Tale Of Tales is a film from Matteo Garrone, who co-wrote the screenplay, based on 17th century Italian poet Giambattista Basile‘s The Pentamerone, which translates as “The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones”), yet, while on the one hand, some of the visuals are not what you’d want your children to see, on the other, children will have read and seen some of the most outlandish things in fantasy novels and movies, so for this film, that will technically make the – otherwise deserved – 15-certificate little more than a guideline.
And so, in not being familiar with those works, I had to take the film on face value, and found them akin to a series of Brothers Grimm-style fairy tales.
The Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) wants to have a child, but is told that she has to hunt down a sea monster – or rather get her hubby (John C Reilly) to do the donkey work, cut out its heart, and have it cooked by a virgin – who must be alone. When she eats the heart, she’ll instantly become pregnant. Er…. yeah.
Elsewhere, the King of Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel) fancies the voice of Dora (Hayley Carmichael), a woman who sounds young and beautiful, yet is really old and… well, far be it from me to age-shame. Meanwhile, King of Highhills (Toby Jones) manages to catch a dancing flea and nurtures it, seemingly paying more attention to that than his daughter, Violet (Bebe Cave),much to her disappointment, but that becomes the least of her problems.
Tale of Tales feels like a handful of parables based on envy, greed, avarice and so on. Overall, it looks amazing, but ultimately, it feels mostly nonsense, and so is difficult to get into thoroughly. However, I would still advise anyone to watch this and see it on the biggest screen possible.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, bringing us sumptuous visuals delivered on a pristine print with zero defects. Indulge in lush Italian landscapes and castles brought to life. Note that I’m watching this on a 50″ Panasonic Plasma TV, the film playing from a PS4.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1, and I couldn’t remember anything specific to split-surround effects, but the aural aspects are generally pleasing.
The extras begin with a trailer (2:11) and a series of Q&A interviews where the Q is a caption and the A is given by the person in question – the sort of thing that could easily be slotted into Breakfast TV clips, and while a lot of studios do this, it comes across as unnatural. These are with Matteo Garrone (17:59), Salma Hayek (9:00) and Toby Jones (12:56).
The main one is a ‘making of‘ (56:20), running almost an hour with no chapters (sigh), mixing in clips and on-set footage with chat from the cast and crew.
The menu features a small piece of the theme over a static shot of the cover, there are a bog standard 12 chapters and subtitles are in English.
Running time: 134 minutes
Released: Auguust 8th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English (and some Russian)
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Arri Alexa XT, Panavision Primo Lenses)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Matteo Garrone
Producers: Matteo Garrone, Anne Labadie, Jean Labadie and Jeremy Thomas
Screenplay: Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone and Massimo Gaudioso (Based on the book by Giambattista Basile)
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Queen of Longtrellis: Salma Hayek
King of Strongcliff: Vincent Cassel
King of Highhills: Toby Jones
King of Longtrellis: John C Reilly
Imma: Shirley Henderson
Dora: Hayley Carmichael
Violet: Bebe Cave
Fenizia: Jessie Cave
Young Dora: Stacy Martin
Elias: Christian Lees
Jonah: Jonah Lees
Jonah’s Mother: Laura Pizzirani
Necromancer: Franco Pistoni
Ogre: Guillaume Delaunay
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.