More comments from Chase

#1
What's most intersting about this is the final paragraph. For anybody hoping that a potential movie may involve some chance at redemption for Tony (assuming he made it out of Holsten's alive), this should put those thoughts to rest.

'Sopranos' creator David Chase avoids woulda, coulda, shoulda
6 hours ago

NEW YORK — It's fitting that the epic saga of larger-than-life mob boss Tony Soprano is packaged in a 56-page, black linen album that weighs in at 4 1/2 kilograms.

The grandiosity of the HBO show is reflected in "The Sopranos: The Complete Series," an impressively definitive anthology that comes with the equally substantial price tag of US$399.99. As there are no plans for a "Sopranos" movie, this might be a fair price to fans eager for a taste of new material.

The DVD set, released Tuesday, offers an unprecedented compendium of all 86 re-mastered episodes, along with more than three hours of new bonus features. Seventeen months after the series abruptly cut to black, show creator David Chase visited The Associated Press to discuss the box set's release.


AP: Have you had a chance to review the old episodes?

Chase: No. I don't really watch the old episodes. (When I did) either I would think that it was pure genius, or I'd start to think, "You know what? We shouldn't have done that." Or, "That should have been faster." Or, "That line wasn't funny enough." Or, "We should have cut to a close-up." That's just what happens.

AP: You've gotten such effusive praise over the years. Vanity Fair called it "the greatest show in TV history." Is that tough, to have this type of acclaim heaped upon something that you've created?

Chase: It's very pleasant. Let me tell you. It's really like a warm bath. But, maybe it's just my nature ... I think it's the nature of a lot of creative artists, that, it's all about the process. The process is never ending if you've actually been involved in the making of it. You always think, "What could have been better? What should have been different?"

AP: Or, who should have been clipped, who shouldn't have been clipped?

Chase: No. Everyone who was clipped should have been clipped (laughs).

AP: Tony's this lovable guy, yet he's still a complete sociopath. He did these horrible things - to the people he loved, to everybody - yet we all were rooting for him the whole time.

Chase: Well, maybe there was another reason why you were rooting for him. Tony's reactions may have been overly severe, and his methods of dealing with (people) may have been cruel, sadistic and brutal, but it may have been that often, what Tony was responding to in that person's behaviour was correct, that he was right about what was going on.

AP: What is your next project?

Chase: I'm supposed to be writing a feature that I would write and direct and produce, for Paramount. And I'm supposed to be starting to write next week but instead, I'm here doing this because this is easier than writing. There's one thing I'd like to say, if I could - and it hearkens back to something you asked me about Tony being such a bad guy.

AP: I think I called him a sociopath.

Chase: He is a sociopath. No doubt about it. But, a lot of people said, "You know, we thought that maybe there was a chance that Tony Soprano would turn his life around and in the end there would be some morality to it. And that in the end he would transcend his evilness." And this, to me, is amazing because you wonder, "Do people pay attention to the story?" In Season 1, the guy's mother tried to murder him. So, he, of all people, is supposed to rise above that and be happier than he was before that happened? It doesn't make any sense at all. He never got over that.

Re: More comments from Chase

#2
It sounds as if Chase actually was into this interview given the way he spoke to important themes of the show.
[font="Franklin Gothic Medium"]You know, Vito called me “skip” the other day. Slip of the tongue, no doubt. But I noticed he didn’t correct himself.[/font][SIZE="1"][/SIZE]

Re: More comments from Chase

#4

Chase: I'm supposed to be writing a feature that I would write and direct and produce, for Paramount. And I'm supposed to be starting to write next week but instead, I'm here doing this because this is easier than writing. There's one thing I'd like to say, if I could - and it hearkens back to something you asked me about Tony being such a bad guy.

AP: I think I called him a sociopath.

Chase: He is a sociopath. No doubt about it. But, a lot of people said, "You know, we thought that maybe there was a chance that Tony Soprano would turn his life around and in the end there would be some morality to it. And that in the end he would transcend his evilness." And this, to me, is amazing because you wonder, "Do people pay attention to the story?" In Season 1, the guy's mother tried to murder him. So, he, of all people, is supposed to rise above that and be happier than he was before that happened? It doesn't make any sense at all. He never got over that.


WOW! i agree- what an important and significant comment from Chase. Finally-!

