Jack the Giant Killer – Something angry this way stomps

Director Bryan Singer’s latest film, Jack The Giant Killer is stomping its way towards our cinemas in June 2012. It stars Nicholas Hoult as Jack,  a humble farm lad, who comes into possession of some potent magic beans. Despite a Gremlins-style admonition to never let them get wet, that’s exactly what happens and soon a massive beanstalk has sprouted up, taking Jack’s home and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) with it. So Jack is forced to go on a mission to rescue her. Which would be difficult enough, but there are some giant problems lurking around and the kingdom in which Jack lives, and there has been in an uneasy peace with their giant neighbours, but this latest incident causes real trouble.

The film also stars Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Warwick Davis, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan Bremner and Eddie Marsan and the film itself is out on June 15 2012. I just hope Hollywood don’t turn it into a meaningless Special Effects extravaganza with loads of explosions at the expense of the story and characterization. Mind you Bryan Singer has done some great films so it should be in good hands.

There are also many legends concerning Giants and one such legend is of a Cornish giant named Cormoran, also recorded as Cormilan, Cormelian, Gormillan, or Gourmaillon, who was said to have lived in a cave on St Michael’s Mount and terrorized the people of Penwith (or, in some accounts, all of Cornwall). He is best known as the first giant killed by Jack in the fairy tale version of “Jack the Giant Killer”. In some accounts he is mistakenly identified as Blunderbore.According to Joseph Jacobs’ account, Cormoran was 5.5 m (18 ft) tall and measured about 2.75 m (9 ft) around the waist. The giant regularly raided the mainland, “feasting on poor souls…gentleman, lady, or child, or what on his hand he could lay,” and “making nothing of carrying half-a-dozen oxen on his back at a time; and as for…sheep and hogs, he would tie them around his waist like a bunch of tallow-dips.   The giant lived in a cave on St Michael’s Mount, and walked to the mainland during ebb tide. According to local legend, Cormoran and his wife Cormelian (whose name also appears as a variant of Cormoran) were responsible for the construction of St Michael’s Mount. Together they carried granite from the West Penwith Moors to the current location of St Michael’s Mount. When Cormoran fell asleep from exhaustion, his wife tried to sneak a greenschist slab from a shorter distance away. Cormoran awoke and kicked the stone out of her apron, where it fell to form the island of Chapel Rock.   Trecobben, the giant of Trencrom Hill (near St Ives), is said to have accidentally killed Cormelian while throwing a hammer over to St Michael’s Mount for Cormoran.

He and Cormoran buried Cormelian beneath Chapel Rock. According to Joseph Jacobs’ account, the councillors of Penzance convened during the winter to solve the issue of Cormoran’s raids on the mainland. After offering the giant’s treasure as reward for his disposal, a farmer’s boy named Jack took it upon himself to kill Cormoran. Older chapbooks make no reference to the council, and attribute Jack’s actions to a love for fantasy, chivalry, and adventure.   Either way, in the late evening Jack is said to have swum to the island and dug a 6.75 m (22 ft) trapping pit, although some local legends suggest he dug the pit to the north in Morvah. After completing the pit the following morning, Jack blew a horn to awaken the giant. Cormoran stormed out, threatening to broil Jack whole, but fell into the hidden pit, and after being taunted for some time, was killed by a blow from a pickaxe or mattock.   After filling in the hole, Jack retrieved the giant’s treasure. According to the Morvah tradition, a rock was placed over the grave. Today this rock is called Giant’s Grave. Local lore holds that the giant’s ghost can sometimes be heard beneath it.

The story of Cormoran may have its roots in another Cornish tale, that of Corineus and Gogmagog. Gogmagog was Another legendary giant (Also Known as Goemagot, Goemagog or Gogmagoc) who According to the 12th Century Historia Regum Britanniae (“The History of The Kings of Britain”) by Geoffrey of Monmouth, was an inhabitant of Albion, which was only inhabited “by a few giants”.

Then The Trojans led by Brutus and Corineus arrived and Corineus was given Cornwall to govern, where there were more giants than in any other province. Among these giants “was one detestable monster, named Goëmagot (Gogmagog), in stature twelve cubits, and of such prodigious strength that at one shake he pulled up an oak as if it had been a hazel wand”.   Then one night Whilst Brutus is holding a feast with his companions in Dartmouth  some twenty giants led by Goëmagot descend on the company “among whom he made a dreadful slaughter”. At last the giants were routed and slain except for Goëmagot who is captured so that Corineus can wrestle with him. The giant breaks three of Corineus’s ribs, which so enrages him that he “ran with him, as fast as the weight would allow him, to the next shore” and “getting upon the top of a high rock, hurled down the savage monster into the sea; where falling on the sides of craggy rocks, he was torn to pieces”. The place where he fell “is called Lam Goëmagot, that is, Goëmagot’s Leap, to this day