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Made up of six short episodes with six main characters--all revolving around the four-sided criminality between the port of Naples, Scampia, Castelvolturno and Terzigno, and based on the best selling book by Roberto Saviano, 'Gomorrah' is a story of power, money and blood. These are the “values” that the residents of the province of Naples and Caserta confront every day; they have practically no choice, and are forced to obey the rules of the “system”- the Gomorra. Only a lucky few can even think of leading a “normal” life. The stories are woven together in this violent scenario, set in a cruel and ostensibly fictional world, but one that is deeply rooted in reality.
For more about Gomorrah and the Gomorrah Blu-ray release, see Gomorrah Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 3, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Salvatore Cantalupo, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria Nazionale, Toni Servillo, Gigio Morra, Salvatore Abruzzese
Director: Matteo Garrone
» See full cast & crew
Gomorrah Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 3, 2009
Based on Roberto Saviano's controversial book, Matteo Garrone's "Gomorrah" (2008) arrives on Blu ray courtesy of Criterion. Amongst the supplemental features on the disc are the documentary "Gomorrah: Five short stories", an exclusive interview with director Matteo Garrone, an exclusive interview with actor-director Tony Servillo, a lengthy interview with writer Roberto Saviano, deleted scenes and more. Region-A "locked".
In 2008, "Gomorrah" won seven David di Donatello awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Editing (Marco Spoletini), and Best Producer (Domenico Procacci). During the same year, the film also won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
There is nothing glitzy about Gomorrah. If you've only heard that it is a film about the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, and are expecting that it might be a wild and entertaining ride where the mafiosi talk, walk, and shoot as seen in the films of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma, then you are in for a disappointment of paramount proportions. In Matteo Garrone's film people lose their lives so quickly, and in such a brutal fashion, that the overwhelming majority of it feels simply like an uncensored documentary feature suitable only for foreign TV stations.
Set in the slums of Scampia, Gomorrah recreates the five highly controversial stories Roberto Saviani's book chronicles. The first story follows the deeds of Ciro (Ciro Petrone) and Marco (Marco Macor), two teenagers fantasizing about making it big on their own. The second story is about an old "carrier", Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato, Il Divo), who pays the weekly salaries of those who have remained faithful to the Camorra. The third story introduces a business-savvy gangster (Toni Servillo, The Consequences of Love), who generates revenue for the Camorra through a waste products business. The fourth story is about a 13-year-old boy, Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese), who desperately tries to earn the respect of the local crime bosses. The fifth and final story follows the downfall of a gifted designer (Salvatore Cantalupo, Appassionate) facing a difficult dilemma.
The manner in which the five stories of Gomorrah are linked may prove a bit too confusing for some viewers. They overlap each other without following a specific pattern, and at times it is difficult to tell exactly what takes place on the screen. Even when certain pieces of the puzzle begin falling in place, a lot remains unclear and difficult to comprehend.
The murkiness in this film, however, is intentional. Gomorrah was filmed in the manner described above precisely so that it could relate to the viewer how incredibly difficult it is for outsiders to understand the structural hierarchy of the Neapolitan mafia. Unsurprisingly, there are rules and codes the mafiosi follow in the film that remain an enigma even after the end credits roll.
What Gomorrah makes perfectly clear, however, is that the Neapolitan mafia has completely changed an entire region, and perhaps country. In Scampia, the biggest drug-pushing locality in the world, with daily sales of approximately 500,000 Euro per clan, no one could survive without the blessing of the underworld bosses. You think this is an exaggeration? Consider this – Roberto Saviano, the author of Gomorrah, was intentionally removed from the script for the film (in the book, he is actually a character of importance), and to this day remains under 24-hour police protection program.
Finally, Gomorrah would have never achieved the level of authenticity it reveals without Matteo Garrone's eye for detail. The locations in the film, as seen in the extras provided on the Blu-ray release, are absolutely breathtaking. The Italian director shot Gomorrah inside the slums of Scampia where the mafia controls practically every corner, and the images his camera captured are indeed impossible to forget. Simply put, this is the most realistic non-documentary crime feature an Italian director has ever filmed!
