IN THEIR OWN WORDS
|MOVIELINE magazine, November 1997
"Director Tales of an Alien"
by Stephen Rebello
Quotes from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of ALIEN Resurrection
"The people who made the first Alien were artists, Ridley Scott, (alien designer H.R.) Giger, the writers - they invented everything. The rest of us who follow are artisans. That first film is a work of art, an entity all its own"
CINEMA (Ausgabe 12/97), Europas größte Filmzeitschrift:
Frage an J.P. Jeunet: Sigourney Weaver ist bekanntlich nicht zimperlich, wenn Sie Ihren Willen durchsetzen will. Worin bestand ihr Einfluß als Co-Produzentin?
J.P Jeunet: "Sie hat nicht co-produziert. Diesen Credit verlangte nur ihr Vertrag - und offen gestanden ist es für mich eines der Rätsel von Hollywood, wie diese Nennungen zustande kommen. Walter Hill, noch ein Co-Produzent, habe ich nie zu Gesicht bekommen".
|H.R. GIGER'S FILM DESIGN BOOK, 1996
Introduction by RIDLEY SCOTT
I was first introduced to H.R.Giger's art work while in the very early stages of pre-production for ALIEN. The writer and co-producer Dan O'Bannon showed me a copy of "H.R. Giger's Necronomicon" book, and I immediately saw the potential his work had to offer the project. The executive producers were a bit hesitant in initially committing to his art until they had a director locked up. In this case that wound up being me. My enthusiasm with regard to the film increased significantly as I realized we had the ability to create a monster that would be superior to most of those from the past. Initially, Giger wanted to design the creature form scratch. However, I was so impressed with his "Necronom IV" and "V" paintings form the "Necronomicon" book that I insisted he follow their form. I had never been so sure of anything in my life. They were quite specific to what I envisioned for the film, particularly in the unique manner in which they conveyed both horror and beauty.
I found the experience of working with Giger to be a very positive one. He threw himself into the project with great intensity, and he was always very ready to listen and come up with useful solutions to the daily challenges which we face on such a complex film. For me, it was immediately apparent that Giger should also sculpt his own designs, as well. I had visited him in Switzerland and became aware of his talents in working in three dimensions and I never considered any other option.
With further respect to ALIEN, Giger's designs were an especially unique experience for the audience. The world had simply never seen anything like that before. His work contributed significantly to the commercial success of the film.
I think you would have to compare Giger's work on ALIEN to the great German expressionistic films of the early part of this century, such as THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and NOSFERATU. Although I don't think Giger's work is specifically reminiscent of these films in terms for aesthetic, it does harken back to them in the sense of originality and vision. It is extremely difficult to attain a "special tone" to a film which isn't seen as interfering with the story or worse yet, regarded as "artsy" - a very pejorative word in mainstream cinema. Movies, by their very nature and their costs, are a constant negotiation between compromise and what "I would really like..."
At its essence, Giger's art digs down into our psyches and touches our very deepest primal instincts and fears. His work has always had a disturbing effect on me, as it has had on so many others. I find it ultimately transcends discussion as to what category of artist he may fall into. He is simply unique within the world in which he exists, and his art stands in a category of its own. The proof of this lies in the intensity of his work and imagination, which I can only compare to Hieronymus Bosch and Francis Bacon in their powers to provoke and disturb.
Though I haven't searched for new science fiction projects since I did ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER, I have found that the genre enables one to work in an area where virtually anything is possible, and with current technology, can be made believable. I have come close to working with Giger on a couple of projects since we did ALIEN and it is my strong hope that we can work together again in bringing something special to the screen.
