Johan Grimonprez

Johan Grimonprez’s Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y is a televisually stunning, macabre, and intermittently funny meditation on Don DeLillo’s work as it pertains to airplanes, terrorism, and death. It is also, in some sense, about “history” and the possibility of what that might be. This potent mixture caused a considerable stir when the video debuted at Documenta X and, more recently, when seen at Deitch Projects in New York. The film is sometimes a little too clever for its own good (and too fascinated with crashing aircraft), but it is irresistibly watchable and brilliantly paced.

Some might find the subject and how it is handled a cause for concern, and indeed the packaging suggests a certain excess of hipness. Yet Grimonprez manages, among other things, to give a jolting historical account of an unwieldy subject—the period when air traffic became a central stage for political terrorism, or what

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