Gomorrah (film)

Gomorrah (Italian: Gomorra) is a 2008 Italian crime film directed by Matteo Garrone, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Roberto Saviano, who also collaborated in the screenplay. It deals with the Casalesi clan, a crime syndicate within the Camorra — a traditional criminal organization based in Naples and Caserta, in the southern Italian region of Campania. The film was released in Italy on 16 May 2008, and premiered in North America at TIFF on 11 September 2008, followed by release in New York City and Los Angeles on 13 February 2009. Gomorrah received critical acclaim, and also won five awards at the 2008 European Film Awards.

Gomorra (2008 movie poster).jpg
Italian theatrical release poster
Directed byMatteo Garrone
Produced byDomenico Procacci
Written byMatteo Garrone
Roberto Saviano
Maurizio Braucci
Ugo Chiti
Gianni Di Gregorio
Massimo Gaudioso
Based onGomorrah
by Roberto Saviano
StarringToni Servillo
Gianfelice Imparato
Maria Nazionale
Salvatore Cantalupo
Gigio Morra
Salvatore Abruzzese
Marco Macor
Ciro Petrone
Carmine Paternoster
CinematographyMarco Onorato
Edited byMarco Spoletini
Distributed by01 Distribution
Release date
  • 16 May 2008 (2008-05-16)
  • 11 September 2008 (2008-09-11)
Running time
137 minutes
Budget€5.9 million[1]
Box office$46.7 million[1]

The 2014 TV series of the same name is loosely based on the same book, but unrelated to the film.[2]

Plot summaryEdit

The film opens with the murder of gangsters relaxing in a tanning salon. This shooting occurs between clans of the Di Lauro Camorra syndicate which rule Scampia-Secondigliano, and triggers the so-called Faida di Scampia (Scampia feud) which is the backdrop of the entire movie. The Faida erupts between members of the Di Lauro syndicate and the so-called scissionisti (secessionists), who are led by Raffaele Amato, brother of two of the men killed in the opening scene.

The film intertwines five separate stories of people whose lives are touched by organized crime.

Don Ciro
Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) is a timid middleman who distributes money to the families of imprisoned Di Lauro clan members. After the feud develops within the clan, he is ambushed by a pair of angry secessionists during a delivery. Fearing for his life, he later offers to defect to their side. They refuse his offer, and tell Ciro that he has to "pay" for his life by selling some of his former associates. He leads them to the location where he is given the money for distribution. The pair raid the place, killing everyone but Ciro, and take most of the money, leaving some cash on the table for Ciro. Ciro, still somewhat blood-spattered, walks off past several bodies to an uncertain future.

Totò (Salvatore Abruzzese) is a 13-year-old grocery delivery boy who witnesses some drug dealers abandon a bag of drugs and a gun while evading the police at Sette palazzi in Scampia. He returns the items to the gang, and asks to join. His initiation in a cavern consists of him being shot while wearing a bulletproof vest as a test of courage. As the feud intensifies, families in the neighborhood whose loyalties are suspect are ordered to move out or suffer violence; Totò's fellow gang members receive similar threats. Later, while hanging out with his gang in the streets of Scampia, one of his gang is killed in a drive-by. The gang members decide to stand their ground and exact violent retribution by selecting a woman, Maria (Maria Nazionale), as their next victim, as her son has joined a clan of Secondigliano secessionists. Totò, who has delivered groceries to Maria, is forced to lure her out of her apartment, where his comrades execute her.

Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) is a graduate who works in waste management. His boss, Franco (Toni Servillo) provides a low-cost toxic waste disposal service that allows northern industrialists to dispose of materials like chromium and asbestos in the countryside of southern Italy. Franco and Roberto orchestrate the illegal disposal of the waste at abandoned quarries and other environmentally-sensitive sites. During one such operation, a drum of toxic chemicals is accidentally spilled on a driver. Franco refuses to call an ambulance, and hires children to drive the trucks when the workers refuse to continue their work. Later, Franco and Roberto meet a family of farmers who, desperate to extinguish their debts, decide to allow the burial of chemical substances in their countryside. An elderly farmer gifts Roberto a basket of peaches, but Franco later tells him to throw them away because they are contaminated. Roberto then decides to quit his job and tells Franco he cannot bring himself to poison the earth, to which Franco says that he shouldn't think he is the better man, because thanks to the actions of people like them Italy was able to enter the European Union, solving problems others had caused. Roberto walks alone on a desolate countryside road.

Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) is an haute couture tailor who works for Iavarone (Gigio Morra), a garment factory owner with ties to the Camorra. Pasquale takes a night-job training Chinese garment workers. As they are competing with Camorra-controlled firms, the Chinese drive him to and from work in the trunk of their car. His secret work is discovered nonetheless, and his Chinese associates are killed in a drive-by. He survives the attack, but resigns his job. Later, working as a truck driver, he is in a transport café where he spots Scarlett Johansson on TV wearing one of his dresses. He smiles wryly as he drives away.

Marco and Ciro aka Sweet Pea
Marco (Marco Macor) and Ciro (Ciro Petrone) are two young wannabe-gangsters who try to operate their own small racket independently of the local clan. Impressed by mafia portrayals from Hollywood movies, they quote lines and spontaneously reenact scenes from Scarface in Walter Schiavone's villa while dropping references to Tony Montana, Miami, and Colombians. Their first score is robbing African immigrants during a drug purchase at the famous Hotel Boomerang, Castel Volturno. The word of the incident gets to the local mob chieftain Giovanni (Giovanni Venosa), who summons them and warns them under threat of violence not to repeat such behavior in the future. Ignoring him completely, they spy Camorra gangsters hiding a stash of weapons. They steal the weapons and amuse themselves by firing off rounds by the banks of a Regi Lagni canal estuary in the marshland. Once they run out of money, they use their guns to rob a video arcade, and spend their stolen funds at a strip club. The gangsters, angered, find them and threaten to kill them if they don't return the weapons within a day. The pair prove stubborn. Zio Vittorio (Vittorio Russo), one of the local gangsters, approaches them in a bar with an offer to come work for him. He offers them €10,000 if they return the weapons and murder Peppe 'O Cavallaro, in fact uncle Bernardino (Bernardino Terracciano). They accept the contract, which turns out to be a trap, as they are ambushed and killed by Giovanni, Bernardino, Vittorio and others at the location of their supposed target, an abandoned beach resort next to Regi Lagni canal estuary. The last scene shows their dead bodies being carried away by a front end loader.

Critical responseEdit

Box officeEdit

In the opening weekend, the film was the most watched in Italy, with a collection of €1,825,643.[3] The film grossed €10.2 million in Italy, making it the top 10 grossing movie in the 2007–08 season. The film made a further $36.5 million internationally.[1][4]


Gomorrah received critical acclaim. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 92% based on reviews from 152 critics, with an average score of 7.7/10.[5] Metacritic gave the film a weighted score of 87/100, based on 30 critiques, which it ranks as "universal acclaim".[6] In reviewing Garrone's film based on the book, Christoph Huber wrote: "With its interest in moving beyond the categories of novel or non-fiction, Saviano's work has been identified as part of a heterogeneous strain of national literature, subsumed as the New Italian Epic. A term that certainly isn't disgraced by Gomorrah, the film."[7] Manohla Dargis of the New York Times stated, "part of what's bracing about Gomorrah, and makes it feel different from so many American crime movies, is both its deadly serious take on violence and its global understanding of how far and wide the mob's tentacles reach, from high fashion to the very dirt."[8] Jonah Weiner of Slate stated, "Gomorrah is a deeply moralizing film, brooking no ethical ambiguity or mitigating factors in its hellish vision of organized crime."[9]

Top 10 listsEdit

The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.[10]

Awards and nominationsEdit

The movie premiered in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2008.[11] It was nominated for the Palme d'Or and won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. It won the ARRI-Zeiss Award at the Munich Film Festival.[12] The film was selected by the Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive e Multimediali to represent Italy in contention for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards. Despite the earlier success at Cannes, and defying expectations, it failed to be short-listed.[13] On 11 December Gomorrah received a Golden Globe Awards nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Gomorrah won five awards at the 2008 European Film Awards, including Best European Film in Copenhagen on 6 December 2008.[14]

The film received seven awards at L'accademia del Cinema Italiano 2009 David di Donatello Awards.[15] It was also nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.

Historical basisEdit

The film, following the book upon which it is based, portrays events identifiably similar to actual historical ones; for example, the Scampia feud. In the film's credits, the filmmakers thank the districts of Scampia and Torre del Greco, as well as the Carabinieri of nearby Boscoreale: these three suburban areas around the Bay of Naples feature cityscapes appropriate for filming this story.

