The Unknown Known 2014 PG-13 CC

Amazon Instant Video

(114) IMDb 6.9/10
Available in HD

Watch Now While It's in Theaters. Academy Award winner Errol Morris, using declassified memos, guides the notorious Don Rumsfeld through a historical and provocative discussion examining his career, philosophy and complex legacy.

Donald Rumsfeld
1 hour 43 minutes

Available in HD on supported devices.

The Unknown Known

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Errol Morris
Starring Donald Rumsfeld
Studio Radius
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

I found that many of the things Rumsfeld presented here seemed intelligent and well thought out.
Mark Turner
Despite the fact that through Rumsfeld's advocacy and call for war the nation of Iraq was destroyed, its culture looted, its cities laid to waste.
It was, however, interesting to hear Rumsfeld talk and give his account of certain things that got him to the position of Sec. of Defense.
Manuel Leon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Richard G. Eddy on April 7, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Errol Morris deserves 5 stars for this profile of a person who, when faced with his clear contradictions as US Secretary of Defense, can only offer a sardonic, toothy grin, time after time. Rumsfeld was the sub-genius at the foundation of US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His hubris, aching self-importance, and fascination with his own circular thinking led to the deaths of thousands of American military personnel and Iraqi and Afghani citizens. If he is unrepentant, it seems to me, it is only because he lacks the honesty to face the facts and consequences of his behaviors. His interactions with the filmmaker are often reminiscent of an adolescent arguing that it wasn't really he who dented the fender of the family automobile. Instead of being ingratiating, his rictus is more suggestive of the grimace of a ghoul, riding as far as he could on the dead and wounded. His tenure as Defense Secretary should not be forgotten, for his is a sharp example of how not to do things and how not to comport oneself.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 5, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
"The Unknown Known" (2013 release; 103 min.) is the latest documentary from Errol "The Fog of War" Morris, this time interviewing former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The title of the documentary reflects on one of the thousands of memos (so-called "snowflakes") that Rumsfeld issued during his tenure: "What You Know", the "unkown known" being "things you think you know but it turns out you didn't know". Translated: the epic failure of Iraq post-invasion, when it became clear that the Pentagon didn't have a game plan on how to deal with things after Sadam Hussein was overthrown. The documentary goes back or Rumsfeld's early days, back to the 60s when he was elected to Congress before taking various administration positions with Presidents Ford and Reagan, thankfully including some great archive shots and photos. But the focus of this documentary is clearly the 2003-2004 era of the Iraq invasion.

Couple of comments: Rumsfeld always has been someone who loves the camera and the spotlight, and easily providing memorable quotes or answers, and this documentary is more proof of that. Morris: "How did you propose to your wife?" Rumsfeld: "Imperfectly", ha! Morris: "Isn't it amazing how they were able to pull off 9-11?" Rumsfeld: "Everything seems amazing in retrospect". When the photo scandal in the Abu Dabi prison broke, Rumsfeld offered to resign, but President Bush refused, to Rumsfeld's regret. Yet despite all that, when you see him contradicting himself about whether or not Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, you just shake your head in disgust. The documentary ends with Morris asking Rumsfeld: "Why are you talking to me?". What does Rumsfeld respond? Just watch! As an aside, veteran movie composer Danny Elfman provides a subtle but very nice soundtrack to the movie.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wilson on April 24, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Apparently, I'm one of the few people to have watched (and reviewed) this film from a position of neutrality. I held no personal opinion for Donald Rumsfeld prior to this piece. I was unaware of the extent of his political career and, if anything, now knowing a Cliff's Notes-esque version of it makes some of the decisions he made a little more clear. It must have been odd for this obviously methodical person to be placed in positions (sought after or not) that required not so methodical decision making. Being in a position myself requiring decisions to be made that have an immediate effect on a persons life without the benefit of the full scope of information I can only assume that to make similar decisions that effect millions at a stroke can be little else but maddening.

Just as I have over-sight from those that have the luxury of the decisions aftermath as a guide, I can sympathize with his position.

If the press and their audience have one quality that magnifies their arrogance / ignorance it is their almost sociopathic inability to recognize that by attempting to cast pre-judgement on an event they have doomed themselves to fabrication. Most of the questions I've ever heard asked at press conferences are phrased to lead a person to answer in a way that the interviewer wants unless the respondent is intelligent enough to rephrase the question in their answer. "Have you stopped beating your spouse"? may be an exaggerated example but it is a valid one.

While this documentary made attempts to guide the viewer to a designed conclusion it is also transparent enough to be ignored. This, in the end, made it a reasonably neutral production.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Turner on July 16, 2014
Format: DVD
I had no idea what to expect with this movie, the latest from director Errol Morris. Well regarded as one of the best documentary film makers ever, Morris began with films like GATES OF HEAVEN, VERNON FLORIDA and THE THIN BLUE LINE. Of the movies he's done in the past I was fortunate enough to see, Morris has always seemed to offer an unbiased presentation of the subject matter he chooses. With THE UNKNOWN KNOWN I think he continues that practice, even though in the extras he seems to have had an opinion of the subject on hand here.

That subject is ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The movie consists mainly of interviews with Rumsfeld as he discusses his life and times in the world of politics. While it could have focused solely on his time serving under George W. Bush, the film goes far back to his early years in D.C. instead. We see Rumsfeld working for various other politicians, all of which would groom him for the role of Secretary of Defense in his later years.

The title of the film comes from a comment made during a press briefing while the war in Iraq was going on. Rumsfeld said at that time "There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know." While it might be confusing to some if you actually read what he said it makes sense. It was a time when we had conflicting information at best, out and out lies at worst and a world where terrorist considered flying planes into targets on American soil as something worth doing.
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