Its like we are getting a glimpse of his personal involvement in the show, with just a teeny bit of permission from Chase himself to peek in and have an opinion on Chase the man himself- that is actually informed by some sort of facts coming from him- not just based on our speculation as we've done for so long.

i got the idea that he was referring to himself as Tony here- i mean, everyone knows character Livia was based on Chase's own mother, who was apparently quite the ball-crusher. (And everyone knows that like Tony, Chase had a sort of reputation for being pretty tough to work with- probably came down hard on staff, etc., when he, most likely correctly, observed a shortcoming or mistake. In effect, maybe he metaphorically or symbolically "whacked" them with cutting, searing remarks; or deep, accurate insights into their character flaws resulting in reprimands or shots from the hip- often the most accurate shots there are-, --or something of that nature). So then, in this interview, Chase makes the most amazing point and asks the most important question, imo, to himself, when he says:

In Season 1, the guy's mother tried to murder him. So, he, of all people, is supposed to rise above that and be happier than he was before that happened? It doesn't make any sense at all. He never got over that.


imho, Chase is pleading through his art, through his creation, through his very self: for the world or someone out there, to not judge him, but to understand who he is; and why he is that way. To accept him. And i will be even bolder: to Love him.

I can just imagine him having conversations with someone- perhaps his wife Denise, or daughter, priest/shaman/healer/therapist, or very dear close friends-- where in that dialogue, that opposite person challenges him that, NO, Tony (actually Chase) is NOT supposed to rise above the horrible treatment by Livia (actually ball-crushing-sociopathic Chase's mother), but rather, that friend of Chase's makes the point that Tony has the choice, that he CAN rise above it. Tony CAN rise above the crippling fact that his mother tried to kill him or hates him, but he's not 'supposed to' or he's not expected to, or ordered to. We HOPE he does, for his sake and others, but there's no forcing it. It is an internal choice, influenced by external forces.

SO--, Chase is right: -"It doesn't make any sense" (rising above his mother's murder attempt, then becoming happier-if he 'never got over it') . That's why it is so hard. It takes faith. Its the work of life, work that most of us don't achieve success in- in the lifelong process 'til the day we die. And maybe Chase doesn't have that faith- maybe he has to ask for it? Perhaps learn it from that special someone who has faith in him and loves him? How DO people counsel the victims of horrible and inexcusable abuse? No one blames them for their anger and agony- but how do you help them get past it? Or if someone did blame them as victim, instead of holding the perpetrator responsible-- well Mr. Chase and Tony, i will say to you- God help them, because they are in serious big trouble, and will be held accountable beyond the local earthly realm of human justice, which i hope does something. But whether or not justice gets served here on earth, God does not take kindly to anyone who harms the spirit of a child, and God will meet us all when we die.

Chase finally says- 'He (Tony) never got over that' (that Tony's mother tried to murder him). Maybe that'll be the story of Chase's life: He never got over it (in his own life). Its an explanation- maybe even an excuse- for Tony's way of being. Its heartfelt, and heartbreaking, to me, to hear that from anyone i love. i want to reach out and grab them with my hope for redemption, not just in the afterlife, but in this life, now. To rise above an unfair hateful mother who inflicted undeserved pain. To get it- that it was not your fault! Not Tony's fault! (initially). Why does God allow children to be in the care, custody and control of sociopathic maniacs? Its a mystery. But maybe so they can rise above it and create art out of their life experience and thereby reach out to someone who sees their art or hears their pain. Chase's (Tonys') childhood trauma, pain and suffering were not in vain. Lots of us out here have better lives for being let in to share the story, for attempting to find redemption where there was no apparent guarantee for it. For staking a position in the audacity for hope.

There's a reason Chase could not bear to actually kill off his alter-ego or whatever the correct term is: Someone loves Chase, in spite of himself. It is clear in his art. And whoever that person is- Chase probably doesn't fully understand the mystery of it- but he gets it that he has a treasure more precious than gold- they're the very guardian of his soul. I would love to meet, know that person that loves Chase so much that he, Chase, can reach out on huge long limbs and create this art he shares with us. That person is invisibly but wholly present throughout the whole show, and especially at the end.

