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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Giger: Healing in Unusual Ways

"Birth Machine", by H.R. Giger. Phot...
"Birth Machine", by H.R. Giger. Photograph taken by Ojw of a sculpture on display outside the Museum H. R. Giger in Gruyères (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The sudden death of H.R. Giger immediately prompted me to consider the value of legacy. Giger was a weaver of imaginative landscapes that sprawled out and overran into places even some of the boldest artists of today would not dare venture. He was the quintessential modern surrealist who emerged in the 1970s with a vision that would have a profound effect on art, entertainment and culture. His most obvious home in popular culture was science fiction and fantasy, where his work as a set designer has assured his legacy in film. 

His most enduring creation will always be the titular creature of Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, “Alien”. Touted as “Jaws in Space” to prospective producers, the film is probably Scott’s greatest achievement and Stephen King lists it as one of the greatest horrors ever made. Like Giger’s infectious influence, the film transcends genres and begs the attention of a wide range of audiences. This is in no small part down to Giger’s vision. King more than implied in his “Danse Macabre” that the very best horror built up suspense with the unseen – and in this respect 1963’s “The Haunting” was a truemasterpiece – but it must ultimately have the pay-off by revealing object of horror. This is often where cinema nearly always falls down, especially if the suspense element is done moderately well. Scott’s direction matches both Spielberg and even Hitchcock in the voyeuristic way he weaves camera angles through the twisted and claustrophobic corridors of Giger’s set designs and in the patient way he plays out some highly restrained drama. It is no small tribute to Giger that he delivers on Scott’s dark promise.