Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World (“Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s Welt”)
A Creator of the Macabre
Throughout his life, HR Giger’s world was one of the uncanny— “a dark universe on the brink of many an abyss”. This was what allowed him to keep his fears in check. Giger was a bearer of dark messages and in this film we learn about the man who was a controversial yet acclaimed painter, sculptor, architect and designer and Oscar winner. (‘Alien’).
Giger’s home is as close to a museum of the macabre than people want to get. Director Belinda Sallin tracks us through that museum that is his Zurich house and we see all kinds of monsters right there alongside his Oscar that he won for special effects in “Alien”. We also hear from some of those who collaborated with him and who have something to say about the “psycho-sexual, violent undertow of Giger’s startling images”. Not a great deal is said about Giger’s work and this is probably so that the creations that we see speak for themselves.
What many will find surprising is that Giger seems to be very soft-spoken and humble— the opposite of what his creations represent. At his home, his work is everywhere—his drawings hang on the walls, his sculptures fill his backyard. His home is baroque in style and it is fascinating to see Giger there. The clutter that we see leads us to believe that Giger has already made peace with the darker side of humanity.
The film opens with a shot of the outside of Giger’s residence that is like something in a film about a haunted house. But then the camera pans on Zurich and we see that this documentary also includes the world around the man.
Giger does not get around easily and does not say much. A few months after this film was finished, he fell down the stairs of his home and died. Here we see him as a man who is warm but with a sense of dread. His friends and family loved him.
His wife does most of the talking about the art in their home. Before watching this film all that I knew about Giger was that he won the Academy Award for “Alien”. I now see that his entire world was quite dark and that his artwork was based in his inner fears.
Director Sallin uses many interviews with Giger and those closest to him as well as archival footage to give us the life of the man. Giger shows us his skull collection and Giger’s second wife Carmen talks about how he continually reinvested his earnings in his work, often just scraping by. Long time friend and assistant Tom, a musician and fan influenced by his boss’s work, is still finding things in file drawers (and speaks of the artist’s generosity in supporting his own early work). Most amusingly, Tom’s ‘office mate’ is Giger’s mother-in-law, a spirited woman who keeps his books and is amused by people’s reactions to her famous son-in-law.