Don Delillo: The Word, the Image, the Gun

BBC documentary film directed by Kim Evans

Don Delillo: The Word, the Image, the Gun is a 1991 documentary film by director Kim Evans.


  • Don DeLillo writes dangerous fiction. He's been called America's leading contemporary novelist, and his ten novels come directly out of the flow of recent history. The Kennedy assassination, toxic fallout, acts of terrorism; these are all part of the running picture of news against which his books are set. This film was developed in close collaboration with DeLillo. He wanted to use the documentary form to explore the relationships between gunmen and the novelist, words and images, the power of news and the obsession with apocalypse. In doing so he asks, what effect can a novelist have on a culture in which terrorists seem to have hijacked the world's narrative.

Don De LilloEdit

  • Isolation, solitude, secret plotting. A novel is a secret a writer may keep for years before he lets it out of his room. Writers in hiding, writers in prison. Sometimes their secrets turn out to be dangerous to the state machine. For most writers in the West of course this danger is extremely remote. The cells we live in are strictly personal constructions. Let's change the room slightly and imagine another kind of apartness. The outsider who builds a plot around his desperation. A self-watcher, a lonely young man, living in a fiction he hasn't bothered to put down on paper. But this doesn't mean he is unorganized, he organizes everything. This is how he keeps from disappearing. His head is filled with dangerous secrets, and he may finally devise a way to come out of his room. He invents a false name, orders a gun though the mail, then looks around for someone famous he can shoot.
  • I think it's true that none of my novels could have been written in the world that existed before the assassination. In my fiction there seems to be a sense of danger everywhere, of something unraveling. When Kennedy was shot, something changed for ever in America. Something opened up, a sense of randomness, deep ambiguity, we lost the narrative thread.
  • Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I think the footage comes close to uncovering some secret about the nature of film itself. Film carries something, some mindstream, some myth that may be common to us all. It's as though the experience of film has acquired a kind of independent existence in our consciousness, it's that deeply embedded. Have to get it on film.
  • Today it's news that has begun to influence the way we see the world. It's news that has become so extraordinarily dominant. I think we've come to depend on news, the darker the better. In a way we need it, because it is the tragic narrative of our time.
  • Stalking a victim is a way of organizing one's loneliness, making a network out of it.
  • I knew I must extend myself until the molecules parted and I was spliced into the image.

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