New David Chase comments

#1
I mentioned this in my (very long) analysis that I recently posted in the "Made in America" thread (nice plug for myself). Here is the link and the article

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article2401658.ece

The Sopranos black out
You’ll be baffled by The Sopranos’ ending, but creator David Chase insists it’s not as cryptic as some suggest

Stephen Armstrong
You want to know how The Sopranos ends? Here it is: the screen goes black. Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that. Indeed, so much more complicated that the US entertainment industry and significant parts of the internet have been talking about little else since the last series aired in June. The final episode of the mobster show has become television’s grassy knoll.

Less than three months after it appeared, there are at least eight joke versions on YouTube: in the style of The Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, the Austin Powers films, a retro drinks commercial and, with a chilling inevitability, Star Wars. An e-mail essay claiming that every extra in the finale has been seen before on the show began circulating the day after the broadcast. One blogger believes the songs chosen for the final season, if noted in order, offer an answer; another questions a moment when Tony, Carmela and AJ eat their onion rings in the style of a communion wafer; and far too many people have been analysing the lyrics of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, used in the finale.

Al Gore discovered that he would be on a plane to Istanbul when the episode aired, so he begged Brad Grey, the chairman of Paramount (distributor of An Inconvenient Truth) and an executive producer of the show, for an advance copy. Grey finally relented and had a (Halliburton-made) steel case containing a copy delivered to the tarmac where Gore’s plane was waiting. The case was locked with a code, and the former vice-president had to phone Grey’s office from the air for the access number. Rudolph Giuliani then called Grey to complain that he hadn’t been given similar treatment.

David Chase, the show’s creator and executive producer, fled the country shortly before that fateful night. There was no price on his head, of course; he was just crashing at the one luxury he splashed out on in 10 years on the show, a large house in southwest France. He came back to America for the TV Critics’ Awards, where he poked fun at the conspiracy theorists by telling reporters, “The walrus is Paulie.” Two months on, he’s still bemused.

“When this started, I thought the best we could get would be a decent cult following, loyal but sweet,” he says. “Mostly, I thought it wouldn’t succeed, that it would be suffocated by the critics. In fact, we got only one bad review. When we finished the pilot, then the first series, we kept saying: there is no way they’re going to keep on letting us get away with making this. But here we are. In the week of the finale, with a war in Iraq and car bombs in London, the American media focused on the ending of The Sopranos.” He sounds slightly horrified at all he has wrought.

Of course, the shower of attention is because, as has been said before, the show effectively changed television. It was the first to place gangsters at the centre of the narrative, with cops as characters just passing through. Tony Soprano was a mobster, but one aware of his lot; as stressed as the average man, in therapy over anxiety, worried about the family business, trying to do the best for his kids. You came for the mob, but you stayed for the human stories and emotional pain, drawn out with acidic comedy by Chase and his carefully whittled-down team of New Jersey writers.

As such, it paved the way for the current crop of antihero dramas: The Shield, Dexter, Eddie Izzard’s The Riches. And by setting the budget for series one at $2.5m per hour, it allowed CSI to follow with its $3m+. Most important, by making television cool and unfolding luxurious story arcs across whole series, it attracted acting, writing and directing talent across from the movies and onto the small screen.

In a parallel universe somewhere, Chase’s agents didn’t persuade him to dig up a two-hour movie script about a mobster in therapy who finds out his mum wants to whack him and take it to broadcasters after his years on Northern Exposure came to a close. And Chris Albrecht at HBO didn’t see the potential andpersuade him to plot the story out across 13 episodes. In that universe, we might have Lost, Desperate Housewives, House and Ugly Betty, but they would be based on the templates drawn up for Walker, Texas Ranger and The X Files.

None of which impresses Chase. “I don’t watch television,” he says shortly. “Not a single other show. Just The Sopranos. I much prefer to go to the movies.” Indeed, the element of the Sopranos finale he seems proudest of is its cinematic feel. He was always frustrated that they mixed the soundtrack on a movie system, then compressed it for TV. All his life, he’s wanted to make movies. From the moment he broke with his overbearing Italian-American parents – fans know Tony’s murderous matriarch, Livia, is based on Chase’s mother – and pursued a career in the moving image, it was the big screen he had his eye on. But that was in the 1960s. Somehow, The Rockford Files, Northern Exposure and The Sopranos got in the way. Now 62, he’s finally got producers snapping at his scripts.

