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Unknown White Male: A True Story (2004)

Doug Bruce , Rupert Murray , Rupert Murray  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Doug Bruce, Rupert Murray
  • Directors: Rupert Murray
  • Producers: Beadie Finzi, Jess Search, Marie Therese Guirgis, Robyn Hutt, Ryan Werner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Wellspring Media
  • DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,942 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Unknown White Male: A True Story" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Visualizing Memory: Making of…" featurette
  • "Where He Is Now" featurette
  • Interviews with friends
  • Extended interviews with experts
  • Q&A with the director and producer
  • Original Sand Dune sequence

Editorial Reviews

Reminiscent of films fascinated with stories of memory loss, UNKNOWN WHITE MALE is the true story of how Doug Bruce, a successful former stockbroker, loses his memory then struggles to learn who he was and who he will become. Rupert Murray narrates and di

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By dooby
The cover-art, blurbs and reviews would make many people think this was a thriller. It is nothing of the sort. It is instead a very fine documentary about a person suffering from Psychogenic Amnesia (Dissociative Amnesia). It is an intriguing medical mystery and a take-off point for discussions on memory, identity and self. Doug Bruce awakes to find himself on the New York subway, not knowing what he is doing, where he is, or more importantly, who he is. He has absolutely no recall of anything up to that point. Bruce appears as a handsome, well-dressed, clean-cut man, who speaks with an English accent. He has no visible injuries and does not appear intoxicated or irrational. He goes to the police. They take him to the hospital, where blood-tests, toxicology-screens, CT and MRI scans reveal no organic reason for his memory loss. They place him in the psychiatric ward pending evaluation. A telephone number in his pocket enables them to contact someone who knows him and allows him to slowly piece together his life.

I find this fascinating from a purely clinical standpoint. Although amnesia is very common, Psychogenic Amnesia is not and Generalised Amnesia is very rare. This is where someone claims he cannot remember any past events in his life while the doctor is not able to pinpoint anything physically wrong with him. In Bruce's case he claims to be unable to recall anything in his life up to that point in the subway. He is however able to form new memories. His memory impairment although extensive, is also selective. Episodic memory (memory of past events) is entirely lost. However, some components of semantic memory (general knowledge) and procedural memory (skills) are still present.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost June 20, 2006
One day 3 years ago, Doug Bruce finds himself (whoever "himself" is at this point in the story) at the end of a subway ride to Coney Island without any memory of who he is, where he lives and how or when he got on the subway. A friend of Doug's talked to him the night before at 8pm and reports that Doug said he was staying in that night. But something happened to Doug between 8 pm and the end of that fateful subway ride the next day.
In Doug's backpack there is a book about translating Spanish and between the pages of this book a phone number of someone named Eva. And so begins Doug Bruce's journey to reclaim his life.
Doctors diagnose Doug as having retrograde amnesia. In other words, he could describe an ocean for you but could not describe how it feels to swim in one.
The most touching scenes in the film are those dealing with Doug's family: can you imagine how it feels to look into your son's/brother's/nephew's eyes and realize that he doesn't recognize you? Has no idea who you are? Can't remember the Love that exists between the two of you? In fact, Doug has no idea what love is.
"Unknown White Male" is fascinating, intelligent but ultimately sad. It disturbs. It forces us to think about things we'd rather not and as such "Unknown White Male" extends way, way beyond our comfort zone: something that very few movies have the wherewithal to attempt much less accomplish.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind blown August 27, 2006
This fellow lost his mind and it really makes you think. He asks professionals of the brain what it is that makes you be you. Is it the sum of your experiences, of which he recalls nothing; or is it your feelings and thought processes, which in his case seem largely untouched? The new Doug is actually more appealing than the original version. Why is that?

If you just like action adventure, forget it. If you want to see a good film at home with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) and then have some really interesting discussions wih your friends, don't miss this opportunity; a steal at the price. Buy it, share it, and discuss it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who are we as people? September 9, 2006
This is an interesting and thought-provoking film. The documentary follows the experiences of one man with complete amnesia, telling the story both of his total loss of memory and his work to rebuild his life. Experts gives us an overview of the science behind memory, but the film never gets too bogged down in the science. It really provides a very compassionate look at the question of whether we, as people, are just the sum of our memories. What happens when those memories are lost? How do we go about our daily lives? How do we interact with the family and friends who remember a person who's no longer there? All of these issues come up often watching elderly patients with Alzheimer's or dementia, but this film shows a different story as it happens to a very young man. It draws you in and you become very emotionally attached to Doug, the Unknown White Male.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and thought-provoking. September 17, 2006
A man finds himself on a train with no knowledge of who he is, or even how he got on the train. His head hurts, but apparently he is not severely injured. He carries no wallet, so presumably he was mugged, although the movie does not address that. Fortunately for him, he has the phone number of a friend's mother with him, and the mother is compassionate enough to call her daughter and ask her to call him, to see if she knows him. Thus begins a very strange journey, as Doug is told who he is and must piece back together some kind of life.

It's very interesting to wonder who we would be if we had no past. Just plunk us down in the life of a man who was wealthy enough to retire at 30, and let us blossom. Doug returns to his study of photography, and attempts to normalize his life.

There are a lot of things to recommend this movie, although it is not spectacular -- it's a careful documentary made by the man's friend. It's thought-provoking in the extreme -- among those thoughts: what would have happened if he had not been wealthy?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD
I am happy with this purchase. It came right away and I have enjoyed watching it. I have shared it with friends and family members.
Published 21 months ago by peopleperson
4.0 out of 5 stars Is He Faking It?
These days you can't be too skeptical about the lengths a person might go to for attention. One doctor implies that certain amnesia patients (without physical damage) may just not... Read more
Published on September 17, 2012 by mr. contrarian
4.0 out of 5 stars Amnesia Exposed
A nice doco about amnesia sufferer and his way from Coney Island, NY, back to home country and family in England, geographically and mentally. Read more
Published on May 31, 2010 by Michael Kerjman
3.0 out of 5 stars watchable, probably fake (imho)
This is an interesting doc. I think the controversy over whether or not it's "real" (=whether or not Doug really has amnesia) makes it a lot more interesting. Read more
Published on June 20, 2008 by Bookbug
1.0 out of 5 stars Not As Good As Blair Witch
Did this guy actually suffer amnesia? ...Maybe, I don't know, only he and Rupert and anyone behind this documentary knows. Read more
Published on May 8, 2008 by Ramon Olivo
4.0 out of 5 stars Starting over...
I've read other reviews, and most think it's a hoax. So what? Wouldn't we all like to start over? The fact that he went all over the world to reconnect, with friends and family,... Read more
Published on May 3, 2008 by R. Gawlitta
1.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Wasn't There?
Are we still caught up in the faux-profound of this ridiculous charade? A documentary maker that refuses to get his subject to take the REAL test that objectively, once and for... Read more
Published on February 4, 2008 by Aaron
3.0 out of 5 stars True or not...(3 1/2 stars)
I found it to be an intriguing story.

Imagine that you wake up one day, not only have you lost your memory of your past, but you also need to be introduced to everything... Read more
Published on July 11, 2007 by Diane Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting.
I can't say for sure whether I believe this documentary to be true or not, and frankly I don't care. Read more
Published on June 7, 2007 by Michael Slauson
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst thing I've watched in years
In addition to being a liar (I don't believe for a minute he ever suffered amnesia), this guy is a complete idiot. Read more
Published on March 2, 2007 by Tym
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