In my early days of playing with Photoshop and trying to be creative and productive with it, there was a very good friend who had this gift for me. It was one of the first artbooks I ever had. It was about HR Giger, his life and his work. I always was a big fan of the movie Alien and fascinated by the creature design. I knew the name behind it but never really checked on background info. Every now and then I stumbled across an image that immediately made me say “that must be a Giger!”. Time moved on and to my surprise (even today) I made something off of my early Photoshop fun days and became more serious and professional. Which resulted in the fact that one of my artworks is featured in a book (Ballistic Publishing’s Expose 8) that also had a big feature about HR Giger in it. That’s a tiny bit mindblowing.
This new documentary is about Giger as a person and how his art influenced him, his friends and his life in general. Since Giger passed away not long ago, this documentary is a nice, quiet and calm sort of goodbye to, what seems like, one of the nicest guys ever. And we can be lucky and thankful to director Belinda Sallin to have this film. For me it wasn’t an easy watch to be honest. While filming, Giger wasn’t in the best condition and you could see that it’s going to end soon. While he himself does not speak too much, it’s his friends, family and colleagues who speak for him. And who else would be able to say better what kind of person he was, right? And from what is said in the film he was a very fantastic person. Not perfect of course… but kind, friendly and helpful. A very good person.
I like the title of this documentary since it’s stressing that it’s not entirely about Giger’s life itself… instead it’s more about what surrounds him and made him the artist he became/was. The film starts in his house. And you immediately feel like in some kind of labyrinth. It’s dark. Full of books and pictures. It’s neither clean or tidy… but it isn’t dirty either. It’s more of a controlled chaos. It feels organic. It’s a world in its own. And that’s what the documentary does very well. It’s no documentary with fancy graphics and design elements… it’s all film and presented in an organic fashion. Well suited for Giger and his work. We learn a lot about the people who followed him over the years. There is not a single person who said anything negative about him. Everyone who is talking about him, spoke with a certain warmth, respect and passion. Giger left a fingerprint on these people and it’s not because of his work. It’s because of what kind of person he was. He was not able to see the final film but I can imagine that he would have been very happy about everything his friends had to say about him.
In the middle of the film we get some more insight into his work life. How he’s inspired and where his ideas come from. Along with some fascinating speculations by his colleagues and friends. Although that’s all very vague. Giger himself doesn’t really know how and why he comes up with these images. Images that are so strange and yet familiar. Images that could be so frightening but are so much more fascinating. We get to see some rare footage from the production of Alien in the late 1970s. Back then he was full of energy and at his creative peak. He moved on winning the Oscar for his design work on Alien. We see that Oscar in his house. A little dusty… but still shining. Then we go on and learn about his parents that were mighty proud of their son. You can see it in their eyes. And isn’t it that what every child wants? To see that glimpse of pride in the eyes of their parents when they talk about their kids? And as the viewer of this documentary you’re constantly wondering how such a great and likeable person could come up with these strange paintings.
But Giger’s work is not limited to paintings alone. He also made a lot of sculptures that look equaly strange and yet familiar like his paintings. We see the Bar he designed and his personal Museum. So much amazing work in there. All these paintings in their original size just look great.
At the end of the film Giger is wandering around in his museum and it really feels like a goodbye. It turned out that it really was the last time he was there. It’s kind of sad. But on the other hand it’s amazing work he created, that definitely made him immortal and something he will be remembered for. Beside that moment there are a lot of touching sequences in this film. He left his mark on a lot of people. Not just friends and relatives. Later in the film we hear him say that he’s happy with his life and how it turned out. Which makes the fact that he’s no longer with us less sad.
Ultimately this is a must see movie for anyone who has a slightest interest in art or even movies. A perfect double feature with Jodorowsky’s Dune. It’s a very quiet and respectful portrait of one of the most fascinating and original artists in recent history.
The guys over at The Projection Booth have a nice talk about this documentary as well: Check it here
Dark Star: HR Gigers Welt on IMDb