"The Drowned Giant"

Updated: Sep 3

I imagine that if I lived in a coastal town, there would be days when something of significance would wash up on shore. Something that would draw in quite the crowd. Maybe it would be something sad like a whale struggling to survive. Perhaps it would be something exciting like a sunken Spanish galleon. The possibilities are endless!


But what if it were a giant?

 

"The Drowned Giant"

Love Death + Robots: Season 2, Episode 8

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"The Drowned Giant" is a story told through the eyes of a scientist who chronicles the washed-up body of a giant human. He estimates that the body is that of a young adult from an unknown place. More so, he chronicles human nature as this phenomenon is treated like a circus freak show attraction. After confirming this giant is indeed dead, the beachgoers proceed to explore the body, climbing all over it and investigating. As their curiosity turns, they first treat the body like an amusement park ride, climbing up and sliding down the massive body.


As time passes, the body begins to decompose. As it decomposes, the people that visit it on the beach begin to treat it like the deterioration of inner cities. It becomes a hangout for the more despondent of the population as they mark the body with graffiti. After a while, like with old, ruined buildings, the local authorities authorize the dismantling and removal of the body. It's done in a cold, methodical, unfeeling manner that is documented and mused by the scientist, who gives what I feel is a brilliant narration of the entire process while musing on the implications of human society.


In the end, much like the rise, decay, and fall of societies and we humans ourselves, the drowned giant is no longer remembered in his full glory but rather the sum of his parts that are now scattered across the area. The vertebrae and ribs remain on the beach. Ballard's Butcher Co. has a part of the femur on display as part of the shop's sign. The skull, partially sunken, is next to a farmhouse. Most disturbing of all, the body's penis is a carnival attraction comparable to the display of Rasputin's penis in the St. Petersburg museum.


We are left to ponder, along with the scientist, what this all means. "The Drowned Giant" is many things: It is The Odyssey and Gulliver's Travels. It is a commentary on how we sensationalize events and draw entertainment from them. It talks about how we are superficial creatures that exploit our environment. It speaks to how we deal with societal decay. It shows us the life cycle in which we are part of nature before returning to it. There are many ideas that come from this story, so like the scientist, we can only muse on "The Drowned Giant."


Warp 6 on the SciFi drive!

 

The Story Behind "The Drowned Giant"

"The Drowned Giant" by J.G. Ballard



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