Broken does not mean I cannot see beauty. Shattered does not mean blindness. I Kill Giants is a hell of a movie. You should watch it. It is a lie, but a necessary one, I suppose. If you come away feeling it is a movie for kids… you have my sympathy.
Great right up until the end. But of course the Giant is lying when it says to Barbara: “You will be okay.” How do I know its a lie? Well, to state the completely obvious, Barbara is going to die too. Along with her sister, brother, friends, and everyone else. The lie is necessary to keep us all roaming about doing mostly meaningless stuff, rather than spending time contemplating what a life should mean in the context of it’s inevitable end.
A Monster Calls
Lots of people complain that I Kill Giants is a copy of this earlier movie. I would agree the theme is similar, a child dealing with the loss of a parent to illness, but really the movies are worlds apart, and I Kill Giants is superior.
In A Monster Calls the audience is treated like cattle. The creators figure their audience is as stupid as cows, so they put rings in their noses and lead them around the movie, carefully pointing out what is going on and why, and what they’re supposed to think and feel as they go along. Some people need this in their movies. If they don’t get it, they often get cross.
In the end the movie does not hold up, as it is literally dripping with impossibilities and nonsense. For example, if the monster is in Conor’s head, I have to say wow, that kid is a freaking genius. Where does a 12 year old come up with such powerful and complex ideas about the meaning of life and death, and our place in the world? (the answer is, of course, 12-year olds don’t, but adult script writers do). And in the end, we discover the monster was telling stories from Conor’s mother’s art book, which Conor has never seen. Ooops, there goes the reality factor. Seems a bunch of magic or something has been going on somewhere in the background. Too bad none of that magic could be used to save mom. After all, if reality isn’t reality, I’d much rather have my mother back than know the monster who was teaching me might have been real, met with my mother when she was a kid, and passed on her stories to me for some reason. I’d be pretty pissed if I knew this monster could warp reality, but instead of saving my mom from cancer it decided to tell me stories of dubious value.
And the fucking violins. By the end of the movie I was ready to shove a bow up someone’s ass.
In I Kill Giants there is none of this. Reality rules from start to finish. The magical events are entirely in the mind of a 12 year old girl who will not or cannot accept the inevitable death of her mother to disease. You are not led around by a ring in your nose and told what to think and what to feel from minute to minute. It is instead confusing and difficult to figure out what is going on, much like life (see what they did there? It’s called “art”). Like a 12 year old escaping into fantasy, we are not sure how much of this magical world exists. This is especially true when Barbara’s friend comes upstairs with a glass of water and sees the cause of it all, dropping her glass and making for one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, as Barbara, so out of sorts by what that space represents, literally walks barefoot through broken glass to shut the terrible room’s door and protect herself from what’s inside.
The giant, Titan, acknowledges the truth Barbara finally figures out for herself. There will be no salvation for her mother. The giant did not come for her mother, but instead has come for her. And like so many monsters, the death and destruction it represents is metaphorical, as a 12 year old mind is finally able to grasp the truth.
Of course, the old fiction is repeated at the end of both movies: everything will be alright. This is fluff for a vulnerable audience. This fiction is needed so we will get up tomorrow and live our mostly pointless lives, pretending words like growth and capitalism aren’t monsters emerging from the sea to destroy us.