By Bill Arceneaux
Towards the end of Dark Star: HR Giger’s World, we see the aging artist seated at a desk, signing copies of his work on the movie Alien—which originally brought him to prominence. His manager hands him copy after copy, and Giger signs and signs again, looking foul and tired. I say looking, as this is just his appearance, and this can be deceptive. By this point, we know Giger to be a fairly social and polite person, joyful in his accomplishments. His body expresses one thing, while his mind suggests something completely different. He isn’t quite a contradiction, but rather a peculiarity.
Giger is shown living on a property in the middle of some woods, which itself is in a metro area. From the outside, his home looks rather normal, aged and covered up by nature. Take a closer look and peer inside, and you’ll leave behind that normality. Sculptures of dying fetuses, nude bodies and other somewhat edgy and violent imagery adorn a smallish kiddy train ride he built himself. This attraction is but one piece of a Pee Wee’s Playhouse type of living space. Every wall and corner of his home is covered by drawings and designs, constantly showing him (and us) what his potential for creation is, as well as what dark thoughts lurk in the back of people’s minds. Now, Dark Star is not a feature length episode of MTV’s Cribs, though his home does say a lot about who he is, or maybe of whom he wants to be reminded.
He creeps around, room to room, like a living apparition. Not quite haunting anyone or anything in particular, but maybe existing as someone with strong energy. The movie certainly encourages this idea, capturing his movements in hiding, and contrasting with his beloved cat—who is mimicking who here? The thesis seems to be that Giger is more spirit than man, more aura than flesh, so this connection with a feline feels appropriate if you believe in the mysterious and unknown.
It’s interesting to me that someone who created such disturbing and absorbing drawings and designs could be highly relatable. Well, interesting in the sense that I personally related to him. He wears his timidity and anxiety on his sleeve, but doesn’t seem to let it bother him, as he invites others to visit and dine with him. He’s generous, reaching out to fans all over and touching lives in the smallest (and grandest) of ways. And his thoughts on the afterlife? Finite, wonderful and even comforting to a point.
Giger passed away shortly after production ended, something that is woven into the presentation in an almost perfect example of placement and editing. No, it wasn’t scary. No, it wasn’t controversial. It was dark, but not bleak. It was emotional, but not angry. It was silent, but said so much. This is how I want my inevitable death to be like and experienced.
That or I’d like to die Harold Lloyd “hanging from a clock” style.
4 / 5 *s
Dark Star: HR Giger’s World screened at The Manship Theatre, and will be available on VOD come August.. For more from the author, follow him on twitter @BIllReviews and visit his blog CriticalNO.com.