that it turns out you did not.” But by focusing on the snowflakes, with their conundrums and contradictions, Morris takes us beyond this web of words and into the unfamiliar terrain of Rumsfeld’s mind, showing how the ideas, fears and certainties of one man, written out on paper, transformed America, changed the course of history and led to war.


    • 104 min
    • color
    • DCP
    • Spoken languages: English
    Errol Morris
    Errol Morris for Fourth Floor Productions Inc., Robert Fernandez for Moxie Pictures, Amanda Branson Gill for Moxie Pictures
    Executive producer
    Julian P. Hobbs for History Films, Molly Thompson for History Films, Josh Braun for Submarine Entertainment
    Robert Chappell
    Steven Hathaway

    IDFA history

    Retrospective: Errol Morris
    Dutch Premiere

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