“Tale of Tales” is a film written and directed by Matteo Garrone, freely taken from the collection of three of the fairy tales “Pentamerone” by the Neapolitan Giambattista Basile.
Tale of Tales is a collection of 50 short stories written in the 1600’s that the Italian critic Benedetto Croce defined as “the oldest, the richest and the most artistic of all books of folk tales”. The tales are full of symbols and inspired the Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault.
The story begins with a proverb “Who seeks what one should not seek, finds one that does not want to find”. Many of the characters involved in each of the three stories are marked by the same fate, and not always with a happy ending. A modern mirror that comes from a past world, where dynamics and problems may be still be educational and a warning for us. The history of human problems never changes, what changes are just the actors who play and have to solve those problems.
The beginning of the story seems to be the modern translation of a warning that reads, “Be careful what you wish for because you might get it”. So you can really get rich, and consequently end up with all the problems of the rich. You can get to marry the man you desired so much, and eventually end up with a husband who ruined your existence. As you can get to get the job for which you have fought so much, and then find yourself a slave of something that you no longer have the courage to leave.
As in the great so in the small
All stories obey the principle of correspondence or analogy of one of the seven cosmic laws of Hermes Trismegistus (founder of Hermeticism). What happens in the first story is repeated in the form of the whole work. Like a fractal each story is repeated in its form and in the same way in the other 49, but on different scales, and always generating different types of suspense.
And now to talk about the three stories chosen by the director. “The Queen”, is the story of a Queen pervaded by the desire for motherhood at any cost. “The Flea”, is a modern transposition of the male violence against women. And finally, “The Two Old Women” with its obsession for eternal youth. Here I will tell only the first of these three wonderful tales.
The Queen: the desire for motherhood at any cost
There was once a queen who had long sought to have a child, but could not because of her sterility. One day she called before her a necromancer (a necromancer is a magician who deal with the dead) who advised the king and queen of a magical remedy to have a baby – the queen will have to eat the heart of a sea dragon that will be cooked by a virgin. Through this way she will be able to get pregnant. The dialogue between the queen and the necromancer is reminiscent of a contract with the devil.
Necromancer: “Every new life requires the loss of a life, the balance of the world must be maintained. Are you willing to accept this risk? “
Queen: “I am ready to die to feel life growing inside me”. So the king, as commanded by the necromancer, is thrown into the deep waters of the lake and effectively kills the dragon. During the fight the monster deals a fatal backlash to the sovereign, who dies after emerging.
And today? Today women live until the same sterility date caused by the evil spell to “have to wait”. Wait for graduation, then wait for a good place to work and finally wait for the right man with whom to conceive a child. And in the meantime the hands of the biological clock run down, and every second the possibility of having a child gets less and less. These modern queens have managed to become sovereign of their own freedom and independence but no longer have the possibility of becoming creators of life.
What can a woman sacrifice in order to have a child? Much. In trying to reach the magic number of three, thanks to the necromancer in a white coat, you can lose the second, the partner. Just as the queen lost her King, even today many women in the pact with the devil lose their partner, sometimes too fragile and helpless to fight a problem as big as a dragon.