To kill off Tony would be the equivalent of committing suicide in this situation- which imo, we instinctively know is wrong. Knowingly committing suicide would be hurting the One(s) who Love us. Killing off Tony would be killing off someone created in partnership with Chase's own creator- and i can't imagine Chase would make that decision- like shaking his fist at God. Tony belongs to more than just Chase. And Chase, imo, knows that Tony's fate is ultimately out of Chase's hands now, like a parent that has to let their child grow wings and fly away from the nest. In a way- Chase doesn't have 'the right' to kill off Tony- he knows that Tony's own choices may cause Tony's demise, but that's between Tony and his creator now. That's why i can understand Chase's cryptic-seeming remarks about the end. Sure- its likely and probable based on the trajectory of choices so far that Tony will end up in the can or dead-possibly that very night- but its not for us to say so far- it is unknown at this time. The prodigal son still could come back- but he might not and there's no guarantees. The father has to let go of the son- and he can only hope he comes back.

Chase will make a sequel or movie including Tony ONLY if Chase himself gets some sort of epiphany or personal life experience that tells him Tony has truly gotten over the crimes of his mother, risen above it all, and achieved some happier level than he had before- some happier level that fuels inspiration for the next step. Chase is not a faker. If he doesn't believe it, he's not going to play the game that he does. i trust that instinct, and have greater respect for it. Its pure honesty. Chase truly does not know Tony's fate, i believe him.

Finally- i feel like i understand Chase on a more personal and imperfectly, flawed human level, and i feel honored. i love him and his work, flaws and all, more than ever now. :smile:

Re: More comments from Chase

#5
bada, that's quite an impassioned and eloquent post.

Chase's last quote also immediately grabbed me, although my reaction to it is somewhat different. As preface, I have always had what I believe to be deep compassion for Chase and his obvious insecurities precisely because we've been given to understand that much of Livia was based on his own mother and his relationship with her. A few specific anecdotes from his own life were directly written into the show. The "I could stick a fork in your eye" outburst is one that immediately comes to mind.

But I think Chase would readily admit that the mob culture of Tony's upbringing -- complete with the childhood traumas of seeing his father execute beatdowns and chop off fingers to collect debts -- was much, much more toxic than the "normal" upbringing Chase had (I believe his father ran a hardware store and his mother proof-read phone books:icon_eek:). The parallels undoubtedly lie less in Livia's extreme acts and more in the incessant put downs, the way that no effort to please -- no matter how genuine -- is ever received with grace and appreciation ("You're using mesquite? That makes the sausage taste peculiar." "Macaroons? I don't want any.") Obviously Chase's mother never tried to have him killed, although he once said in derisive amusement, "But if she had, I'm sure it would have been my fault."

It's a tribute to Chase's creative genius that he was able to so convincingly weave authentic details of his comparatively mundane experience of parental sabotage into a far more treacherous family (and "family") culture where uncles try to (or DO) kill nephews; sisters urge fiances to kill brothers; husbands fire bullets through their wives' hairdos; mothers manipulate brothers-in-law to kill sons; and fathers link their sons' maturity and masculine fitness to their ability and willingness to commit murder and violence against others.

In a related vein, there appeared to be a subtle flaw in the first couple of seasons of the show, namely that Livia was somehow made the heavy for all of Tony's problems. Tony always spoke of his father with great affection, especially early in the series. Nearly all of the early therapy sessions centered on Tony harboring repressed anger and hatred towards his mother, Tony having fundamental self esteem issues because his mother didn't love him, Tony "feeling like a loser" because his mother tried to kill him. When Tony told Melfi that his uncle said Livia had nothing to do with the botched hit attempt at the newsstand, Melfi uttered something that I still can't believe: "Your uncle loves you." There, straight from the oracle of wisdom in Tony's world (and from the character who most often seems to reflect Chase's analytical, if not personal, viewpoint) is a complete diminution of Junior's paramount role in the assassination attempt, all to make Livia the heavy, to make her role as an accessory or co-conspirator "the" determinative betrayal rather than that by the uncle and surrogate father who actually put the plot in action.

I think this early bias was due largely to the fact that Chase himself had more problems with his mother than with his father (although the latter apparently left his share of emotional scars). I suppose there was also a self-conscious effort in the beginning to view the causes of Tony's depression and anxiety only in terms of his interpersonal relationships (where Livia was paramount) and not in terms of any cognitive dissonance he might have over the extreme immorality of his lifestyle and violent actions. But the exclusivity of the Livia blame sometimes irked me, enough that I once thought, "Jeez, Chase, was Livia (and his own mother, by extension) really the devil incarnate just because she was a cold, narcissistic porcupine?" I thought Chase was too obsessed with mothers, though I formed that impression with the luxury of never having to doubt my own mother's love.

