Written by Drone Saturday, 28 October 2006 22:37
Release Date: 1979
Directors: H.R. Giger, J.J. Wittmer & Mia Bonzanigo
Movie Rating: PG
Runtime: 34 Minutes
Country: Switzerland & United Kingdom
Price: $11.99 USD (includes Giger’s Necronomicon)
Format: DVD, full-screen (4:3)
Giger’s Alien is an extension to the Alien Quadrilogy’s Disc 2 and to Disc 9’s Alien Evolution. In this film, we are introduced to the production of Alien from H.R. Giger’s perspective. Giger’s Alien is also a book created by H.R. Giger after he finished his work on Alien. The book showcases all of the concept work Giger created during the pre-production stage of Alien. Giger’s Alien was filmed during the pre-production/production stages of Alien and seems as though it was intended for documentary purposes. The film also contains scenes of film crews filming Alien. Giger’s Alien was broadcasted in Japan only and never made its way out of Asia.
I will begin this review by discussing the most important feature of the film, the content. The film starts off with a clip of a film crew filming the part where Dallas, Kane, and Lambert are venturing inside the Derelict ship. The scene then switches to the film crew filming segments where the alien is involved. We then have an H.R. Giger artwork session accompanied by a voiceover explaining the artwork we are seeing and describing to us what exactly the term “Biomechanical” means. We also learn what Fox and Ridley Scott wanted Giger to make for the film. The documentary then takes a look at how young Giger’s props were created, specifically the Derelict ship. We have a look inside Shepperton Studios (where Alien was filmed) and see how the models were laid out in the studio and how they were utilized by the cameras/crew. We see various constructions of scenery used in Alien as well as various environments including the Space Jockey’s cockpit and the “Egg Silo”. All of these scenes are accompanied by a voiceover and Giger’s concept work so we can see how his drawings were brought to life. One of my favourite parts during this segment of the film was the part where we see Scott making the fluttering motion with his hands while under the alien egg. The film switches the mood from a behind-the-scenes look to an interview with a young Ridley Scott and his opinion on Giger’s work and the alien itself. The film continues on with an in-depth look at the alien’s physiology and how its body works from its concept format all the way to the final copy of the suit that was used in the film. We then see various scenes of film crews filming the alien. The film ends off with all of the sets being destroyed and thrown into dumpsters along with Giger’s saddening reaction to all of this. Now, I do not want everyone to be confused here so let me explain this clearly. Some of the footage in this film was used in Alien Quadrilogy’s Disc 2 and Disc 9. I know the Small Screen says otherwise but the page has probably not been updated in a long time. Anyways, who are you going to trust? An online store or a hardcore Alien fan? Thought so. Lastly, since this film is extremely rare, the copy that I saw contained Japanese subtitles that would appear every time there was a voiceover in progress. They are not really noticeable and do not affect viewing quality.
The next part of the review will be examining the visual aspect of the film. The film was obviously filmed with a low-tech camera by today’s standards. Although this would normally excuse the film for its low quality, there was another issue that also bothered me. When I initially saw the film on a widescreen television I never noticed it until I saw it on my PC for the second time. I noticed that the bottom of the picture had a blurry line through it that made it obvious that this portion of the DVD was definitely a transfer from VHS. This gave the film a big negative on its visual aspect because it looked sloppy and old. In this film we did not see much artwork as compared to Giger’s Necronomicon and instead we saw real footage of Giger’s work coming to life. I was greatly intrigued by the detail and effort put into each individual piece of prop and scenery. The work put into Alien was immense and it was sad to see it all destroyed at the end. This film was less of an art show and more like a traditional documentary in the sense that it documented the development of Alien from Giger’s perspective along with footage to back it up.
The next part of the review will examine the audio aspect of the film. The soundtrack was recorded in Stereo and considering that the film is a documentary, Stereo suits its needs. The soundtrack of the film was a mix of music from Alien’s soundtrack and Giger’s own synthesizer addition that was used in Giger’s Necronomicon. The soundtrack was standard for a documentary and I even found the synthesizer to get repetitive and at times, annoying. It is obvious that this documentary was rushed during post-production. To compliment the film was the narration from a male British voice that I have never heard before. The narration is told from Giger’s perspective but is definitely not Giger since Giger cannot speak English. The audio for this film was standard for a documentary.
In conclusion, this documentary is a nice addition to the hardcore Alien fan’s DVD collection. It features some good insight and additional information on how Alien was created. I enjoyed seeing the production of Alien from Giger’s perspective rather than from Fox’s supposed “unbiased” perspective. This documentary was obviously rushed near the end but is good none the less. Although this documentary is not as good as Giger’s Necronomicon, it is still worthy of several viewings. If you are interested in purchasing this film, please feel free to check it out at The Small Screen.
Content: There is quite a bit of interesting content in the film. I especially enjoyed seeing the production of Alien from H.R. Giger’s perspective. Although there is not much additional footage not featured in Alien Quadrilogy, the rest of the content makes up for it. 8/10.
Visuals: The visuals are generally standard for a documentary and there is some nice footage shot but the quality of the film is substandard at times. The video is not only grainy, but has blurry lines which makes it obvious that the film was transferred from an old VHS cassette. 7/10.
Audio: The audio was standard for a documentary and contained a combination of Giger’s synthesizers and music from the Alien soundtrack. The synthesizers became repetitive after a while and started to become annoying. 7/10.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10.
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