Unknown Known: Morris’ Intriguing Docu

Director Errol Morris, who deservedly won the Best Documentary Oscar for “The Fog of War,” continues his intimate explorations of major political figures in “The Unknown Known,” a memserising portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, who had served as George W. Bush’s secretary of defense and as the principal architect of the Iraq War.

The film’s strategy is rather innovative and unconentional.  Rather than conducting in-depth but conventional interview, Morris has Rumsfeld engage in a performance piece of his own life.  More specifically, he asks the ever-controversial Rumsfeld to explain his “snowflakes,” that is, the enormous archive of memos he wrote during fifty years of service in Congress, the White House, in business, and twice at the Pentagon.

Emphasizing subjectivity, in both perception and memory, the numerous memos provide a window into Rumsefeld’s politics and positions, placed against the broader contexts of American history.  He lets Rumsefeld function as his own author and agency, allowing him to relate crucial events in politics, not as they actually happened, but as he Rumsfeld remmebers them and wants us (his audience) to see them, a journey into hiss mind and psyche, both of which are complex and intriguing.

Presenting history from the inside out, “The Unknown Known” shows how the ideas, the fears and anxieties, the fantasies and wishes, and the certainties and uncertaintiesof one man, written out on on seemingly disposable peices of paper, transformed America and forever changed the course of history.