Monday, January 31, 2011

Hans Rudolf Giger

Illustration isn't just print. Not anymore, not for a good long while now. Personally, this illustrator got on with the program to make concept art for games. Sue me.

Anyway, pre-production art for film, television, animation, and, yes, games is a huge field and a lot of really talented illustrators are pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into it. H.R. Giger isn’t really and illustrator, but he did dip his toes in that particular pool in late seventies when Alejandro Jodorowsky was supposed to be making a DUNE movie (based on Frank Herbert’s masterpiece) and invited Giger to work on set, costume, and prop designs, giving him complete creative freedom. What a gig.

Eventually the project burned up in the development hell and it was probably for the best, since the universe would probably implode from such a heavy concentration of crazy awesome (did I mention that Pink Floyd were supposed to create the soundtrack and Salvador fucking Dali was at one point cast as the Emperor?). Several of Giger’s designs for the film did survive though, and, man, do the look good…

It bothered me for a long time that Giger’s work, while beautiful and appropriately atmospheric, didn’t really mesh too well with Frank Herbert’s books, but then I read Giger’s own memories of the project and found out that Jodorowsky took grave liberties with the source material anyway, so maybe H.R.’s images worked better with the script than it did with the book... The thing of it is: while any film would benefit greatly from a distinctive and consistent visual style, and Giger certainly is distinctive and consistent, art in a film, or TV show, or game, cannot exist for its own sake – it is there to carry the story/gameplay, and I am not sure that calling a mad genius like Giger and essentially telling him “go nuts” is a very good idea for the director. The end result would, at best, be a beautiful mess. Like the DUNE movie that did come out eventually. Ugh. I wish I haven't remembered that...


  1. Giger makes crazy stuff! His bars are pretty wicked, if you ever have a chance to go to one GO!, and of course his paintings with crazy babies are creepy.

  2. Love the dark illustrations for the Dune books. With titles like God Emperor and Children of Dune and Dune Messiah you'd like there would be more lightness given the god, messiah child aspects of the titles.

  3. It's too bad Dune didn't get produced with his designs! Back then, everything had to be hand made for movies, it would have been a lot of work!