The Unknown Known

Critics Consensus

Viewers hoping to see Donald Rumsfeld admit making mistakes in public office (or hoping Errol Morris will force him to give straight answers) may find The Unknown Known frustrating -- but no less fascinating.

82%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 106

70%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,304

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Movie Info

Donald Rumsfeld discusses his political career, from his days as a congressman to planning the invasion of Iraq.

Cast & Crew

Robert Fernandez
Producer
Molly Thompson
Executive Producer
Josh Braun
Executive Producer
Dirk Hoogstra
Executive Producer
Julian Hobbs
Executive Producer
Jason Janego
Executive Producer
Jeff Skoll
Executive Producer
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News & Interviews for The Unknown Known

Critic Reviews for The Unknown Known

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (50) | Fresh (87) | Rotten (19)

  • He poses simple questions and lets them talk, and talk, and talk. In doing so, he gives them enough rope to hang themselves.

    June 18, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Morris's commentary comes in the form of stunning images ... and a truly beautiful score ... The Unknown Known is revealing, but what it reveals is emptiness.

    April 21, 2014 | Full Review…
  • [A] scary inquiry.

    April 18, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • By now the director's technique is so savvy, so confident in its visual layering and atmospheric assurance, even a dodgy, cagey camera subject such as Rumsfeld becomes movieworthy.

    April 17, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Morris doesn't "break" Rumsfeld, as some think he did McNamara. He has held a mirror up to the man, and found no reflection. The viewer simply has to realize that what's important is what's not there.

    April 11, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

    John Anderson

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • What emerges is a fascinating portrait of a bygone approach to power, marked by a seemingly contradictory mix of transparency and obfuscation. Rumsfeld embodies that discrepancy.

    April 11, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Unknown Known

  • Sep 12, 2014
    An extraordinary documentary about one of the most interesting figures in American politics, The Unknown Known is a fascinating look at former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In the film documentarian Errol Morris conducts an extensive interview with Rumsfeld, covering his work in the Nixon & Ford administrations, the events of 9/11, and the War on Terror. A lot of this is done through Rumsfeld's restorations and explanations of his own extensive memorandums and dictations. And, surprisingly it's not as much of a liberal hit piece as one would expect. Though Morris steers the line of questioning at some points, Rumsfeld is allowed to speak for himself; leaving the audience to decide what to make of him. Refreshing and honest, The Unknown Known is a true documentary that allows its subject to take its own course without subterfuge or agenda.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 16, 2014
    A feature length interview with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield that (perhaps unfairly, perhaps understandably) turns into a referendum on the Iraqi invasion and the War on Terror. There are no bombshells---Rumsfield is far too savvy to sabotage himself---so this effort only adds a little context for political junkies, while being unlikely to sway anyone's opinion of this enigmatic and powerful man in one direction or another.
    Greg S Super Reviewer

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