As President Obama continues mulling over a possible military strike against Syria, this seems like a rather opportune week to take a look at Errol Morris's upcoming portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, The Unknown Known. Fittingly, Vice has shared a teaser from the film.
In addition to early triumphs Gates of Heaven (1978) and The Thin Blue Line (1988), the outstanding documentarian is best known for The Fog of War, his 2003 portrait of Robert McNamara, who was key in escalating the Vietnam War. It seems appropriate, then, that Morris would cast his gaze towards Iraq and one of its major architects.
The Unknown Known takes its title from one of Rumsfeld's thousands of cryptic memos—or "snowflakes"—which, as Slate points out, blurred the lines between bureaucratic newspeak and abstract poetry and eventually guided the U.S. into the Iraq War. The clip in question finds Rumsfeld reflecting on these memos and insisting that he's more "cool and measured" than obsessive. In fact, says The Hollywood Reporter, the film finds the disgraced Secretary of Defense to be "smart, charming, and mostly likable—save for a few creepy instances when he holds a smile for a little too long." Go figure.
Morris has again employed his unique Interrotron device and, if we're lucky, his impressive ability to probe without judging and seek answers without subscribing to a singleminded narrative. The film is currently premiering on the festival circuit and is expected in theaters later this year. Here's the clip:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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