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Gomorrah

   
 

Heaven or Hell in the Mezzogiorno? 

   

 

  

 

The Camorra is a mafia-like organization that operates in the region of Italy in and around Naples, its tentacles reaching everywhere… and Gomorrah is both a stunning documentary-like thriller and a lament for those who are inexorably drawn into the only life made available to them - a hell of drugs and crime.  Directed by Matteo Garrone, Gomorrah is a blindingly violent film - nothing is spared in its widescreen glory - nothing is sentimentalized or romanticized as in Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather films or the HBO series The Sopranos

Adapted from Roberto Saviano's nonfiction account of the Camorra, the film follows a group the residents in a run-down housing complex that looks like some large and battered ship that has come ashore on a hapless Neapolitan hillside.  Everything is falling apart, from rusting hinges on doors to water piping; the people themselves appear to be survivors of some earthly apocalypse, psychologically beaten down and physically devastated.

Beaten down indeed, for the Camorra is an octopus with a thousand tentacles that has risen from the depths to strangle this ark-like structure, squeezing the very life from it, running its economy on a corrupt system of patronage and fear, demanding submission with deadly attacks on anyone who will not play their terrible game.  The film tells separate stories that entwine, each one a tragedy.  In one scene, two rather dumb and naïve young men who think they can beat the mafia at its own game parade around a local beach in their underwear spraying the air with machine gun fire.  It's a perfectly absurd image that encapsulates the great tragedy of lost talent and lost lives in the Mezzogiorno.

And then there is the other Italy; how to reconcile the two?  We recently picked up Shirley Hazzard's Ancient Shore, Dispatches from Naples, where she says: "Whether I wake these mornings in Naples to the Mediterranean lapping the seawall or on Capri to the sight of a nobly indifferent mountain, it is never without realizing, in surprise and gratitude, that I - like Goethe, like Byron - am living in Italy." Perhaps, there is a choice.  There always is.  

 

See:  Gomorrah, dir. by Matteo Garrone 

Read:  The Ancient Shore, Dispatches from Naples, Shirley Hazzard 

 

Tags:  hazzard

 

 

       
 

 
       
     

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