Tim Tan Huynh

Gomorra La Serie

  • 4 Sep 2014
  • Gomorra is a foreign show about the infamous Camorra crime syndicates in Naples, Italy. La Serie is based on a best-selling book that's already been adapted into a critically acclaimed movie.

The book (2006), movie (2008), and show (2014) have the same name; the English localization has an “h” at the end. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but the two are supposed to be related by name and theme only, unlike my favorite non-fiction book turned dramatic movie, Friday Night Lights. The Gomorra show is presumably like the FNL show: they’re unrelated stories in the same environments as their book and movie cousins.

The real Camorra

The distinct culture of Friday Night Lights is high school football in Texas; for Gomorra, it’s organized crime of the Camorra in Naples. They might be described as “Naples-based Mafia,” but strictly speaking, Mafia are linked to Sicily and Camorra are linked to Naples.

I first learned about the Camorra from a BBC podcast around 2007, some time after the book was published and before the movie was released. I remember somebody—possibly the book’s author, Roberto Saviano—saying that the Camorra have billions of dollars in annual revenue and are more powerful than the Mafia. I got the impression that the Camorra could literally get away with murder in broad daylight.

On the other hand, somebody in the podcast also mentioned a Camorra boss who didn’t leave his house for three years until he was arrested.

The show

The easy comparison is The Sopranos meets The Wire. The former is about Mafia in New Jersey and the latter is about crime in Baltimore. Following people on both sides of the law, like The Wire, would be interesting. An in-depth study of criminology would be unique although it’s probably asking for too much. I suspect that Gomorra will be more like The Sopranos and focus on the problems of being connected to the Camorra.

I’ve seen the first two episodes. The first and, so far, only season has presumably finished airing in Italy. The UK has aired about half of the 12 episodes. The show already has some real surprises, but it has some clichés too. Ironically, the show looks more cinematic than the movie, which has a documentary style, and isn’t as ruthless (yet). There have been killings, but they haven’t been as disturbing like the extended trailer for the movie.

Compared to the little that I’ve seen of the movie, Gomorra La Serie seems like a more stylish and less brutal adaptation of the book. Because it’s a show, I assume that it would be subject to more restrictions than a movie. I could be wrong, though.