I am a Melburnian. I have worked in Carlton for seven years. Most of the members of the Carlton Crew were familiar to me, although I have never met any of them. Alphonse Gangitano was often referred to as the Robert de Niro of the Lygon Street not after the actor, whatever his real personality is, but after the characters he played in films like Goodfellas and Godfather Part 2. It was obvious to all that have known him that Gangitano was imitating art and this was true for the rest of the so called "crew". On the other side of the non-existent proverbial fence were the suburban kids that had not known a life without violence Dino, Benji, Carl Melbourne has been mentioned more than once in the past decade as the 'most livable city in the world. It cannot be too far from the truth. It has the most of the charms of the best cities of the globe from New York to Paris to Barcelona without their accompanying woes. It also has a dark side, as dark as anything that you would find in Detroit, Marseilles, or Bangkok. Between 1994 and 2005, this alter ego of the city crept into surface of the cultured, intellectual and tolerant Melbourne. True to the title of Bugsy Siegel's biography 'they only killed their own' (mostly) but they did in broad daylight, in front of children, suburban mothers and 'more than innocent'bystanders. One of the safest cities in the world was suddenly in the spotlight as one of the most violent until the forces of the light (played by the detectives of Purana task force) put a stop to it.
What we know is that most of these hard men who lived as if there was no law, no rules, no morals and no tomorrow, also lived life as if they were actors in a movie. The news footage of the funerals (and there were more than two dozen of them) could as well have been taken from the episodes of Sopranos. They idolized the likes of the fictional characters in films such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Godfather trilogy, and Sopranos, because this is what drug dealers, bank robbers and career killers do between 'jobs', workouts and fornication: They watch films. It was life imitating art imitating life. Those, like me, who watched the whole scene unfolding in front of them (I used to live in the apartment building that was 200 metres from the club where Lewis Moran met his end) with a fascination bordering on the perverse, wondered about the price of real freedom. Were these men really evil or were they simply more courageous than the rest of us? Perhaps, they were both My middle-class friends looked at me with expressions ranging from surprise to disgust when I posed the question to them, only half joking.
Underbelly is a flawed series in a number of ways. Producers' insistence on choosing actors both with local popularity and a striking resemblance to their real-life counterparts takes its toll on the quality of the acting. It is, to say the least, uneven. So are the scripts Way too much emphasis on fornication, after the point is well made, and too much pondering on the popular taste formed by our, now world-famous, serials: Neighbours and Home and Away.
Let me assure the viewers foreign to the current affairs of fair Melbourne: All the public incidents in these series have really happened and their recreation is eerily similar to reality.