I was on an overnight flight when I first read I Kill Giants, a young adult graphic novel written by Joe Kelly and drawn by J.M. Ken Niimura, and while a long flight can bring out high levels of emotion, you don’t expect one of those emotions to be a surprising relief at being made suddenly, overwhelmingly sad. I Kill Giants moves at one thousand miles an hour even as its heroine remains stuck at a perfect standstill. It deals with maturation, self-image, grief, fantasy, and imagination all wrapped up in a tremendous bundle that seems far too large for a child to deal with but is nevertheless realistic. It’s also intensely visual, and I’m happy to see that it’s finally being brought to the big screen by Christopher Colombus and Treehouse Pictures.
The descriptive copy on the book itself is coy, describing a story about an adolescent girl who escapes into imagination in order to combat a reality where she feels powerless. It’s a status that I think a lot of us can relate with, and while the main character Barbara certainly has a crop of bullies targeting her at school, her troubles extend far, far beyond that. While there’s no twist in the story itself, I’m attempting not to give too much away about the details. Experiencing Barbara’s story fresh is an important part of its impact.
Despite the power and movement (and even color despite its monotone) of its visuals, I Kill Giants is a sobering tale, and the producers have chosen Anders Walter to direct based on the strength of his Academy Award-winning short film Helium, a story of a young boy who also escapes into imagination in order to combat a reality where he is powerless.
You can watch the short film here:
Considering the creative output of those involved, it seems as if I Kill Giants has an excellent shot at being realized on the big screen with its potency intact. Walters has an implicit understanding of the balance between the beauty wrought by imagination and the rigid control of reality. And although producer Christopher Colombus could be accused of being too pat and simple (in the first two Harry Potter films, for instance), he should be quite effective at infusing the I Kill Giants movie with the expanded scope and visual that it deserves.
Then probably I’ll end up watching the movie for the first time on an overnight flight. Because sometimes life just gives you the dumbest thematic parallels. But hopefully I’ll feel just as sad and just as relieved as I did when reading the book for the first time. That relief is important, you see. It’s a promise that you can feel sad about the tragedies in your life without feeling guilty about enjoying the beauty of life afterwards. It even demands to know…why aren’t you fighting for that beauty?