The scene at the truck stop where Pasquale sees Scarlett Johansson on TV wearing one of the tailor's dresses is based on a portion of the book where Angelina Jolie wore a counterfeit dress to the Oscars. Garrone could not obtain that footage from the Academy and was forced to buy footage of Johansson at the Venice Film Festival in 2006 – even though press reports indicate hers was a vintage gown.[16]

Alleged and documented connections to the CamorraEdit

Oreste Spagnuolo, member of the Casalesi clan and main perpetrator of the Castel Volturno massacre, has alleged that Garrone paid a pizzo of 20,000 euros in order to proceed with the film. He also insinuates that Terracciano was cast as a part of this deal.[17][18]

Cast members arrestedEdit

Many amateur and non-professional actors from the area were cast in the film. Several are known to have actual involvement in Camorra clans and have been arrested on various occasions since the film's release, notably:

  • Bernardino Terracciano - extortion (2008),[19] sentenced to life for murder in 2016[20]
  • Giovanni Venosa - drug trafficking, extortion (2008),[21] sentenced to 13 years in 2009[22]
  • Salvatore Russo - drug dealing (2016, 2018) [23]

Similar accusations and arrests have surrounded the subsequent tv series.


  1. "Ma si vene stasera" – Alessio
  2. "La Nostra Storia" – Raffaello
  3. "Brava gente" – Nino d'Angelo
  4. "Must Pray" – Pieter Vercampt
  5. "Macchina 50" – Rosario Miraggio
  6. "Ragione e sentimento" – Maria Nazionale
  7. "Un giornio d'Amore" – Daniele Stefani
  8. "Sadeness (Part 1)" – Enigma
  9. "Esageratamente" – Anthony
  10. "O' schiavo e o' re" – Nino d'Angelo
  11. "Xiao Cheng Gu Shi" – Teresa Teng
  12. "Viento 'e mare (feat. Maria Nazionale)" – Matthew Herbert
  13. "L'amica di mia moglie" – Tommy Riccio
  14. "Finchè 'o sole me vo'" – Maria Nazionale
  15. "Herculaneum" – Robert Del Naja


  1. ^ a b c GOMORRA 2008
  2. ^ Rees, Jasper (2014-08-04). "Gomorra, Sky Atlantic, review: 'ugly, in a good way'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  3. ^ BOXOFFICE ITALIA 16 - 18 MAGGIO 2008
  5. ^ "Gomorrah Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Gomorrah Movie Reviews, Pictures". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  7. ^ Christop Huber. "Gomorrah". Cinemascope #35. Archived from the original on January 6, 2009.
  8. ^ "Lesser-Known Mobsters, as Brutal as the Old Ones". nytimes.com. February 12, 2009.
  9. ^ "Badfellas How Gomorrah tore up the mob-movie rulebook". slate.com. December 10, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Best and Worst Movies of 2009, Metacritic
  11. ^ "Garrone's 'Gomorrah' a chilling mob masterpiece". ctvnews.ca. 15 September 2008.
  12. ^ 14 Films Nominated for Arri-Zeiss Award Archived 2014-09-14 at the Wayback Machine, FilmFest München website, 2009
  13. ^ "Cannes winner misses out on Oscar". BBC News. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  14. ^ "'Gomorrah' Sweeps European Film Awards", IndieWire, 6 December 2008
  15. ^ David di Donatello Awards 2009 Archived 2014-03-22 at Archive.today, official website
  16. ^ "Oscar Crime: Gomorra Shoulda Been a Contender", Vanity Fair, 26 February 2009
  17. ^ "Garrone ha pagato i boss per Gomorra. Senza il pizzo non poteva girare il film", Il Fatto Quotidiano, 11 May 2012
  18. ^ "'Gomorrah' Helmer Accused of Collaborating With the Mob During Filming", The Hollywood Reporter, 11 June 2012
  19. ^ "‘Gomorrah’ stirs real life crime drama", Variety, 17 October 2008
  20. ^ "Duplice omicidio, ergastolo per Bernardino Terracciano: era il boss nel film Gomorra", Napoli Today, 12 May 2016
  21. ^ "'Gomorrah' mafia actor arrested for real-life mafia role", The Daily Telegraph, 5 January 2009
  22. ^ "Gomorra, boss nel film e nella realtà Condannato a 13 anni per estorsione", Corriere Della Sera, 10 July 2009
  23. ^ "Gomorra, arrestato Salvatore Russo: l’attore in carcere per la seconda volta", NanoPress, 14 March 2018

External linksEdit