Review: Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World – An island of oddity

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Dark Star: H.R. Giger's WorldDo you remember when you were growing up and all the kids were afraid of that one creepy old house up the street and the strange people who lived there? No one really knew what went on inside that place, and the truth is you probably didn’t really want to know. Well, in Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World you get to see beyond that creaky old gate in the front yard, and what you find on the other side is weirder (or maybe more wonderful) than anything you could have imagined.

This excellent documentary film, by director Belinda Sallin, explores the home and the psyche of the world famous surrealist artisan, H.R. Giger; who is best known for his design work on the original Alien film, but who has a dedicated cult following that is enamored with his wickedly dark and eccentric biomechanical stylings.

Beyond Alien, Giger’s work has been showcased in everything from architecture to magazines and music album covers. Just put his name into Google image search and you’ll come up with enough nightmares to last a few lifetimes. Not only did this guy talk the macabre talk, he also walked-the-walk.

In the film, which completed shooting just shortly before the artist’s death, Giger is a 73 year-old man surrounded by haunting artifacts of his life’s work. He’s struggling to shuffle through each day, but he’s content with his many significant accomplishments and his eerie surroundings. He even manages a wry grin for the camera now and then.

Dark Star: H.R. Giger's WorldGiger’s home is an island of oddity in the midst of the busy metropolis of Zurich, Switzerland, and the movie begins with a slow pan and zoom from the city into the his yard and through the front door of the artist’s kingdom; which is cluttered with decades worth of paintings, sculptures, books and skulls. As the camera floats through the maze of hallways and stairwells you might find yourself thinking, ‘I bet this guy has a real skeleton or two in his closet.’

From the first few minutes of the movie we learn that since he was a child, after being teased by his father and his sister, Giger has been on a mission to prove he is not afraid of death, and his art is a reflection of his fearlessness, or at least therapy to help alleviate his fear.

In Dark Star we spend several days with Giger and see interviews with the people who know him best, including his wife, former wives and girlfriends, assistants, managers and colleagues; each with a different perspective of this unusual man. We even become acquainted with his pet cat, Muggi III, which steals every shot it is in.

Dark Star: H.R. Giger's WorldAs strange as Giger’s home is, it still seemed perfectly suited to the artist. I laughed with friends after the screening that if someone oblivious to the man and his work had to pick the homeowner out of a lineup, they would match Giger with the house every time.

We also get to tag along on a journey to Giger’s childhood home in the beautiful countryside of Chur, Switzerland; as well as following the artist on a trip to his museum at the Chateau St. Germain in Gruyeres, Switzerland, where he interacts with fans who are in stuttering awe of their hero.

If you have even a casual interest in Giger’s art, I think you’ll find this movie fascinating and you’ll probably walk away with a greater appreciation of his work. If you are already a big fan of the man, then it goes without saying that this is a must-see. Grade: 7.5/10

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