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The true story of Doug Bruce who woke up on Coney Island with total amnesia. This documentary follows him as he rediscovers himself and the world around him.

  • Rupert Murray
  • Court TV
  • FilmFour
  • Spectre Films
Just imagine waking up tomorrow with no memory of today or any other since the day of your birth. Imagine living without a history, without experience, no relationships, no past troubles. Imagine starting your life over again, making a new set of friends, finding new talents and falling in love for the first time. Imagine what it's like to see the world anew. On the 2nd July 2003 Doug Bruce left his apartment on the Lower East Side at about 8pm. No one knew where he was going. No one knew he'd gone. He turned up, 11 hours later, on the New York subway heading to Coney Island. He had no idea who he was. Unknown White Male is the startling story of a man who, for no apparent reason, lost 37 years of life history, who lost every memory of his friends, his family and every experience he had ever known. This true story follows Doug in the hours and months following his amnesia, as he tries to pierce his life back together and has to discover the world anew. The film dramatically reconstructs those first terrifying hours in Coney Island as Doug wandered around disoriented before asking the police for help and being sent to Coney Island Hospital Psychiatric ward where he was given an identity wrist tag reading 'Unknown White Male'. Doug had nothing to identify him and whilst he discovered after a few hours that he was able to sign his name, no one could read his signature and reveal his name. Unable to leave until someone could identify him, all attention turned to the single phone number in his possession. The woman on the other end, Eva, didn't recognize him. Finally Eva sent her daughter Nadine to investigate. Nadine recognized the man she had recently become friends with, Douglas Bruce, a good looking, English 37 year old wealthy ex-stockbroker and photography student. She took him home. The film recounts the next crazy few weeks as Doug tried to reconstruct some kind of life; re-learning the streets around his apartment, re-meeting his family, re-learning the history of the world and what it feels like to swim in the ocean. It's an overwhelming voyage of discovery as Doug discovers art, music, movies the taste of every kind of different food and much of it was filmed by Doug himself who started recording his re-entry into the world just one week after the amnesia. Doctors were unable to find any physical basis for the amnesia and over the following months we follow Doug as he returns to his photography school where his tutor believes his work has greatly improved. He falls in love with a girl he has just met and slowly re-meets old friends including director Rupert Murray who filmed their first meeting even though he has known Doug for over 15 years. Will they still like one another? Together they travel back to London for a reunion with Doug's oldest friends. One year after the amnesia and his friends in London offer him a toast to his first birthday. Everyone seems sure that Doug has changed since the amnesia. Many people prefer the new Doug, find him more sincere and reflective but others miss the old Doug's edge and cynicism. Yet for the first year and a half, Doug didn't want his memory or his old self back. He was happy with his new life, believed it was possible to live without a past and simply looked forward to his future. But in the last few months all this has begun to change as the full implications of his loss have begun to resonate in his life and Doug has started to question who he really is.
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