This is a special showing in that we are delighted to welcome, again, Sheryl Crown, an Executive Producer on the film, who will introduce it. Sheryl previously visited us in 2012 to introduce Searching for Sugarman, the documentary about the 70s singer, Rodriguez, who had vanished from sight but was rediscovered by South African fans.
This is a completely different film, fairy tales definitely not for the children. Matteo Garrone, who directed Gomorrah, the almost documentary film about the Mafia in Naples, has brought his realist sensibility to a sumptuously designed and beautifully realised weaving of three Italian fairy tales.
Once upon a time there were three neighboring kingdoms each with a magnificent castle, from which ruled kings and queens, princes and princesses. One king was a fornicating libertine, another captivated by an overgrown flea, while one of the queens was obsessed by her wish for a child. Sorcerers and fairies, fearsome monsters, ogres and old washerwomen, acrobats and courtesans are the protagonists of this loose interpretation of the celebrated tales of sevententh century Giambattista Basile, who inspired the Grimm brothers.
Despite the fabulism of Tale of Tales, it remains rooted in contemporary issues. Prince Charming does not figure much in this film, but women do. They are overwhelmed by motherhood, or obsessed with youth and beauty, or determined to attain independence and explore the world. These tales are retold from a perspective that makes them new again.
The casting is impeccable. For the main roles, Garrone has chosen actors whose striking physical features lend themselves remarkably well to fantasy. As the trio of Renaissance kings around whom these stories revolve, Vincent Cassel, John C. Reilly and Toby Jones make use of their extreme physiognomy to convey a subtle otherworldliness from the get-go. Their un-made-up appearance — a hooked nose here, a prominent forehead there, an unusually short stature — signal a sense of heightened oddness. Among the main cast members, only Salma Hayek, as Reilly’s queen, is conventionally beautiful. It’s her soul that is twisted.
The film has won numerous Italian awards for its production, costume, design and music.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall