Image credit: H R Giger
Every artist generates a different set of experiences and memories, depending on when one encounters a given artist’s work for the first time. In the case of Hansruedi Giger, one will likely recognize him for designing the queen mother Alien featured to astounding affect in Ridley Scott’s iconic 1979 film, which, of course, haunted various sequels and spinoffs, not mention appearing in other media, such as graphic novels. As for Giger’s accomplishments as an artist, one may also bring to mind the cover of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 prog-rock album Brain Salad Surgery, which, in my opinion, wasn’t metal enough for such splendid Gigerian imagery. Speaking of which, one may also recall Giger’s cover art for the June 1980 issue of Heavy Metal Magazine or the Giger gallery contained in the June 1982 issue. With respect to album cover art, Giger did get more metal by doing covers for Celtic Frost, Danzig, and Triptykon, while availing his genius to the likes of Debbie Harry’s 1981 Koo Koo and The Dead Kennedys’ 1985 Frankenchrist.
In the case of Belinda Sallin’s 2014 documentary, the Swiss artist is filmed at his home and at various exhibit openings and book signings, in which he’s clearly adored. In fact, in a later scene in which various bearded, pierced, and tattooed men and women line up to get their hero’s autograph, one can easily say that Giger is also worshipped. As for the rest of the film, it’s a fascinating portrayal of the man behind the archetypal images. However, Sallin’s film is less a biography and more of an interpretation of artist and work. One does learn something of Giger’s childhood, including his early fascination with death, in addition to a life-changing tragedy that befell his first wife. Moreover, the film shows on-camera anecdotes and reflections from a wide and interesting assortment of friends, collaborators, and devotees. Among the more intriguing comments are those offered by his wife and partner Carmen Maria Giger, who directs the H R Giger Museum, and Stanislav Grof, psychiatrist, medical philosopher, and longtime friend. As for Giger himself, he’s sufficiently brilliant and a bit creepy. In the end, if you love Giger’s work, then you’ll this homage to his legacy. Indeed, the scenes in which one can watch Giger creating are truly captivating.
Image credit: Belinda Sallin