Rumsfeld defends his war legacy in Venice Festival film

By Michael Roddy

VENICE (Reuters) - Errol Morris is not at all certain why former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld agreed to let him make a documentary portrait of the man who oversaw the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, but he is convinced of at least one thing.

Rumsfeld, he said, has no regrets about the campaigns.

"Rumsfeld never came even close to calling these wars a mistake, an error of judgment, let alone saying 'I am sorry'," Morris told Reuters on Thursday after the screening of his film "The Unknown Known" at the Venice Film Festival.

Rumsfeld may have expected to receive something less than a sympathetic hearing from the film maker. Both the Afghan and Iraqi wars stirred controversy over their conception and conduct. Critics have focused often on the figure of Rumsfeld, who argues that he took necessary action in a time of crisis.

Morris's film takes its title from a famous Rumsfeld dictum about what is known and what is not known, the uncertainties of intelligence. It is one of an unprecedented two documentaries in competition for the Golden Lion trophy for best picture to be awarded on Saturday night.

Asked why Rumsfeld, who had a deeply combative relationship with the press, agreed to make the film, when a lawyer for Rumsfeld had assured Morris he would not, the filmmaker said: "I don't think there are simple answers to those 'why' questions.

"Why did he agree to talk to me, why did he agree to make the movie?" Morris offered no answer to his own questions, although he had won an Oscar for his 2003 documentary "The Fog of War" about Vietnam-war era defense secretary Robert McNamara.

Rumsfeld never opened up to him the way McNamara did, Morris said, even though McNamara also never apologised, on film, for the Vietnam War, and its nearly 60,000 American war casualties.

Under Rumsfeld's tenure as defense secretary in the George W. Bush administration, the United States invaded Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for harbouring al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attack mastermind Osama bin Laden. The United States then led a coalition that invaded Iraq.

Over 4,000 U.S. service personnel were killed in the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein, a dictator with a record of brutal rule, was overthrown, but invading powers failed to find the weapons of mass destruction they had expected.

Morris, who has run into criticism at Venice that he did not seem to pepper Rumsfeld, who is 81, with tough questions, said he did not see it as his role to create a "kind of passion play where I'm the priest and my subject is in confession".

He said his portrait of the man who served in three U.S. administrations showed a "different kind of story" than what would have come out by taking a confrontational stance.

"To say that there are no difficult questions being asked in this movie is only to say that the movie works on a different principle than what we normally expect," Morris said.

"It's not somebody confronting him and shaking him by the shoulders trying to get him, 'Okay now sir, admit all of it, say you were wrong.'

"Instead, and it's part of what I do, if I'm going to be an executioner I prefer to have people hung with their own words."

(Editing by Ralph Boulton)

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Yahoo Cricket

Latest News

  • Arjun Rampal growing beard for 'Daddy'

    Mumbai, April 18 (IANS) Actor Arjun Rampal is growing a beard in preparation for his role in the film "Daddy". …

  • KJO moved by 'Humari Adhuri Kahani' trailer

    Mumbai, April 18 (IANS) Filmmaker Karan Johar has found the trailer of Mohit Suri's "Humari Adhuri Kahani" to be "compelling". The film features acting talent as wonderful as the National Award winning Vidya Balan and Rajkummar Rao, as well as Emraan Hashmi. Veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt has in the past said that the movie will perhaps turn out to be Suri's career best directorial. -*- A year since '2 States', Arjun nostalgic Time flies, and actor Arjun Kapoor agrees. …

  • 'Main Hoon (Part-Time) Killer' release pushed further

    Numbai, April 18 (IANS) The release date of filmmaker Faisal Saif's comedy spoof "Main Hoon (Part-Time) Killer", earlier titled "Main Hoon Rajinikanth", has been pushed forward from April 24 to a new date, which is yet to be locked. It is the same movie against the release of which superstar Rajinikanth had petitioned the Madras High Court for a stay last year, as he had felt the entertainer might defame him and upset his large fan base. Now, the Madras High Court is said to have instructed …

  • Online audition dates announced for K-POP India

    New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Korean Cultural Centre here has announced the online auditions of the fourth edition of K-POP 2015 festival, where artistes of the popular music genre compete with one another. In the new edition of K-POP 2015, auditions are happening on a larger scale, and not just across India, but other neighbouring countries Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal are also participating. With two and ahalf months of online auditions, K-POP will continue to pore through the submissions …

  • Akshay Kumar wraps up 'Brothers' shooting

    Mumbai, April 18 (IANS) Actor Akshay Kumar has wrapped up shooting for Dharma Productions' "Brothers", which he says has turned out to be a "memorable" film. …

  • French film shot in India to compete at Cannes

    Chennai, April 18 (IANS) French film "Dheepan", parts of which have been shot in Tamil Nadu, will vie at the competition section of the 68th Cannes International Film Festival. The last Indian film to compete for coveted Palm D'Or at the prestigious gala was Shaji N. Karun's "Swaham" in 1994. India's Wide Angle Creations, led by Suresh Balaje and George Pius collaborated with Paris' Why Not Productions' "Dheepan", directed by Jacques Audiard, for shooting in India. Balaje, who will be …

  • Amitabh Bachchan And Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Launch Jewellery Showroom At A Star-Studded Event
    Amitabh Bachchan And Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Launch Jewellery Showroom At A Star-Studded Event

    Chennaiites thronged to the much awaited launch of Kalyan Jewellers’ first showroom in Chennai. Kalyan Jewellers brand ambassadors and mega stars of Indian celluloid Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Prabhu Ganesan, Nagarjuna, Shivaraj Kumar, Manju Warrier and Vikram Prabhu regaled the crowd at the inauguration of Kalyan Jewellers’ 50th showroom in South India and 78th store globally. …

  • Kangana Ranaut’s Tanu Weds Manu Returns Trailer Creates A Splash!
    Kangana Ranaut’s Tanu Weds Manu Returns Trailer Creates A Splash!

    The team of Eros International & Colour Yellow Productions’ Tanu Weds Manu Returns are back with the highly awaited sequel, Tanu Weds Manu Returns directed by Aanand L Rai, starring R.Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut!The trailer of the film that launched 3 days ago, was received with heavy applause by the audience and the industry alike and is fast trending on the social media platform.Several personalities took to a popular micro-blogging site to voice their praise –The first to talk about the …

Loading...