Just finished watching an Italian TV series called Gomorrah. Rhymes with Camorra. Unlike the American Mafia or the Sicilian Mafia, the camorras have no hierarchical structures. There is not one single camorra – there are several, rather like constellations.
Organization is horizontal, rather than pyramidal. Positions may be inherited. Rules are not always followed.
It seemed strange to me how the actors and directors of this TV series were, in interviews, saying such nice things about American films and TV series. Unless they were referring to ‘slick,’ I kind of thought the opposite. The Italian version of a crime epic was grittier and more realistic than the ones I’ve watched – excepting perhaps “Casino” where there is not much room for romanticism.
But even there, Gomorrah was hands-down more realistic than any mafia conforming fare found on American TV and film. Hey listen, wiseguy, I’m not putting down the American films like Godfather and Casino and TV shows like “The Sopranos.” I thought they were great.
Gomorrah is different, that’s all I’m saying. Part of it is my own taste for realism. The more realistic the better. So let’s face it, the comorras of southern Italy don’t play very nice.
Gomorrah, offered by Sundance TV and still “On Demand” has three directors. You may have noticed that earlier I used the plural when I referred to the director (s).
There is Stefano Sollima, the key director of the character Pietro Savanstano, head of the clan. His wife is named Imma for Immaculata – how’s that for an Italian name? She gets her own director but in most cases she needs one only to move her through the scenes. Then they have a son. His name is Gennaro. At first he’s clueless but then grows into a chip off the old block. His director is Claudioo Cupellini.
What’s up with three directors? Well, Stefano Sollima is the top man but the other two have a great deal of independence. There are three driving forces therefore. Just as in real life the tensions occur between people, so it is with these characters. It’s fascinating – it’s conflict you can feel. It gets under your skin. The characters are despicable and noble at the same time. As in Game of Thrones, these three characters live in separate kingdoms, separate domains.
Other details: The screenwriter is Stefano Bises. The filming makes use of 126 different locations, 225 actors, and hundreds of actors. Italians go big if they go at all. The series transformed Naples into a huge movie set.
Though some Italians have complained of bad publicity for Naples (See Naples and Die) actor Salvatore Esposito, who plays Gennaro Savastano, points out that tourism to Naples has increased, not the other way around. I have to say that I am curious, too. My father was a ‘Napolitano” (Neopolitan).
The stories are true. They come from Robert Savio’s book of the same name: Gomorrah. Some of the inspiration, too, comes from Matteo’s film which was adapted also from Savio’s book.