RIDLEY SCOTT 1996
|GIGER'S NECRONOMICON 2
English Edition, 1992 Morpheus International
"There can be few, if any, painters, in the history of fantastic art whose images have touched so many minds in such a short period as those of Giger. Though many of the great artists of the fantastique Breughel, Goya, Daumier, Dore were very public artists, with their work displayed in churches and salons, newspapers, prints, pamphlets and books, the sum of their admirers during their lifetimes cannot be equalled the audiences that have seen the Alien films since they were made. But while the cinema's power to disseminate images is worthy of note, its very ubiquity may make audiences neglectful of the source of those images. It is Giger's paintings which are his true gift to the world of the imagination: the creations which the Alien films for their power to excite, can but wanly imitate. To simply characterize Giger as "the artist of Alien" is like calling Michelangelo the set designer for the Agony and the Ecstasy.
The images Giger has created have a power that demands closer and more reflective study than the sleek, slick hyperactive style of modern fantastic cinema allows. Without such close scrutiny the ambiguities at the heart of the work remain unexplored: the creatures he paints are reduced to the condition of monsters, the scenarios he depicts trivialized to the point where all they elicit is disgust.
I ask you, look again. Though we come into Giger's world astonished and intimidated by its strangeness, it does not take long to learn its codes and its iconography, and the more familiar we become with the landscape and its inhabitants the more familiar it seems. Like all great visionnaries, Giger has no truck with superfice; he plunges his hands into the raw stuff of our subconscious, and using methodologies that are unique to him creates a state that is rigorous, hierarchical and, for all its abysmal depths, inviting" 'In mapping the tribal lands of our psyches Giger gives us fresh access to them. He frees us, in essence, to wander there, encouraged by the fact that others have gone before. He makes us brave, and I can think of few higher ambitions for any art. Following where he's gone, we discover that this new country, which we came into fearful of our sanity, about our lives in countless places. We are not, after all, strangers here. It's the world we must return into the world of the mortgage payment and the tax return;of the domestic tiff and the public slight that seems chilling, repulsive, alien."
|HR GIGER'S BIOMECHANICS, 1990
The man is trying to unnerve us. And that, in and of itself, is a noble, worthy, artistic endeavour. He isn't trying to quell or jangled sensibilities, nor trying to lull us with restatements of our naturalistic status quo. For Pete's sake just look at what he shows us, look at the iconographic choices he makes. He gives us the elements of the shark, the spider, the scorpion, insects, worms, crocodiles, teeth, crushing limbs, wombs, razor surfaces across and down which we slide unable to get a hand hold, bottomless depths, malevolent eyes, the death rictus and sybaritic leer. This man knows what we fear. And he shows it to us again and again. Don't bother me with this "terrible beauty" nonsense. That's for parvenus, for diddlers. Giger is working with primal materials, and his mission is to stand our hair on end. To unnerve us. There is already a plethora that spends its time telling us how secure and swell everything is. There will always be medicore men and women who gravitate to the Better Business Bureau and the Establishment of the Safe Ideas Boosters and flag wavers; pollyannas and con-artists those who lie without knowing they lie because they cannot face the truth and those with veted interests who lie because it is in their best interests. And the artists will continue to be called depreaved, decadent, obscene, disgusting, troublesome, unnerving. Ah, yes, precisely the point."
| STRANGE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SWISS
by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein
H.R Giger is a man easily misunderstood. Dressed in black with his intense
fascination witrh bones and skulls. Yet, like his many fantasy art contemporaries, he is merely attratcted to the imagery.
The clandestine has always attracted people, just as the forbidden fruit has. The same goes for Giger and his powerful work. He goes beyond conventional; he takes things further than most of us do. When the movie Alien first appeared, it was Giger's designs that stirred up all that pseudosensationalist bullshit. Giger became internationally notorious as Alien, and the Alien images became banned. Theaters in England even offered special treatment for Alien shock. The full sized Alien, face hugger, and baby Alien that burst out of the man's stomach were all "too" strong.
When KooKoo came out, there was the same intense reaction. "Did you hear about your cover being banned by British Rail?" asked an English journalist during a phone interview while we were in Switzerland.
That was the first we heard of the reaction. Then another British station
banned the cover from televison. The expalanation: it was too disturbing.