Gomorrah Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
Supervised and approved by director Matteo Garrone and director of photography Marco Onorato, this new high-definition transfer has been made from a digital intermediate. Dirt, debris, chemical stains, and warps have been manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system.
Gomorrah looks gritty, at times even dirty. During each of the different stories, contrast varies greatly. Clarity and detail are also effectively manipulated. As intended, the color-scheme is wild, almost impossible to describe with simple words. As result, large portions of Gomorrah convey strong documentary-like look, which fits the aura of the film perfectly. Disturbing scratches, debris, or dirt are nowhere to be seen.
For the record, Criterion's transfer looks very similar to that used by Optimum Home Entertainment in the UK for their Blu-ray release. Sharpness and contrast appear just a tiny bit better on the Criterion transfer during selected scenes. Overall, however, I must say that both transfers look incredibly strong. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, unless you have a native Region-A or Region-Free player, you won't be able to access its content).
Gomorrah Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
Gomorrah features a fully digital soundtrack. The audio for this Blu-ray release has been mastered at 24-bit from the original audio master using Pro Tools HD.
In my review for the UK Blu-ray release of Gomorrah, I noted how notably impressed I was with the audio treatment. Well, the Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track featured on Criterion's Blu-ray release of Gomorrah is just as remarkable. It is remarkably strong, with excellent surround activity and great dynamic amplitude. The dialog, in particular, is crisp and very easy to follow (though, I would not say it is easy to understand, considering the type of dialect spoken throughout most of the film).
Gomorrah Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"Gomorrah": Five short stories - an hour-long documentary from 2008, on the making of Gomorrah, directed and shot by Melania Cacucci for Fandango Productions. The same documentary appears on the UK release courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment. In Italian, with optional English subtitles. (63 min, 1080/60i).
Matteo Garrone - an interview with director Matteo Garrone shot exclusively for the Criterion Collection in July 2009 in Rome. In it, the Italian director talks about his encounter with novelist Roberto Saviano, the impact his book had on him (as well as the death threats that followed up), the type of message the film carries, etc. In Italian, with optional English subtitles. (23 min, 1080/60i).
Tony Servillo - an exclusive interview with actor-director Tony Servillo, who is from the region in Italy where Gomorrah is set, conducted in July 2009 in Rome. During the interview, he discusses his friendship with director Matteo Garrone, the character he plays, the complex structure of the film, etc. In Italian, with optional English subtitles. (14 min, 1080p).
Actors - Gianfelice Imparato (Don Ciro), Salvatore Cantalupo (Pasquale), and Toni Servillo (Franco) discuss their characters as well as the serious dilemmas they are faced with in the film. In Italian, with optional English subtitles. (11 min, 1080/60i).
Roberto Saviano - Roberto Saviano's 2006 book Gomorrah became an instant best seller in Italy, but it also made the author a marked man, now under constant police protection after receiving death threats from various godfathers. In this interview, conducted by Melania Cacucci in 2009, he sheds light on the different stories presented in Matteo Garrone's film. The same interview appears on the UK Blu-ray release. In Italian, with optional English subtitles. (43 min, 1080/60i).
Deleted Scenes - six deleted scenes - "Toto", "Don Ciro", "Franco 1", Franco 2", "Pasquale", "Ciro and Marco" - with optional English subtitles. (1080/60i).
Trailer - (3 min, 1080p).
Booklet - a 16-page booklet containing Chuck Stephens' essay "Terminal Beach". (The author is a contributing editor to Film Comment and Filmmaker magazines. He lives and teaches in Nashville).
Gomorrah Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah is one of the very best films to be released on Blu-ray in 2009. It is also the best Italian film I have seen in the last ten years (clearly better than Ferzan Ozpetek's La finestra di fronte, Marco Tullio Giordana's La meglio gioventù, and Nanni Moretti's acclaimed Il Caimano). Criterion's Blu-ray treatment is, as expected, fantastic. See this film! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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