Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World
no other Swiss dude ever creeped out as many people as Hansruedi “H.R.” Giger—and
his fans loved him for it. His ominous visions of sexualized dystopias are
uniquely distinctive and immediately identifiable as Giger. He was an artist
with a rabid fanbase who was also steadily gaining stature in the proper museum
world, like a Warhol with talent. One year after his death, almost to the date
(5/12/2014), documentarian Belinda Sallin introduces fans into the cult figure’s
private life in Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s
which opens today in New York.
designs for Jodorowsky’s oh-so-close-to-being-realized Dune could have stood the film world on its ear, but that is a
lament for another documentary. However, connections initially made through the
celebrated non-film subsequently led to Giger’s Oscar winning design work for
Ridley Scott’s Alien. Giger’s fate
would not be denied. Perhaps Giger’s most recognizable album cover is Emerson, Lake
& Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery,
but arguably just about every 1980s Heavy Metal cover owes him a debt of
is hard to make a dull film about someone who is regularly asked to sign body
parts (as we see from time to time), but Dark
Star quietly gets off to a slow start. There is a lot of milling around
Giger’s Escher-esque house, as he graciously hosts friends and family. It is
nice to know Giger’s final months were pleasant, but the film only starts
getting interesting when it explores the psychological roots of his macabre,
futuristic images. Much of the film’s psychoanalyzing is appropriately done by
Czech psychiatrist and Giger crony Stanislav Grof (a good head-shrinker name if
ever there was one).
is fascinating to contrast Giger’s nightmarish images with his genial presence.
Physically, the artist had clearly lost a step or two, but he was as sharp (and
eccentric) as ever. Of course, his art is really the main attraction and it has
lost none of its potency. Sallin’s basic strategy was to hang out and capture
as many telling moments as she could. It is not a radical approach, but it will
suit Giger’s fans (many of whom are large tattooed men you should not
Star is a reasonably compelling
and wholly respectful portrait of an artist in his final days. It is nice to
have it for posterity, but everyone would prefer Jodorowsky’s Dune if that were somehow an option.
Recommended for Giger fans, Dark Star: H.R.
Giger’s World opens today (5/15) in New York, at the Landmark Sunshine.
Labels: Documentary, H.R. Giger