Gradually, though, this apparent flaw of blaming everything on Livia receded, and Melfi especially made overt efforts by season 5 to have Tony shift his indictments to his father, where so much of it rightly belonged. I surmise that's because Chase finally had to confront that, as much as he and Tony had in common with their respective mothers, there were even more important things they didn't have in common, most of it having to do with who their fathers were and what role Tony's father (and all his paternal surrogates) must have played in his life for him to become what he became. It's fitting that the last season is all about that, all about Tony finally opening the valve, in an incredibly perverse way, on all those years of repressed rage at the men who channeled and groomed him to become a mobster instead of a football coach.

One of the striking aspects of that last Chase comment, however, is how -- when commenting on the fly and in a seemingly less analytical and more "gut" level -- he still comes back to Livia and mother issues as the be all, end all in why Tony couldn't achieve a moral turnaround. I think it just cements that, as much as Chase can intellectually acknowledge the paramount importance of Tony's male influences and role models on his lifestyle, emotionally he still identifies with Tony simply as the son of a mother who didn't love him, a deprivation that trumps everything else in his life. It's as if Chase himself was Tony sitting in the chair in Melfi's office in Members Only hearing Melfi say with disappointment, "After all this time, you still can't accept that you had a mother who didn't love you."

I suppose I react a little personally to Chase's comment, too, because, as much as anyone I know, I was enthralled by the prospect that Tony might experience some kind of true spiritual intervention, something so profound that it could change his view of himself and the world forever in a way that would make it possible for him to condemn and walk away from life in the mob (death of a family member due directly to some force or chain of events his mob activity set in motion was, I believe, a likely scenario for this). For me, it was never about him being "happy", as I never thought that was realistic (or deserved) by Tony, but about him achieving some kind of true moral introspection and honest self judgment. By the end, that did start to look ridiculous, but only because Chase had gradually stripped away the pangs of conscience and capacity for remorse in Tony that, early on, convinced so many there was a decent human being buried deep inside him.

Chase's remarks sadden me less for Tony's sake, however, and more for his own because of what it strongly suggests about him, namely that he doesn't believe in the possibility of a transcendent spiritual awakening or divine intervention. Heck, the legacy of the whole coma sequence is testament to that. While Chase is willing to flirt with the idea of a metaphysical realm of existence -- maybe even willing to believe in it -- he ascribes nothing divine to it, nothing with the power to transform. That theme of futility of any effort or desire to change, even in the quasi-religious context of a 12-step program, plays out over and over and over again throughout the show.

Years ago, Chase once hesitated to answer an interviewer's query as to whether Tony believed in God because he (Chase) couldn't separate his own feelings on the matter from Tony's. Though there was some vague duplicity and some obvious signs of yearning to believe, his final answer re Tony (and himself, as I read it) was a fairly firm "no" . . . he did not believe in God. When the coma thing came, I thought truly that something must have happened to Chase that radically changed his beliefs and that we, in fact, would see a transcendent spiritual/moral turnaround in Tony. We were certainly tantalized with the possibility, but, like so often before, the tease went nowhere, Tony went nowhere, except continuing on the path of his circular orbit.

This is unfortunately going to sound all Oprah-like, but, like you, bada, I feel a great personal affection for Chase. I feel it even though I've never met him, though he has sometimes displayed disdain for a group of which I am an enthusiastic member (his audience), and even though I can identify with the kind of cynicism that says no such impersonal affection can be real. Vulnerability can be an incredibly endearing trait, and the vulnerability Chase projects through both his work and his occasional interviews has always sparked my compassion and interest and an instinct in me that wants desperately to assure him, "your mother or parents may have undervalued you, but a whole lot of other people know better."

Though I know no more about him than what has been revealed in interviews and profiles, I'm quite sure that his relationship with his wife has done far more than anything else to buoy him and compensate for his early emotional deficits. It's the main reason I feel so strongly -- and would love the chance to confirm -- that the mysterious, uncredited female voice on the phone in the coma dream belonged to his wife, Denise. I've never heard her speak, but it just fits.

