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Unknown White Male: A True Story

3.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(Sep 05, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Sometime between 8pm on July 1st and 7am on July 3rd, 2003, Doug Bruce lost himself. That morning, riding alone on a New York subway headed towards Coney Island, he could not remember his name, where he worked, who his friends were, how much money he had in his bank account. He was without his identity. Unknown White Male is the true story of how Bruce, a successful former stockbroker, struggles to learn who he was and who he will become. The documentary, produced, directed and edited by Bruce's longtime friend, Rupert Murray, chronicles this profound journey. (Wellspring)

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

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
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • 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 (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GBEWIY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,630 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Unknown White Male: A True Story" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD
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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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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