A movie released in 2015 by Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone and starring among others Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and Toby Jones, it is a movie loosely based on the Tale of Tales by Giambattista Basile. It is a 17th century gothic/romantic fantasy featuring heart-eating, beheading, and face-cutting, so certainly not one for children.
The movie starts with the tale of childless Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) who would rather lose his husband to a sea monster than go without child, and after following a trick of witchcraft, both her and her virginal maid give birth to what seem like twins on the same night. The strong bond between the boys angers the Queen and her obsession to have her son to herself haunts them both.
The second story revolves around King of Strongcliff and his obsession with virginal women. A lothario you could say, who falls for a beautiful voice without knowing that such voice belongs to an old lady. The story then delves into the importance placed on youth and the special bond shared between sisters.
The third story, which for me, stroke me as the most powerful one, is about the young Princess Violet who gets married off to an Ogre by his foolish father who is more besotted with a giant flee (I did say this was a fantasy) than his own daughter. Her story, along with the other two, have a common theme of female determination and the dangers of obsession.
The backdrop to these stories are breathtaking, from octagonal palaces, to a cave amongst the clouds, it is this vivid and rich scenery (bloody reds, bright whites and emerald greens) that makes this movie a joy to watch. It has that fantasy realism which resembles Pan’s Labyrinth, so that the line between what is real and what is fantasy is simply lost. The camera angles also allow the viewer to be immersed in the movie; from viewing a sea monster though the glass of the wet-suit, to following Salma in her chase through a maze; the camera follow the characters in a way that makes you feel as if you are present in the moment.
My suggestion is that this movie needs to be watched in Bluray in the largest screen possible, in order to really appreciate this theatrical piece. An absolute masterpiece which has become a new favourite of mine.