We knew the cover would cause reaction, but may be we were overconfident, even naive, to belive it would simply be taken as art. It was a risk we were
willing to take. Risk taking was something we have been familiar with. We were conscious of what was involved. It is a matter of having style more than anything else, something Giger understands and possesses as well.
Giger also play the opposites; that is the essence of his work. In a
philosophy called aesthetic realism, th use of opposites makes things in art
and life challenging. What is beautiful and horrible, appealing and
frightening, whatever draws you and repels, biological and organic in Giger's
own vision is all related. Even in music production it is the same
combination of opposites, of working with machines to produce the organic
sonds of music.
Ever since we met Giger, we've thought of working together.
Similar loves for science fiction, skulls, and pagan archetypes forged an
automatic union. We remembered his posters in the late sixties when he was the first European psychedelic-poster artist. Then we knew of him as the artist of Alien. And we found out that Giger began listening to us while working on
Alien in England. Our ascendance paralleled his as we simultaneously became
aware of each other. So when the decision faced us to do the album cover, a
phone call was made, arrangements were discussed, and Giger was on the job. From a head shot by English photographer Brian Aris, Giger did four massive airbrushed paintings, all of his own design. But that was only the beginning.
We decided he would direct the promotional video made from two songs off the album and he chose them. Giger is an industrial designer, which is very apparent to you the moment you step into his home. Even something as alien looking as his chairs is structurally sound.
The Alien creature with its McLuhanesque quality of being
the machine as an extension of the organic makes sense biologically. The face hugger, with its hair sacs, isn't just decorative. Giger's work has a
subcosncious effect: it engenders the fear of being turned into metal. It's
awesome the work of a tue perfectionist, a true obsessive.
For his work in our video he was as driven as he always is. He gathered
together the huge murals as backdrops, made a sarchophagus, special stencils, a headband, and exaggerated puncture needles, which were used for the album cover. Like the Phantom of the Opera looming over his organ all hours of the night, Giger was completely immersed in the two productions. From the moment we arrived he fired questions at us to work out concepts he had in mind. And compulsive man that he is, he was always superficial of himself, forever meticulous and careful to get what he wanted.
Just as we were exposed to Giger's world, we exposed him to a little bit of
ours when we went to England together after the taping. He seemed a little
bemused and caught off guard with all the fans and star treatment we
encountered. We kidded him a bit in our brash, curt, but not disrispectful
American way but he soon got used to it. He gave interviews and learned to
"enjoy". And as we found out later, we might even have helped to inspire his
next book, a series of paintings of New York. No other city inspires him as
much; no wonder, with the smoke coming out of the manholes, and all the other
images he loves.
|GIGER'S ALIEN 1979
Each cultural epoch in human history produces its unforgettable visionary artist a genius who is energized to voyage within; to trip through the galaxy of his own nervous system and return with vital information about the past and future of our evolution. Visionaries like Giger over stand too much. They over look. They over see. They over state. They over thrill. They physically frighten dutiful hive members who often become nauseous or screamingly panicked by this simple exposure to the tissue fact and cellular fabric of life. Artists like Giger are often censored, ignored, imprisoned, burned at the stake, kidnapped to Hollywood or, more often, carted off to asylums. Because they are the Aliens, the mutants. Higher intelligences, unidentified Flying Organism too different, too revealing to be tolerated. Giger's Alien, portrays the making of the monster film. It documents the shadowy birth of this mysterious squishy creature who has been terrorizing movie audiences all over the world. Giger's Alien is not an evil, scary creature. There is no evil in Giger. There is no evil in the poopy magnified cell growths within our bodies. The worst thing you can say about Giger's Alien is this: She eats to live. Is She ugly? No more ugly than we would look to any member of the food chain that we regularly and thoughtlessly pop in our red, gulping, adenoidal mouths three times a day. Giger's art has consistently wrestled with the paradox of The Beauty and the Beast. Thus he adds another chapter to the wondrous encyclopedia of mutants who represent those aspects of ourselves that we are not ready to wine and dine with.