“I’ve got a few ideas,” he says carefully. “I’ll just see if people plan to suck all the vitamins out of them.” One thing he is constantly asked about, of course, is a Sopranos movie. Sex and the City is going to have one, and The X Files two, so why not Tony and the boys? There’s a pause as he chooses his words. “The reason I’m so cautious about this is, I say these things, then they say, ‘David Chase is jerking our chain. He’s trying to lead us on that maybe there will be a Sopranos movie.’ I’m not.” He sounds weary and frustrated. “There is no plan. I don’t think we should do one. But everybody reserves the right to change their mind, or miss something and want to go back to it. I’m realistic enough not to rule that out, but I would say the chances are really unlikely.”

For now, there’s the final nine episodes to enjoy. Perhaps because Chase has so little regard for television, he’s delivered his most textured, complex season to date. It begins with Tony, Carmela, Tony’s sister Janice and brother-in-law Bobby taking a break in the Adirondacks and musing over mortality, then unravels into that episode, with more tension than ought to be legal. So, Mr Chase, what is the secret of that Sopranos finale?

“If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there,” he explains. “This isn’t Lost. When you see it, we’ve shed light on everything. The one thing that really puzzles me is why a British newspaper would be so interested in a show about New Jersey Italian-Americans.” Perhaps it’s because they represent rebellion without rejecting capitalism, I venture. “That’s what I always thought.” He sounds satisfied. “Their motives are the same as ours – it’s just their methods are the ones we wish we had the balls to use. Sometimes.”

Re: New David Chase comments

#2
Well this certainly lays to rest some people's over-analysis of those final minutes. With all the talk of bells tolling, last suppers, tigers, and onion ring-communion wafers. While the Sopranos definitely is rich with symbolism and metaphors, it is always important to know when to pull back and just look at what is given, as opposed to what we infer when looking too hard. I think some of the writer's points are a bit off-target.

He seems to poke fun at the idea that Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has no other meaning. I don't think it is far-fetched at all to look for meaning in that song. I am positive Chase gave it much thought and think it DOES speak about the show through its lyrics.

It is, however, understandable why fans would want to search for deeper meaning, even if Chase didn't intend for that. Given the abrupt nature of the ending. I think, if nothing else, fans can at least agree it left the audience wanting more (although many would argue, they did this, but not in a good way) which is a core rule of performing.

Re: New David Chase comments

#3
Exactly and good post. "If you look really carefully at the last episode, It's all there". IMO Chase is saying everything that is necessary to tell you the ending is in the final scene. However, you do have to "look really carefully" to see it. There is no "Lost" style ambiguous nature or mystery to the ending. This may signify a definite ending that you have to "look really carefully" to see. If Tony survived, then I dont see what we have to "look really carefully" at to see as he is clearly alive the last time we see him. IMO he is clearly talking about the way he directed and edited the scene. The way he directed MOG and most importantly the POV pattern leading to the blackout from Tony's POV. To me it makes perfect sense, nobody could see this on the first viewing. It is only after you "look really carefully" at the scene again that you would see it. Bacalas flashback also tells us "you never hear it when it happens". Perfectly consisent with the interpretation laid out above. Like Chase said, he "shed light on everything". We dont need obscure or enigmatic references to tell us that. However, all of the prior foreshadowing, continuity in certain scenes from past episodes and other symbolism corroborate the final interpretaion of the final scene. They make the ending richer. However, they are not necessary to tell us Tony died.

Re: New David Chase comments

#4
"Al Gore discovered that he would be on a plane to Istanbul when the episode aired, so he begged Brad Grey, the chairman of Paramount (distributor of An Inconvenient Truth) and an executive producer of the show, for an advance copy. Grey finally relented and had a (Halliburton-made) steel case containing a copy delivered to the tarmac where Gore’s plane was waiting. The case was locked with a code, and the former vice-president had to phone Grey’s office from the air for the access number. Rudolph Giuliani then called Grey to complain that he hadn’t been given similar treatment."

Seriously, is this a joke or for real?

Re: New David Chase comments

#5
“If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there,” he explains.


This is the part that stymied me. Why do we have to look at it really carefully?

If it was obvious, it seems to me that the meaning would stand out on its own and be easy to understand at first glance. But the fact that it requires a careful look suggests to me that there are some intricate factors involved and in order to understand the meaning, it requires some time and effort. I can't see anything that jumps out at me.

Re: New David Chase comments

#6
Splishak wrote:[/b]

This is the part that stymied me. Why do we have to look at it really carefully?

If it was obvious, it seems to me that the meaning would stand out on its own and be easy to understand at first glance. But the fact that it requires a careful look suggests to me that there are some intricate factors involved and in order to understand the meaning, it requires some time and effort. I can't see anything that jumps out at me.


Well Splishak, you are right, imo. And reviewing more of that Chase statement:

“If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there,” he explains. “This isn’t Lost. When you see it, we’ve shed light on everything...."... (Chase's quote continues per above)

well, since Chase actually states how they "shed light on everything", seems to me its even more obvious that he isn't trying to use the blackness- the lack of light- to obscurely imply directly that Tony was shot to death. I don't think he's trying to be clever, just honest.