Part of accepting at least the Christian concept of God is accepting the notion that one is loved infinitely and unconditionally, a love like the love of a good parent but perfected in the divinity and infallibility of God. One who has struggled his whole life with feelings of worthlessness and of being unlovable, precisely because he was denied the earthly model for God's love (that of a parent), is likely, it seems to me, to have particular difficulty accepting that such a love could even exist. Inclines me to remember him in my prayers tonight (and it won't be the first time) in hopes that he be gifted with some divine insight or experience that is considerably more transformational than the one he granted Tony in his coma.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: More comments from Chase

#6
Very insightful badabellisima,
Not trying to make it seem like I know everything that you just stated. But I always felt like Chase saw quite a bit of himself in Tony. How could you create a character like that, in my opinion the most psychologically dense character in a visual medium, and not see yourself in them.
So when it was being discussed about Tony's eventual demise. I always felt like Chase could not do that to Tony because:
1. it was so highly discussed, and seemed too obvious
2. Chase = Tony in many, many ways.
So Chase choosing an anti-dramatic (at least in a traditional way) ending for Tony, completely makes sense. And it caught me off guard that so many viewers were expecting Tony to die or be imprisoned. I mean I understood why they thought that, but never understood the venomous reaction people had to a great show which was unconventional in so many ways.

Re: More comments from Chase

#7
I think all of the above comments, although articulate as they are, assume way too much about David Chase's personal beliefs. You can't just assume Chase doesn't believe in spiritual awakening or moral transformation. Just look at the respectful way he presented the Pastor Bob character in 6b, at least until he started with the dinosaur stuff. The actual text of the story tells us that Tony Soprano himself was not capable of that type of change. He always reverted to his sociopathic murderous and destructive tendencies. That doesn't mean that Chase doesn't believe in those concepts himself, just that they couldn't or woudn't work for Tony. Chase was just staying true to his characters.

The problem may be the audiences "projections" of what Tony should be or how he should end up by the end of the story. If you were watching this 86 hour epic in hopes of finally seeing Tony's moral or spiritual redemption then you were in for a devastating and frusturating end to the saga. Interestingly enough, this may explain why many viewers just cant see the blackout as suggesting Tony's literal death despite the logic of it because if you accept it, then it truly is the end for Tony Soprano. If you don't accept it, then the story of Tony Soprano, and by extension, his chance for moral or spiritual redemption or change lives on.

Re: More comments from Chase

#8
Well Fly- you speak so eloquently and hit so many points directly on target that i hardly know where to begin. i guess mainly i must say that i agree with you on all points. i had forgotten how so many of the scenes you cited are critical to understanding a bigger picture about Chase that i must have been grasping at and not fully seeing until today. You have been making some of those points for a long time- for example, where the coma dream falls short, the over-emphasis on mother-blaming versus recognizing the father's part in it, etc.-- and i didn't get it so much before. You have been getting it all along, and i'm just beginning to see the fog clear. i want to ponder this more and post again after some thought and some sleep.

And meanwhile, i have had this thankful feeling all day. i keep feeling like Chase gave us a gift today. Like i want to say thank you to him, and to you Fly as well, for recognizing his artistic genius and creating a space for honoring it. A space i keep hoping he 'gets', or acknowledges in his heart, even if we never know about it. Its like we waited along time, not knowing what might happen, and then something happened. Something good. :smile:

Re: More comments from Chase

#9
CamMan wrote:... If you were watching this 86 hour epic in hopes of finally seeing Tony's moral or spiritual redemption then you were in for a devastating and frusturating end to the saga. ...


Well CamMan, i always hoped for Tony's redemption in a way- but i truly did not experience the end as devastating or frustrating at all. To be honest- i continue to be open to the idea that Tony could have been hit that night, but for whatever reason, it just isn't that important to me since it wasn't shown. i'm just not that worried about that Tony might have been killed, since we all die eventually anyway. i truly think Chase doesn't know, and i don't know, and no one knows the fate for another unless its directly revealed to them somehow.

Re: More comments from Chase

#10
Garth wrote:Very insightful badabellisima,
Not trying to make it seem like I know everything that you just stated. But I always felt like Chase saw quite a bit of himself in Tony. How could you create a character like that, in my opinion the most psychologically dense character in a visual medium, and not see yourself in them.
So when it was being discussed about Tony's eventual demise. I always felt like Chase could not do that to Tony because:
1. it was so highly discussed, and seemed too obvious
2. Chase = Tony in many, many ways.
So Chase choosing an anti-dramatic (at least in a traditional way) ending for Tony, completely makes sense. And it caught me off guard that so many viewers were expecting Tony to die or be imprisoned. I mean I understood why they thought that, but never understood the venomous reaction people had to a great show which was unconventional in so many ways.

Thanks Garth. And i agree- i also never understood the venomous reaction some people had about the ending. :icon_neutral:
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