Cinema Signal:

Reversible Destiny:
Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo


. "Excellent Cadavers"

The secrecy that conceals the mobster organization called The Mafia has, by its shrouded nature, inspired fear and nightmares for years, spawning a genre in fiction and filmmaking. At last, the truth of it is exposed in a documentary that traces the mob's formation and grim history of assassination -- a record of sweeping the best men of government into early graves.

Whatever claims to storied power and glamour it might hold in the fiction about it, the truth exposed by the documentary reveals the organization's utter sordidness and malevolent influence on all organs of the Italian government and its composition by verminous and slimy criminals who capitalize on their ability to corrupt.

Chief among those who actually did something about "La Cosa Nostra" were Giocanni Falcone and Paulo Borsellino, two judicial investigators who led the Maxi-Trials in Palermo circa 1990. The wonder isn't that these excellent prosecutors were eventually murdered (in 1992) but that they survived as long as they did under the threat of such lethal enemies long enough to do some good and give their citizens a taste of justice. The mob, however, has a very long reach -- in all directions.

That reach, upward to the highest offices of the land, would be shocking if it didn't explain so much about how The Mafia has been able to thrive and dominate for so long as a government within a government. Even through a period of widespread incarceration as a result of Falcone's and Borsellino's witness program that exposed the scum who controlled the crime, the bosses would turn the trials against them into little more than an aberration.

Government leader after leader, magistrate after magistrate are revealed as continually involved collaborators and beneficiaries. Even the recently deposed president Silvio Berlusconi, an extremely rich man by any measure, obscenely did nothing to satisfy the desire of the people to put an end to the cancer in the midst of their lives, suggesting he was getting his pockets lined.

Despite new leadership in this country of great wines, world-leading design, and art both classical and modern (including filmmaking), the pattern of history as outlined by Director Marco Turco and writers Vania del Borgo and Alexander Stille would seem to say that Italy is destined to live with the untouchable assassinations on its streets and the corruption that seems always to rule these corridors of power.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner




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