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PRINT February 2009

film

Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah

Matteo Garrone, Gomorrah, 2008, still from a color film in 35 mm, 137 minutes. Gaetano (Gaetano Altamura) and Simone (Simone Sacchettino).

WHEN HIS FATHER DIED, a friend of mine inherited a hotel in the town of Torre Annunziata, the site of a beautiful ancient Roman villa about fifteen miles southeast of Naples, and expected to take over the family business. But within a week he found himself in the hotel office with a gun pointed at his head by gangsters from the Camorra, the Neapolitan version of the Mafia, who were making sure he understood how to run the business. My friend sold the hotel and moved to New York.

That story, one of thousands that could be told, illustrates the disastrous condition of much of southern Italy, where there is virtually no place for smart, energetic people who refuse to live under the yoke of organized crime. More than a third of one of Europe’s richest countries is frozen in a state of permanent underdevelopment; the area’s principal talents leave or steer clear of any economic activity

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