Monday, September 28, 2015

'Tale of Tales' Is a Fine Reminder that Fairy Tales Haven't Always Been for Children

Tale of Tales, or Il racconto dei racconti in Italian, is a fantasy film composed of three interweaving stories based on “The Enchanted Doe” (La Cerva Fatata), “The Flea” (La Pulce), and “The Flayed Old Lady” (La Vecchia Scorticata), with creative liberties done, of course.  The source of these three tales is the Pentamerone, a collection of fairy tales – considered by scholars as the first of such – by 17th-century Neapolitan courtier Giambattista Basile.

Tale of Tales is a fairy tale in the traditional sense (not how Disney has revised it in the 20th century) – surreal and grim.  It’s not pleasant and fun at all.  But its dark, eccentric tone emits an alluring likability nonetheless.  The weirdness and grittiness, aided by lush production value and metaphorical depth, kept this film mesmerizing from start to finish of its 2-hour long run time.

Fairy tales haven’t always been for kids.  They are inherently unsettling.  I think this is so because fairy tales essentially have morals or philosophical insights in them, obscure these might be, and, at times, in order to deliver the message more emphatically, the macabre has to outweigh the beautiful.  Tale of Tales serves as a fine reminder and example.

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