Two pale boys born from a giant sea dragon; a young princess married off to an ogre by her weakling of a father; a filthy, conniving hag transformed into a gorgeous red haired maiden.
If those stories sound like something out of a Grimm book, you’re not that far off. The Grimm brothers based some of their stories on Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone, which was a collection of poems and short stories containing the basis of which would eventually become ubiquitous children’s tales. In the hands of director Matteo Garrone, Basile’s work becomes the basis for a fantastical and wonderful film adaptation, one which I’m sure I’ll still be thinking about four months from now.
Vibrant and disturbing in equal measure, Tale of Tales is the rare movie which provokes in me something that only cinema is capable of igniting. Indeed, from the first few minutes all the way to that beautiful and memorable ending, I felt alive. There was excitement emanating from the base of my belly, and as the picture progressed and flooded each scene with magic, the excitement spread to the rest of me, until I could not avert my eyes from the screen even if I wanted to.
Either because I have not watched many movies, or because I’ve been watching the wrong ones, this felt new to me. When it is revealed the king of Highhills (Toby Jones) has a pet flea that’s grown to the size of a wolf, I was amused, disgusted, and above all, entranced.
Whether that was the director’s intent, or whether the magic from the realm seeped out of the screen to get a hold of me, I do not know, but I would not mind feeling it again.