Hans Rudolf Giger was a sculptor, painter and movie set designer. Born in the 1940s in a small town in Switzerland, his most notable achievement was the Oscar he won for Visual Effects for his work in Alien (1979). But outside of this glory he was a fascinatingly accomplished artist who created a spooky, mysterious and dark world around him. Giger was an artist who lived his art.
The new documentary about his work, filmed just before he passed in 2014, looks at his life and work that spanned five decades. The film DARK STAR: H.R. GIGER’S WORLD begins with Giger reminiscing about holding a skull his father had given him when he was only 6 years old. That perhaps was the beginning of his relationship with death, dread and darkness. These three elements remained omnipresent in Giger’s world. Even the space of his home is full of sculptures, pictures and references to everything that is dark and spooky. The film explores his elaborate work, which created dread through various stages of a human being’s life. From pre-natal trauma of the fetus to manifestation of demonic attributes through the bodies of women, Giger himself, in his mannerisms and his body language, seems very impacted by his work and his surroundings. Age is certainly a factor in how we present ourselves, but looking at Giger, one sees that dread and death are not distant realities, but integral to who he was.
The documentary uses interesting analysis and commentary of psychiatrist/author Stanislav Grof, who is writing a book on Giger. He discusses his book and the aspects of Giger’s life that he is exploring. He relates the psychological nuances of Giger’s work and relates it to how we think and who we are. There are many other interviews with friends, collaborators and protégés reflecting on the genius of Giger.
In parts the film looks like fantasy fiction, both in how it’s crafted and how it’s filmed. The long camera shots panning over images and spaces creates the eerie feeling that symbolizes Giger’s life.
The documentary looks at the fascinating world that this brilliant man created, the world he inhabited, continued to recreate and enrich till the end of his life. As Giger sits with his sketchbook with his cat Muggi in tow, creating the images that he is most familiar with, even after his death his work continues to haunt.
The documentary DARK STAR: H.R. GIGER’S WORLD is playing at Cinema du Parc.