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The Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti)
Drawn from the works of Giambattista Basile, who inspired the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen to pen their fairy tales, Matteo Garrone's fantasy horror entwines three blood-soaked stories of deceit and revenge. The King and Queen of Longtrellis (John C Reilly, Salma Hayek) yearn for a child and heir, but their efforts to start a family prove unsuccessful. A sorcerer (Franco Pistoni) provides the King with a solution: if the Queen eats the heart of an aquatic dragon cooked by a virgin, she will fall pregnant. Heeding this advice, the King sets out to slay the dragon in order to provide his wife with her heart's desire. Next, the King of Highhills (Toby Jones) takes a flea as a pet, hiding the creature in the royal chamber where it grows to a grotesque size. When the flea eventually dies, the monarch is distraught and retains the insects' oversized skin as a memento. In the flea's honour, the king promises the hand of his daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) to any man or beast that can get guess where the giant skin came from and a hideous ogre (Guillaume Delaunay) steps forth with the answer. The King of Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel) is intoxicated by the singing voice of a mysterious woman and he vows to seduce the songbird. The chanteuse, Dora (Hayley Carmichael), is an old woman and she eventually agrees to the King's request to sleep with her on the proviso that it must take place in complete darkness so he cannot see her wrinkled appearance and know her true age. Alas, curiosity gets the better of the lusty monarch and he dares to light a candle during their assignation.