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The Unknown Known (2013)

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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,765 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 23 user | 87 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

Former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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Former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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What you didn't know you didn't know. See more »

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Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and brief nudity | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

16 January 2014 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$64,315 (USA) (4 April 2014)

Gross:

$276,381 (USA) (27 June 2014)
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Ivan & Boris See more »

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Featured in At the Movies: Venice Film Festival 2013 (2013) See more »

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White Christmas
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by Tennessee Ernie Ford
Courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Interesting due to the focus and subject, but not much beyond this and generally disappointingly unrevealing
10 May 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Having very much enjoyed the similarly framed Fog Of War, I was of course very curious to see Donald Rumsfeld undergo the same sort of film since in his case his actions have been very much within my lifetime but of course most relevantly in the post-9/11 world. I recall that his frequent ducking and diving with the press during Afghanistan and Iraq saw him to be very nimble on his feet but also prone to flat out denial of things that certainly appeared to be true unless you took an absolute stand on the very specific point of definition. The film starts with Rumsfeld's love of the memo, of which thousands exist, and we jump back through his political career, with the first hour spent pre-Bus administration before the second half circles back very much to the 00's and his role as Defense Secretary.

In terms of the ground it covers, the film is inherently interesting and it does at least provide a concise walk through things, with the odd aspect that I was not fully aware. It achieves this not because the film is really interesting, but just because it covers the events and these in themselves are interesting. It helps to understand the players (as many will) but not too much, since the film really will do little for those that know the subject inside out. In terms of the type of reflection and investigation of Fog of War, forget it, none is here and Rumsfeld has no intention of straying from the line he has walked thus far. This makes the film ultimately disappointing – not because I wanted the film to "get him" or reveal him, but just because there is really nothing here to add to the hours of cspan and controlled statements over the past decade.

If the film could be said to reveal anything, it is that it reveals the steadfastness and the unwillingness to publicly reflect of Rumsfeld – he grins his way through the film, providing unconvincing defenses of anything put to him and quick to argue even on things about the specific meaning of his "known unknowns" speech. It is a great performance in that regard and the film only reveals how deep entrenched it is. Is this a surprise though? Is it enough to really consider enough to justify the film to find that a man who is a career politician is very good at politics? I think not and ultimately, although the focus of the film inherently provides material of interest, it does little to add to it or to get anywhere that could be said to revealing, insightful or to have made this specific film worthwhile.


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