Capsule Review: Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1998)

Dial HISTORY poster

New media artist Johan Grimonprez takes the silhouette of airplanes and transforms it to a symbol of revolution, protest, and identity in this pre-9/11 documentary of the gradual increase of hijacking globally and its transformation from individual agents trying to redirect flights to bring attention to a cause to increasingly bloody and terrorist-driven attacks on the structures of the planes and the people in them. Documentary footage of plane hijacks from the 1960s to the 1990s is intercut with various commercial and avant-garde imagery and voice over selections of Don DeLillo’s postmodern alienation novels. Above all, Grimonprez points out the cameras that swarm to cover the hijacking or destruction of a plane and uses DeLillo’s passages to showcase how ‘a news of constant crisis replaces the need for a novel’ in modern life.

–DB

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