Starting the Alien

leading from
Creating the Alien 

HR Giger (source NME, September 15th, 1979)

Information still being collated
a) Giger's objectives
For Giger, sculpting was something much more difficult than painting because it has to look good from every angle rather than being seen from one view on a piece of paper and it would be even more difficult if the object had to movie. His own style of painting was a combination of art and technical stuff, his Biomechanics, a kind of surrealist mixture of biology and technology and he wanted his alien to have these qualities.

b) Pursuit of elegance and beauty
But Giger and Scott had an interest in creating a creature that was elegant and beautiful. It also depended on the way that the creature was represented, the way it acted and the dramatic element Giger had to give him something that could be used in many different ways. For a while they were exploring the use of body contortionists (See: Circus Performers) They had gone away from the idea of the creature from Necronom VI and now had returned to it along with the similar but eyeless creature from Necronom V.

c)  Like a complicated toy with moveable parts
Ridley talked with Giger about having something with moveable parts as if it were a complicated toy rather than have something that was plainly rigid, Ridley would say to Giger "I need it so that I can play with it." One had to be able to somehow shift it,  twist it, and have lots of possibilities, as many possibilities as possible.  So there was as much action and movement possible in the creature's form.
And the need for simplicity always led back to the human form. The greatest horror for every film director and producer dealing with this subject matter was to have a monster than turns out to be ridiculous to the extent that people right from the beginning were thinking "oh! a person in a rubber suit, you know." So it was very difficult to work something out, but Scott had enormous talent for representing relatively simple things in a relatively intense way.

d) Facial expression
So the idea of the tongue with teeth idea that resulted in making double dentures with double rows of teeth that could be moved in such a way.  So for the  creature's expression to change, Ridley show Giger how to make very simple additions such as latex pieces from contraceptives to make lips and tendons, showing the two sets of teeth as Giger had drawn it,  and Ridley was saying to him, "you really have to do it like that"

HR Giger at work on an alien in 1978 in Shepperton Studios near London.
(Photo: Edition Patrick Frey) (Source: http://blog.dasmagazin.ch)
Source quotes:
  1. HR Giger: and he (Ridley), not unlike myself, actually had in mind to create a creature which could in fact also be beautiful;  that is to say, elegant or, or aesthetic.  I mean, for example, it isn’t, every monster doesn’t always have to kind of … I don’t know … it can, it can also be a a beautiful, a monster can sometimes be beautiful.  It depends on the way in which it is represented, that is to say how it acts.  Well and the dramatic element, that is added later, I just have to give him something that can be used in as many ways as possible, that is to say Scott always wanted every object which was designed for him. he wanted to be able to, to play any kind of game with it, he wanted there to be movable parts, anything, the thing he hated most was having something that turned out to be rigid.  One had to be able to somehow shift it, or  twist it, or simply , lots of possibilities, as many possibilities as possible.  That was the reason he worked out, for instance, with the teeth inside, the tongue, too, I mean that one could make double dentures with double rows of teeth, and that one could move it in such and such a way;  in other words, he wanted  as much action as possible.  And at the same time he also realised that it would probably be best to use a something simple, and then one is always led back to the human being.  And the human being, I know that’s something else again, but everyone’s greatest horror, the greatest horror of any director and horror film producer is, that the monster turns out to be ridiculous.  And that it’s obvious from the very beginning "oh! a person in a rubber suit, you know"'.  That’s something embarrassing or ridiculous, or pretty obvious and it is very difficult to make something where you don’t somehow suspect that there’s a person inside;  of course nowadays it is much much easier than before, when everything somehow had to have a person as a motor or a drive thingy.  Nowadays you can have a really crazy thing via computer, something that can move, but that possibility didn’t exist then, and so it was very difficult to work something out, and Scott had enormous talent for representing relatively simple things in a relatively intense way.  By using lighting, using surfaces, for example when he, he used a lot of these glistening surfaces, kind of slime and and steam and water that runs down in great drops and so on, and all his backdrops for the action are always full of steam, well almost opaque; and magical somehow;  and yet simple;  that is (Report from interview for Alien Evolution)
  2. HR Giger: Ridley always said "I have to...I have to play with that, I need that I can play with this still..."  several things , I mean, like erm, the expression. He showed me first time how you do, make it very simple things with with er latex pieces from contraceptives making lips or or er and whatever, changing expression, showing two teeth like you have drawn it , like you have drawn it so, I had it drawn already, but he said, "you really have to do it like that." (Alien Legacy) 
  3. HR Giger: Then we came back to the designs without eyes from Necronom V and Necronom IV, which have some type of protruding pipes behind it, so it was a combination of those two paintings. Then Ridley Scott wanted a tail because it odds movement. I had drawn the Alien with two rows of teeth and Scott asked me if I could actually build it. Up to this time the only creature we had was somebody in a rubber suit. We made a cast in plasticine with a live model and added pipes and tubes from cars. We made a mold and I worked on the chest first, and then on the upper torso.  (FX, 7, 1999 (spanish magazine)) 
  4. HR Giger : Sculpting something is much more difficult than painting because it has to look good from every angle. It's even more difficult if the object has to move. My style of painting is a combination of art and technical stuff. I call it biomechanics - kind of a surrealist mixture of biology and technology - and I wanted the alien to have those same qualities. So i started out with kind of statue of Bolaji, and directly over that I modeled the shape of the alien in plasticine, with bones and tubes and lots of mechanical things. The head I built up from a real human skull using plasticine and flexible piping and stuff. (Cinefex 1, p47)

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