Two Films of Johan Grimonprez
February 22, 2015 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Johan Grimonprez is a Belgian multimedia artist, filmmaker, and curator. He is most known for two 'not-quite documentary' films which use experimental forms to explore the relationship between media, politics, history, identity, and manipulation in the second half of the twentieth century: 1997's dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y , which traces the history of skyjacking throughout the 20th century using montages, and Double Take, which explores the Cold War through the lens of real and imagined versions of Alfred Hitchcock and Folger's instant coffee commercials. Both are available online.

Mark Peranson said of Grimonprez's films in an interview in Cinema Scope magazine: "Evoking a specific cultural zeitgeist, they speak to the need to see history at a distance, but at the same time to speak from inside it."

dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y
As a history of pre-9/11 airplane terrorism released in 1997, dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y offers a unique perspective on how the increase in immediate worldwide media coverage and the popularity of air travel fed off each other, using montages of media coverage and safety videos and other ephemeral videos from the time.

Full film with French subtitles
Non-subtitled clips are numbered, but not in the same order as the original film: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14|Playlist of clips

Frieze magazine review of dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y

Double Take
Directed and written by Grimonprez, based on a story by Tom McCarthy and inspired by the essay “August 25, 1983” by Jorge Luis Borges, Double Take is "about" an imagined conversation between Alfred Hitchcock during a break on the set of The Birds and a mysteriously familiar man from 18 years in his future. It is also "about" Khrushchev, Nixon, Kennedy, and the Cold War. It is also "about" the relationship between film and television. It is also "about" the need for women to prepare their husbands the perfect cup of coffee.

Trailer 1|Trailer 2|Trailer 3, Trailer 4|Trailer 5
Double Take is also currently available on Netflix streaming (US)

New York Times review of Double Take
Johan Grimonprez & Tom McCarthy interviewed by Alexander Provan
posted by MCMikeNamara (3 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I saw it at its release along with some other Grimonprez work at Documenta X in Kassel. I enjoyed it a lot, and it drew a lot of repeat visits from the shots of plane crashes set to Van McCoy's "The Hustle".

One warning about dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y is that it includes some Russian television interviews of a shot and dying hijacker.

It also serves as a kind of audiovisual experiment that explores ideas in Don DeLillo's Mao II, where novelists are supplanted by terrorists by their ability to draw the public's attention, to challenge held expectations and shift positions.

Very dreamlike. Worth watching.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:32 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is great. I saw dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y In NYC and found it both 'funny' and very unsettling. The net effect was of watching these hijacking a as a cultural outsider - as though it were free of all the baggage it normally carried with it (terror, fear, anger or sympathy towards the instigators). Weird, great piece.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:10 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I loved dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y so much that I hunted it down on the internet and bought the book/DVD. It was on some great cable network that no longer exists.
posted by NoMich at 5:56 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

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