I mean, think about "Lost". Its all about obscure fascinating scenes everyone can pick apart and analyze and follow clues about and speculate on, etc., which i love to do obviously. Chase tells us directly that he is NOT doing the Lost thing! Whatever was there to see, was something Chase shed light on. So the blackness scene was not a point that had light shed on it. It was dark, not light. It was just a blackout to emphasize the preceding points, not a point in itself.

And this i say as one of the queens of over-analyzing, making mountains out of molehills, exploring far-fetched theories and considering ridiculous possibilites at least once or twice throughout the series-- that kind of poster! Even I think that the equation (Blackout = Tony is definitely Dead) is really getting over emphasized as a representation of Chase's intent. He would have made it more clear if it was his intent. He just wasn't that obscure throughout the show, and he plainly tells us so. He is just not a Lost kinda guy. :smile:

Re: New David Chase comments

#7
badabellisima wrote:Well Splishak, you are right, imo. And reviewing more of that Chase statement:

“If you look at the final episode really carefully, it’s all there,” he explains. “This isn’t Lost. When you see it, we’ve shed light on everything...."... (Chase's quote continues per above)

well, since Chase actually states how they "shed light on everything", seems to me its even more obvious that he isn't trying to use the blackness- the lack of light- to obscurely imply directly that Tony was shot to death. I don't think he's trying to be clever, just honest.

I mean, think about "Lost". Its all about obscure fascinating scenes everyone can pick apart and analyze and follow clues about and speculate on, etc., which i love to do obviously. Chase tells us directly that he is NOT doing the Lost thing! Whatever was there to see, was something Chase shed light on. So the blackness scene was not a point that had light shed on it. It was dark, not light. It was just a blackout to emphasize the preceding points, not a point in itself.

And this i say as one of the queens of over-analyzing, making mountains out of molehills, exploring far-fetched theories and considering ridiculous possibilites at least once or twice throughout the series-- that kind of poster! Even I think that the equation (Blackout = Tony is definitely Dead) is really getting over emphasized as a representation of Chase's intent. He would have made it more clear if it was his intent. He just wasn't that obscure throughout the show, and he plainly tells us so. He is just not a Lost kinda guy. :smile:

I think that is most definitely true, but we cannot forget things like Calling All Cars, The Test Dream or his coma dream/whatever you want to call it. I have to think those things inform the final season and final scene. I think too many have hung up on the actual blackness itself and thus have lost sight of the full finale and what he might be clearly saying there rather than some trick or "message."
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: New David Chase comments

#8
Ya I do think people get too hung up on the blackout, much like people get hung up on death rather then life. So instead of over analyzing those last few seconds who have to look at the whole picture, all 86 episodes. If your always focusing on the end you will never get the now.

Re: New David Chase comments

#9
I mean, think about "Lost". Its all about obscure fascinating scenes everyone can pick apart and analyze and follow clues about and speculate on, etc., which i love to do obviously. Chase tells us directly that he is NOT doing the Lost thing! Whatever was there to see, was something Chase shed light on. So the blackness scene was not a point that had light shed on it. It was dark, not light. It was just a blackout to emphasize the preceding points, not a point in itself.


Actually, "Lost" is often criticized for not advancing the story and for things NOT being "there." Seeing how in this same interview Chase criticized TV, it's not out of the real of possibility to think that's what he meant. "Lost" doesn't wrap things up. "The Sopranos" did.

If you ask me, that means death.

The "it's all there" thing has been around since the day after the finale aired. The only new thing in this interview is "really carefully" which IMO could mean the Members Only guy going into the bathroom, clearly asking us to remember "The Godfather."

But in the end, this doesn't clear a thing up.

Re: New David Chase comments

#10
Well, your point is well-taken, and i still think that DC would have made the blackout meaning more clear if death was the intented interpretation, but i surely might be wrong.

Also, what about the "tracking shot" and POV sequence so carefully discussed by RA and SilMan and others elsewhere, in terms of the parallel with the Godfather scene? i mean, in GF, is there a long tracking shot of when Michael Corleone goes into the bathroom? i don't remember it, (and i'm at work and can't re-view that now). So we know that there is the long tracking shot of MOG going into the bathroom, but seems if the parallel comparison is to hold, there ought to have been one in the same type scene in GF, and i don't believe there was. If the theory is supposed to work, it should be consistent. Ofcourse there are simliarities in that there is a bathroom in a restaurant, but i think DC would have made it more clear if he intended this GF copycat interpretation. That would just be too obvious, IMHO.
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