Monday, April 24, 2017

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Giant Hands

In cult-TV history, many great heroes have been grabbed and held by...giant hands. 

What does the symbol of a giant hand (or hands) mean? Well, typically when something is colossal in size, it represents some sort of insurmountable challenge.  And hands, of course, are used for grabbing, holding, and perhaps even restraining

So the giant hand trope probably involves our fear of being grabbed and held by something monstrous, or invincible.  When in the hand of a giant, we are helpless, at the whim of something that could mean us great harm.

Sometimes the giant hands that grab protagonists in cult-TV are gentle, and protective. Think about the Mighty Kong in The King Kong Show (1966), or Godzilla in the Hanna Barbera Godzilla cartoon (1978). Both of these over-sized beasts can unleash destruction, and yet they choose to (carefully) hold human beings in their over-sized hands.

Less friendly giant hands have appeared quite frequently however in TV history, however.  In The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) episode, "Stopover in a Quiet Town," for instance, a bickering couple finds itself in a toy town, victimized and "grabbed" by a giant child.  We see, mostly, that child's hand, reaching for them. The child is impulsive and dangerous, and the couple doesn't stand a chance.

In Star Trek (1966-1969), the U.S.S. Enterprise is stopped in space by a giant green space hand in the second season episode "Who Mourns for Adonais." In this case, the hand is made of energy, but belongs to the Greek God Apollo.

For some reason, viewers (or producers) are also fascinated with the idea of giant hands grabbing submarines at sea and shaking them.  The trope has appeared in both Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968) and SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996).

Finally, Irwin Allen's Land of the Giants (1968-1970) regularly featured stories in which giant hands darted into the frame, capturing and restraining the puny Earthlings.

1 comment:

  1. John,
    I've read (perhaps in Starlog) that Mark Hamill jokingly told George Lucas before Return of the Jedi that he'd like Luke to be grabbed by a giant hand, like in the B-movies of old. Lucas supposedly created the Sarlac monster specifically to give Hamill his wish. I looked for this interview online so I could quote it, but was unable to find you'll just have to take my word for it! ;)