Many artists gain notoriety after their death. While their lives are chronicled, it’s often through a posthumous biopic in which it’s necessary the artist be portrayed by some actor who mimics their ability for the screen. However more documentary filmmakers have been taking the opportunity to record their talents and tales while the subject is still alive and able to share a first-hand account. Though Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World is being released after the artist’s death, it’s still a privileged instance in which a notoriously private figure opened his life for the film.
Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger first sought fame via poster art, having been advised that it was the best way to expose his work to a wide-ranging populace. His dark, erotic, science fiction images undoubtedly struck a chord with audiences and he gained a devoted fan base. He later published Necronomicon, a collection of his images and paintings. It’s this work that provoked Ridley Scott to enlist Giger to create the monster imagery in Alien. After the production, Giger became a well-known, almost celebrity artist in certain communities, though not much was known about his personal life.
Director Belinda Sallin appears to be given unobstructed access to Giger’s life, friends and family. Interviews with his wife, mother-in-law, agent, curators, assistants, exes and others recount Giger’s life from the early years to the present. His current assistant is actually a metal musician who became an admirer in his youth and now works for the artist. Giger himself speaks rarely but somewhat candidly about specific, momentous events in his life, including the death of his first partner. The structure is not exactly chronological, but it examines his life and relationships often relative to their effect on his work.
In addition to discussing Giger’s life, the other main focus is on his work, which is inspired by his dreams/nightmares and deals primarily with birth, sex and death. Many interviewees comment that he existed in a world that would disturb most other people. Even though he became famous through his role with Alien, it was his already existing art that inspired the figure. Some viewers may be disappointed the movie only occupies a small section of the documentary, but it’s also fascinating to see the extent of Giger’s work created and developed over several decades. Even so, the part dedicated to his participation in Alien is still one of the coolest parts of the film with animatronics, full-size costumes and functioning eggs depicted in a short segment. Moreover, the Xenomorph imagery is present in almost all of his work.
Giger’s house is described as a “treasure trove” as it’s virtually a museum of his work and this film only seems to scratch the surface of his mesmerizing legacy.
Director: Belinda Sallin