–A Review of Errol Morris’ film The Unknown Known
By Michael Troncale
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”
–Ron Suskind, quoting from a conversation he had with a ‘senior advisor’ to President Bush
“War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible. But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous. When war is continuous there is no such thing as military necessity. Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded.”
–1984, George Orwell
Errol Morris’ latest documentary, The Unknown Known, is basically a two hour monologue from Donald Rumsfeld, often in narration played over Morris’ usual visual pyrotechnics. The film is broken occasionally with a question from the unseen Morris, but this is Rumsfeld’s show, and he relishes the chance to explain himself and engage in the linguistic obfuscation and near madness that were the hallmark of his time as Secretary of Defense.