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The Tale of King Crab

1h 45m Experimental 2021

Winner of the Viennale FIPRESCI Prize, this quasi-documentary picaresque parable wrapped in a mythic western treasure hunt would make Werner Herzog and Pier Paolo Pasolini proud.

North-west of Rome lies the village of Vejano, where a group of hunters regularly gather to share folk tales and legends. Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis have visited these raconteurs before, in their documentaries Il solengo and Belva nera. Those same men return in The Tale of King Crab, which introduces us to Luciano, a vagabond aristocrat with too great a fondness for booze. Or is he a treasure-seeking pirate-priest? Both, it would appear. From Luciano’s rivalry with a prince for the affections of Emma, a goat herder’s daughter, to his exile to remote Argentina, where he assumes the identity of a dead priest, the directors’ fiction debut is an altogether different beast. And then there’s the mysterious red crab – a kind of living lodestone to a secret cache of buried gold.

As Luciano, first-time actor Gabriele Silli is magnetic, leading a cast of equally impressive non-professionals (only Maria Alexandra Lungu, as Emma, has acted before). Alternately fighting and forging through the Italian and Patagonian landscapes magnificently shot by Simone D’Arcangelo, Silli brings a mesmerising intensity to the screen. From its bucolic first half, which recalls the tableaux of Alice Rohrwacher (Futura, MIFF 2022; Happy as Lazzaro, MIFF 2018), to its western-inflected finale, The Tale of King Crab is a dream-like reverie, stitched together with a striking Greek chorus of a soundtrack.

“A wild and compelling work … Both innately human and boldly mythic.” –


Matteo Zoppis


Tommaso Bertani


Alessio Rigo de Righi


Matteo Zoppis


Simone D’Arcangelo


Italian, Spanish, with English subtitles


Italy, Argentina, France

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