Wrapped last year shortly before its subject’s death at age 74, the documentary “Dark Star: H. R. Giger’s World” provides an overview of the life and times of the Swiss Surrealist best known for his Oscar-winning visual effects in Ridley Scott’s “Alien.”
It’s not an opportunity to witness a great artist at work, per se. What little of his process can be gleaned here comes via excerpts from other documentaries filmed in the 1970s during his prime. Instead, director Belinda Sallin opts to paint this portrait primarily with his psychological profile, the contemplation of his legacy and his unremarkably mundane autumn years.
Despite the nightmarish imagery he often conjured up, Giger possessed an air of whimsy and childlike wonder. At age 6, his father gave him a skull that traumatized him. Giger became obsessed with overcoming his fears, something he’d eventually channel into art. He created a ghost ride as a child and charged neighborhood kids admission; as an adult he built a more elaborate one complete with a monorail in his garden.
With his Hollywood fame and goth fans, Giger became something of an outsider in the art world. He bought back some of his work from private collectors over the years and eventually opened his own museum in Gruyères, Switzerland. “Dark Star” might have been more fascinating had Sallin delved deeper into his place as an artist.
“Dark Star: H. R. Giger’s World.”
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Playing: Landmark’s Nuart, West Los Angeles.