Film Review: The Tale of King Crab

Luciano and his crab navigator

For hundreds if not thousands of years, stories were handed down through generations by word of mouth. Either through storytelling or in song. Folklore, legends and folk tales played a large part in European societies for a long time, before the written word became dominant. Even then, only a small minority could read or write, so it was still vital. As these stories are passed down, they inevitably change and are embellished. The Tale of King Crab is a patchwork story reflecting the experiences of Italian immigrants.

Son of the local priest, Luciano (Gabriele Silli) is an outsider. Notorious in the local village for his drinking and general belligerence, when the prince (Enzo Cucchi) blocks a historical access path he decides to take matters into his own hands. Meanwhile, he falls in love with the strong-willed young daughter (Maria Alexandra Lungu) of a Shepherd (Severino Sperandio). When everything comes crashing down around him, Luciano finds himself exiled and stranded in Tierra del Fuego searching for a mythical treasure.

The Tale of King Crab celebrates rich folk traditions by weaving our unlikely hero’s story into modern storytelling. Using an almost solely non-professional cast, Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis’ film uses magical realism and elements of docu-drama to create an almost poetical allegory. This works both in its favour and against it, depending on your tolerance for taking liberties. Nevertheless, The Tale of King Crab is a gorgeous period parable with a distinct sense of time and place.

The Tale of King Crab opens in US cinemas on 15 April.

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