A fable-like legend, a legendary fable. The Tale of King Crab by Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis plays in the selection of the Quinzaine des Realizateurs at the Cannes Film Festival. An Italo-Argentinian-French coproduction, the film is produced by Ring Film and Rai Cinema, and will be released by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà.

Italy, nowadays. Some elderly hunters reminisce about the tale of Luciano together. Late 19th century, Luciano lives as a wandering drunkard in the Tuscian countryside. His lifestyle and constant opposition to the despotic local prince have turned him into an outcast for the community. In an ultimate vengeful move to protect the woman he loves, Luciano commits the unforgivable. Now an unfortunate criminal, he is exiled to Tierra del Fuego.There, with the help of ruthless gold diggers, he seeks a mythical treasure, paving his way towards redemption. Yet, little but greed and madness can grow on these barren lands.

One could say that your workshop for cinematic ideas is a hunting lodge in the Tuscia region. The concept for your Black Beast comes from there, and the same goes for Il solengo and now your latest The Tale of King Crab. What’s the magic of the legends that you collect in this place?

Inside this hunting lodge, while people eat, you can her tales and these tales are precious. We got to that place by chance and exactly like in a saloon of western movie, incredible characters are coming and going, with their equally incredible stories. That’s how our first film was born, then the second, then the third. Their stories don’t contain many details and that’s how the cinematic fiction naturally evolves: you start fantasizing and then you write.

The concept of “legend” also belongs to the world of western movies, which are clearly among your sources of inspiration. Which genre elements did you specifically worked on, and which are your references?

The idea was to make a western movie with a long prologue, as if it was the “before” – that which in the classic westerns is told through the flashbacks – and then let the film explode in a long journey. We wanted to make a sea western, pirate-style. At the landing point, there are also a lot of mountains, so the story is also a journey of redemption as the mountains bring you to the highest point, closer to the light…

And as in the western movies, you opted for a peculiar use of the music and the sounds. What’s the function of the score?

We are not very interested in a musical score to underline the emotions. It must rather work as a counterpoint, something that could create ambiguities within the narration or trigger questions, while in other instances it has a purely narrative function. During the research phase we noticed that some popular songs were changing lyrics from place to place, and some of these sounded exactly like our story. We worked on this aspect, also thanks to the great job of musician Vittorio Giampietro who, besides composing the original tracks, re-registered the traditional songs, too.

The film tells an epic journey towards the Tierra del Fuego, an aspect which is not very much detailed in the oral legends. How did you work on the archival research, what is real and what is fantasy?

The film is very fictionalized and imaginative. One true element is Luciano, a country man who committed something, not clearly detailed, and who was exiled for that. We added cinema to the story as well as literature, popular tales, magic, and stories from Italian migrants and adventurers in the Tierra del Fuego.

Luciano is played by Gabriele Silli, not an actor but an artist, and you stated that you shaped the character like a sculpture. What does it mean exactly?

Gabriele worked a lot with us and we shaped the character over the years. The role changed his body too: he transformed both physically and temperamentally. Gabriele is a plastic artist, and a sculptor too. He self-sculpted himself.