Part Herzogian ecstatic ethnography, part Pasolinian picaresque, “The Tale of King Crab” finds directors Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis traveling from Italy to Argentina in a two-pronged folktale. The film, which has strands of ’70s arthouse in its DNA — including its immersive shot-on-film imagery — world-premiered at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in summer 2021 and enjoyed a solid run on the festival circuit, including at the New York Film Festival.
Now, Oscilloscope Laboratories will open the film April 15 in New York exclusively at Film at Lincoln Center, followed by a Los Angeles opening April 29. Exclusively on IndieWire, you can watch the trailer for the film below ahead of its stateside release.
The film centers on Luciano (Gabriele Silli), a meandering outcast in a far-off, late-19th-century Italian village. His life is marred by all manner of conflict, from the dangers of drink to forbidden love, as well as unrest with the prince of the region regarding passage through a certain ancient gateway. But when that conflict escalates, Luciano, in the film’s next chapter, finds himself exiled to a distant Argentine province called Tierra del Fuego, where he encounters gold miners who abet his search for mythical treasure. Is redemption on the horizon for Luciano?
From IndieWire’s review:
Cinematographer Simone D’Arcangelo (a digital imaging technician on several very recent Woody Allen films including “Rifkin’s Festival” and “A Rainy Day in New York”) captures the region almost as an alien landscape, abutted by craggy oceanside but also variegated with rocks that flash obsidian glimmer, and strange creatures that decorate the landscape.
That includes the brilliantly red king crab of the film’s title. This sagacious crustacean is literally the stuff of lore, as it’s said among locals that, when used as a compass, the crab can lead you to buried treasure in the water. In this section, Luciano impersonates a priest in his quest for mythic gold, his sole companions a group of shady sailors and the crab of the film’s title, kept in a wooden bucket filled with water. Further misadventures ensue that find Luciano, now four days starved, in a suspenseful shootout against the rocks that turns up a handful of mortally wounded souls.
Italian artist Gabriele Silli makes an impactful, mostly wordless screen debut as Luciano, whose pained eyes belie wells of sadness the movie never really plumbs beyond the surface. But whether drunkenly blinded by love or emaciated in search of buried treasure, he cuts a photogenic figure against the film’s celluloid-shot pastoral landscapes. Meanwhile, the costumes by “Martin Eden” designer Andrea Cavalletto suggest a deep reverence for period detail.