Italy, UK, France


From the bitter quest of the Queen of Longtrellis who forfeits the life of her husband, to two mysterious sisters who provoke the passion of the King of Strongcliff, to the King of Highhills obsessed with a giant Flea leading to heartbreak for his young daughter, these stories weave the beautiful with the grotesque, creating a stunning and unique work of gothic imagination.
Inspired by the celebrated fairytales by Giambattista Basile.

Director's Statement

I chose to tackle the universe of Basile because in his tales, I found that blend between the real and fantastic which has always characterised my artistic endeavours.

The stories recounted in THE TALE OF TALES cover all of life’s opposites: the ordinary and the extraordinary, the magical and the everyday, the regal and the obscene, the straightforward and the artificial, the sublime and the filthy, the terrible and the tender, scraps of mythology and torrents of popular wisdom. The tales recount human feelings pushed to the extreme.

From the first reading of the 50 tales which make up the book, myself and my fellow screenwriters faced numerous choices in choosing the stories that we liked most and then making them credible, concrete, as if we were seeing them take place before our eyes. Our approach was to search for something powerful, physical, shared and authentic, even in the stories in which the imagination was the most fired-up. In Basile’s work, there’s a great pleasure in the narrative, and that should also be a prerogative of cinema.
My previous films have been based on true stories, which I transformed to the limits of an almost fantasy dimension. Here, we did the journey in the opposite direction. We were inspired by fabulous situations that were brought on to a realistic basis through a process of subtraction, so the spectator can at each moment feel involved in the story, and become immersed in the adventures of our characters.

I would define THE TALE OF TALES as a fantasy book with some touches of horror. In an indirect yet palpable way, these two genres – fantasy and horror –
come through and can already be felt in my previous work: in THE EMBALMER and in FIRST LOVE, the horror notes can already be clearly heard; in REALITY, the fairy tale mood inspires the stories as much as the style; and even in GOMORRAH, beyond the realism of the situations, the tone of some episodes is that of a genuine dark fable. When you think about it, THE EMBALMER – which also has some grotesque and poignant aspects – actually resemble one of Basile’s tales: “Once upon a time there was a dwarf who stuffed big animals and who fell in love with a beautiful young man.”

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Matteo Garrone

Written by: Matteo Garrone, Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, Massimo Gaudioso

Produced by: Jeremy Thomas, Matteo Garrone

Cinematography: Peter Suschitzky

Editing: Marco Spoletini

Production Design: Dimitri Capuani

Costume Design: Massimo Cantini Parrini

Original Score: Alexandre Desplat

Sound Design: Leslie Shatz

Cast: Salma Hayek (Queen of Longtrellis), Vincent Cassel (King of Strongcliff), Toby Jones (King of Highhills), John C. Reilly (King of Longtrellis), Shirley Henderson (Imma), Hayley Carmichael (Dora), Stacy Martin (young Dora), Bebe Cave (Violet), Christian Lees (Elias), Jonah Lees (Jonah)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2015