Giger's Alien is a 1979 documentary directed by H. R. Giger and J. J. Wittmer and narrated by Wittmer that examines Giger's work on the 1979 film Alien. It consists largely of images of Giger's concept art and behind the scenes footage from the production, detailing the design work he contributed to the movie and the realisation of his ideas on set.
The documentary is divided into eight separate chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of Giger's work on Alien. Narration is provided by J. J. Wittmer, while the documentary includes a wealth of outtake footage from the production, much of which has never made available anywhere else.
The first chapter consists mainly of the conceptual artworks Giger created for the film, showing many of the pieces he drew up depicting the planetoid, the derelict and its pilot, as well as the ultimately unused Egg silo.
The second chapter shows the model shop at Bray Studios, where most of the miniatures used for filming were constructed, and details how the minitaures, especially those of the derelict, were constructed and detailed.
It includes an interview with model supervisor Peter Voysey.
The third chapter moves to Shepperton Studios, looking at the construction of the full-size sets, based on Giger's designs and the miniatures produced at Bray. After detailing the techniques used to realise such large sets, the documentary moves on to show behind the scenes footage and outtakes of filming taking place on the completed sets.
Cockpit and Spacejockey
The fourth chapter looks at the construction of the Pilot or "Space Jockey" model, and the effort required to position such a large model on the set at Shepperton. As with the previous chapter, the segment ends with behind the scenes footage of filming taking place on the Pilot set.
The fifth chapter looks at the design of the Eggs, including the alterations made to the original concept for their opening aperture, which was thought to too closely resemble a vagina and was changed to a cross-shaped opening as a result. Once again, the chapter concludes with behind the scenes footage of filming taking place, including the oft-mentioned moment where Ridley Scott uses his own hands to simulate life inside the Egg inspected by Kane.
The sixth chapter examines the Facehugger, including some of Giger's early, ultimately unrealised designs, the puppets created for filming, and the technical tricks used to bring the organism to life.
Includes an interview with director Ridley Scott.
The seventh and longest chapter looks at the final, adult form of the Alien, including Giger's concept paintings and the practical suits and animatronics used to realise the creature on screen. It features extensive behind the scenes footage of the various costume parts being manufactured by the effects crew, as well as the finished suit being used on set.
The End of the End
The final chapter shows the destruction of the sets after filming concluded, so that the stages could be cleared for the next production.
Giger's Alien was released on LaserDisc exclusively in Japan on March 21, 1987 — making it one of only two documentaries on the Alien franchise to ever receive a stand-alone home video release (the other being The Alien Saga). Since this release, it has never been collected in any subsequent DVD or Blu-ray box set, although it is available to watch on YouTube.
- The documentary shares its name with the book Giger's Alien, which was likewise produced by Giger himself and similarly studies his design work on the film. In fact, the book's cover art is the same piece used as the title screen in the documentary.