|Click here for more Timothy Leary...|
|SCI-FI INVASION magazine
INVASION! Picks the Top 25 Coolest Aliens of All Time
1. THE ALIEN
"Alien" stands as the finest union of horror and sci-fi, thanks to this terrifying killer. It's murderous tone and unique biomechanical design, from the mind of H.R.Giger, has been mimicked in movies for the past 19 years.
|CINESCAPE PRESENTS MOVIE ALIENS
Special collector's Issue
Death of a Maiden by Edward Gross
Ridley Scott and Dan O'Bannon
"Dan O'Bannon came in with a copy of H.R. Giger's Necronomicon and said, "What do you think of this?" I nearly fell over", "Scott said. "I started leafing through it until I came to this one half-page painting and I just stopped and said, 'Good God, I don't believe it. That's it. I'd never been so certain about anything in my life. I thought we would be arguing for months about what the beast was going to be. Looking at the painting, I thought, 'If we can do that, that's it.' ''
The Swiss surrealist was hired to work on the film, and it was Scott's hope that the artist would be able to design an outfit that fit the body type of the man he'd chosen. Giger, answering to no muse but his own, equipped the man with pipes and tubes, as well as sores and joints and strange shapes. The end result was unprecedented - and Scott loved it. From there, the production's plaster shop took a full body-cast of the actor and mounted it standing up straight, on a wooden base. Giger had it placed in his studio and began to add clay, bones, screws, an air-conditioning duct, even a human skull.
"The face of this thing is a real human skull," O'Bannon, who witnessed the artist at work, told Fantastic Films magazine. "He took a human skull and jammed it right on the front, riveted it into place and then started modifying it. It was such a beautiful human skull. It had been a real person, not like one of those plastic model kits, and he takes out his hacksaw and he saws the jawbone off and extends it like six inches. He puts an extension on it, and creates this distorted jawbone. Then he starts attaching other fixtures to it and building a new extension on to the back of it. He's doing this to a real human skull. When he finally [finished], a cast was made of it. It was a craftsman who actually cast the rubber costume of Giger's sculpture. When they were finished casting in rubber, he used his airbrush and painted the costume the same way he does his paintings. I truly believe that that monster in Alien is absolutely unique looking. I think it is two strides beyond any monster costume in any movie ever before."
|From the same issue Super Monster! by James Van Hise:|
|Randy Stradley has always had a soft spot in his
heart for H.R. Gigers monstrous alien. "One of the great things about the
creature is that it lends itself to a lot of different artistic interpretations, and a lot
of different artists are able to get in there and work with it," says the senior
editor at Dark Horse Comics. "Theres something really compelling about
a silent, deadly creature that you cant reason with and you cant even make eye
contact with because it has ho eyes. It really is completely alien. It pushes that basic
That button, at least for Stradley and other Alien licensees, pops open a big cash register. Since 1988, Dark Horse has published two dozen Alien comic-book stories, raging from the one-shot Aliens: Earth Angels to the phenomenally popular 12-issue miniseries Alien vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species. Now , with the impending arrival of Alien Resurrection in theaters, the Alien comic releases have increased in pace until a total of 18 new comic-book series will see print before May 1998.
It was early in the comic series` development when Dark Horse realized what the filmmakers would discover five years later with Alien3 - that telling endless tales of Lt. Ripley battling aliens would be difficult to keep fresh and interesting. So the focus shifted from that of the movies.
For one thing, they could focus on the creatures themselves. "A lot of the credit for [ the Alien franchises success] goes to H.R. Gigers original design, says Stradley. "Its such an elegant, beautiful, creepy, horrible design, which has been ripped off numerous times, but nobody has done it as well as he, nor improved on it. Theres always that fear of the unknown in people. And Giger gave it a really good face."