Liverpool, UK, has played host to some pretty big visitors in the past, but its guests this weekend were truly huge. Royal De Luxe's giant puppets roamed the city's streets, capturing imaginations and drawing huge crowds. It is the second time its Giant Spectacular has visited Liverpool.
Royal De Luxe is a French street theater company that was founded in 1979 by Jean-Luc Courcoult. It has created a host of different productions, but is perhaps best known for its giants, which debuted in 1993. The giants visit cities across the world and are used to tell stories on a grand scale, moving around the streets over a number of days.
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Giant Spectacular first came to Liverpool in 2012 as one of the events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Then, an uncle giant emerged from the city's Salthouse Dock having found a letter sent from his brother, who was on the doomed ship, to his niece. The little girl, accompanied by her dog Xolo, and the uncle wandered the city looking for each other, before meeting and sailing away down the River Mersey.
This year, the giants visited as part of 14-18 NOW, a cultural program of events taking place across the UK to mark the centenary of the First World War. For Memories of August 1914, a grandmother giant came in place of the uncle and told the story of the King’s Regiment, who fought in the Great War. Again, the giants wandered the streets, providing a number of surprises, before meeting with each other and sailing away.
The grandmother giant is 25 ft (7.4 m) tall and requires 26 operators and technicians to move her. She's created using silicon, as well as a host of mechanical parts. She has a walking stick and a wheelchair as accompanying props.
The little girl, meanwhile, is 18 ft (5.5 m) tall and weighs 800 kg (1,760 lb). She requires 22 operators to help her move at a speed of 2.5 mph (4 km/h). Amongst her features are hair and eyebrows made using horsehair, eyes made from streetlamps and eyelashes made from broomhair. Her dog, Xolo, is 9 ft (2.7 m) tall and weighs 200 kg (440 lb).
The operators for the giants are known as "Lilliputians", in reference to the small inhabitants of the island of Lilliput in Gulliver's Travels. To move the legs of the Giant Spectacular creations, they must climb up on a platform for each leg and swing down on a rope to pull the leg up before it sets back down in a meticulously coordinated effort.
In addition, operators control the movement of the giant's arms and their facial expressions. As a result, they can appear quite lifelike at times. Humorous touches, such as having Xolo wake up and lick the little girl's face or cock his leg to "water the grass," help to inject more entertainment into the storytelling process.
Some estimates suggest that a million people saw the giants over the course of the weekend, a figure that would make the event even more successful than the company's first visit in 2012.
Have a look at the videos below for a taste of the action, before visiting our gallery for more coverage.
Source: Royal De Luxe