H. R. Giger's World"
Screening Dates: May 23, 24, and 26 at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
Running Time: 95 minutes
Shot before H. R. Giger’s untimely passing in 2014, director Belinda Sallin’s documentary Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World finds the influential Swiss surrealist holding court in his multi-building Zurich home that is packed to the rafters with his biomechanical art, books and magazines, and a miniature railroad line. He looks old and weak, which may explain why he doesn’t offer very many new insights into his art or his creative process. Instead, Dark Star turns to those close to Giger—including his wife Carmen Maria Giger and current and former assistants—to dissect the mind of a man who employed art that combined images of birth, sex and death in a bid to confront and overcome both childhood and adult fears. Giger reinforces this by recalling how, when he was 6 years old, he received the gift of a human skull from his father. “It did scare me a little. To hold death in your hands like that is, well, it’s not very pleasant,” Giger says. It’s really the only anecdote of note that Sallin gets from Giger. This forces Sallin to rely heavily on archival interviews and footage to trace Giger’s pre- and post-Alien success and recognition. Alien is mentioned in passing—mostly in the context of how it turned Giger into a hot property—and Species is footnoted in a way only those familiar with that inferior sci-fi chiller will catch. There are fleeting moments when Giger is shown at work, either sketching or collaborating with others on a new book, but there isn’t enough to give a true sense of how Giger approached creating his art. This is not like last year’s superior For No Good Reason, which balanced its look back at the career and achievements of gonzo artist Ralph Steadman by capturing him hard at work in his studio. However, Sallin offers a marvelous inside look Giger’s home that seems to be part studio, part museum, and part sanctuary. It’s easy to get lost in Giger’s home just looking at his artwork that he has on display, and it is noted by an assistant that no one could find Giger when he went into hiding to work. We even tag along as Giger gets on his minature train to whiz around a backyard art installation/ghost ride that psychiatrist Stanislav Grof believes represents the perinatal journey, or the trauma of birth. “I think that when you die, that’s the end. I don’t think you live on after death or have another life after death,” says Giger. Spoke like a man and an artist whose preoccupation with death will allow his work to live on for years to come. Robert Sims
Aired: May 21, 2015
Web site: http://www.darkstar-movie.com/