Quasimodo, the lucky Hunchback of Nostradamus
9\11, terrorism, and “The Sopranos…..
“The Sopranos” is very much a art timepiece , meaning the show has always had a way of perfectly capturing the American culture at a particular time and place. We see this in the first two seasons which definitely still have a certain 90’s feel if you will. Another recurring theme maybe than any other is in the theme of terrorism both pre and post 9\11, with the latter being the more emphasized in the Seasons 4, 5, and 6 which are all filmed\written post 9\11. The threat of terror was definitely ever present in the days and years immediately following the September 11th incident in America. As a piece of fiction with political leanings The Sopranos arguably seeks to critique a certain part of our fear based culture that really became ever present post 9-11 and the never ending “War on Terror". I write this section in all due respect to the victims of 911 and terrorism anywhere. And also in respect to the work James Gondolfini and Paul did with Soldiers in combat and returning ones with PTSD. Jimmy was\is truly an angel for his work as well as the rest of the crew in the aftermath of 9-11. Much of the political commentary in the show is very critical of the Bush Admin, 9-11, and Iraq War, so I intend to let it all speak for itself and not infuse too much of my own political leanings. is In this next section I will take you on a ride to show you the many ways “this thing of ours” wove post 9-11 terrorism deep into its narrative, making several poignant commentaries even through the device of certain characters dialogue. Im also throwing in a dash of what is known as synchromysticism into this sauce, to show you how strangely this whole thing brings us full onion ring back to The Monolith. Hold onto your hat Dorothy……..
“It (9/11) changed the whole show……In fact, [the effect of 9/11] was actually developed consciously in the last episode of the entire series. [The final episode] is really about that feeling of foreboding.” -David Chase
We’re going to tackle this section in a more time linear fashion than others, mostly to highlight how much and how long this show has incorporated “terrorism” almost as an invisible character, a hidden menace, an un seen danger, "a giant piano hanging by a rope just over the top of your head every minute of every day.” to quote Carmela. Terror is the tool of many a great filmmaker, especially Hitchcock, who is arguably the master and originator of much film terror. You know Chase once Directed and episode of the 80’s Hitchcock remake series, so not only is he an avid admirer but also a serious student of Hitchcock himself. But thats all Ducks and birds, I mean eggs and oranges, I mean, ahhhhhh, never mind………Lets see look at where and when this terror thing started in “this thing of ours”. Lets start by looking at dialogue from the first episode of Season Four, “For all debts public and private”. A very interesting conversation between Bobby and Tony at a Diner over dinner.
Before talking too much about September 11th, lets pause and take a look at both this Nostradamus Character and Quasimodo for a minute. I mean why invoke these two characters into “this thing of ours”? Nothing on this show is an accident as Matthew Weiner once said, so we can say its safe to assume we should take a closer look at what the writers are pointing at, besides poking a little fin at the over obsessive need of people to have explanations for tragic events like September 11th. The connection some have made to Nostradamus and his famous predictions to 9-11 is over this particular prophecy of his;
"How's your family doing, you know since the tragedy with your dad?”-Tony Rough on my mother. How old is she now? "-Tony
"She's 69. Mom really went downhill after the World Trade Center. You know, Quasimodo predicted all this.”-Bobby
"Who did what?”-Tony
"These problems. The Middle East, the end of the world.”-Bobby
"Nostradamus. Quasimodo's the Hunchback of Notre Dame.”-Tony
"Right. Notre Damus. Nostradamus, and Notre Dame.”-Bobby
"It's two different things completely.”-Tony
"It's interesting, though, they'd be so similar, isn't it? And I always thought, Okay, Hunchback of Notre Dame. You also got your quarterback and halfback of Notre Dame.”-Bobby
"One's a fucking cathedral.”-Tony
“Obviously. I know, I'm just saying. It's interesting, the coincidence. What, you gonna tell me you never pondered that? The back thing with Notre Dame?”-Bobby
Two bodies=Two Towers
XII 52 *
Two bodies, one head, fields divided in two,
And then to reply to four unheard ones:
Little ones for great ones, clear evel for them,
Lightning at the tower of Aiguesmortes, worse for “Eussouis”
Four unheard ones=Four planes hijacked and “unheard” from
Lightening at the tower=This one is the more obvious, with a tower reference. The two names in the last line suggest two towers, or two names for each tower. This is the generally accepted possible prediction that is being played on in “The Sopranos”. One more thing about Mr Nostradamus, heres a little bit of a wikipedia article
So this kind of explains the reference, lets now take a look at Quasimodo, as this reference seems a little more of a riddle. Forgive me but as you can tell, I love a good one, and even more I love the process of dissecting it. So heres some excerpts from wikipedia about Mr Quas I. Modo;
Michel de NOSTREDAME (depending on the source, 14 or 21 December 1503 – 2 July 1566), usually Latinised as Nostradamus, was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Since the publication of this book, which has rarely been out of print since his death, Nostradamus has attracted a following that, along with much of the popular press, credits him with predicting many major world events. Most academic sources maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus's quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power. (emphasis added)
This is one of the first times we see the subject of Bells brought up with the mention of Quasimodo, in reference to terror, or impending terror. More on this later, but make a little mental note. This is the first time we also hear about the September 11th attacks on the show. This showed aired September 15, 2002, 4 days after the one year anniversary, so many Americans were eagerly anticipating Chase and Co’s commentary on the events and how they would be incorporated into the shows narrative. First thing noticeably different was the absence of the world trade center towers from the shows opening credits. It was instead replaced with a shot of a toll booth out of respect. Up until then it was definitely an important part of the opening shot as it was so identifiably NYC as to reference you to the geography of leaving NY state towards Jersey. So this was definitely a big move, to take it out. But it also acknowledges the sense of loss to take it out, a way of respecting it even for what it is no matter what side anyone is on, a tragedy with a huge human toll of epic proportions on US soil. Yet even though the buildings were gone, the character of Terror became more apparent then ever in the series run all the way to the Finale, which makes it important enough to analyze. In this episode is also the appearance of the $20 bill, featured prominently in the final scene and the final shot even which is a close up of Andrew Jacksons eye, like an all seeing eye, that stays through the whole credits, a rare thing done in only one other episode. The $20 strangely fits into some 9-11 conspiracy mythology. Right after the tragedy, a thing started going around the internet that showed if you folded the $20 bill, among all the others, like the old back cover of Mad Magazines, it made a picture that closely remsembles the scenes of 9-11. It sounds nutty but it also looks kinda eerily close. Lets take a look.
Quasimodo is the bell-ringer of Notre Dame and a barely verbal and half-blind hunchback. Ringing the church bells has made him deaf. Abandoned as a baby, he was adopted by Claude Frollo. Quasimodo's life within the confines of the cathedral and his only two outlets — ringing the BELLS and his love and devotion for Frollo — are described. He ventures outside the Cathedral rarely, since people despise and shun him for his appearance. The notable occasions when he does leave are his taking part in the Festival of Fools — during which he is elected the Pope of Fools due to his perfect hideousness — and his subsequent attempt to kidnap Esmeralda, his rescue of Esmeralda from the gallows, his attempt to bring Phoebus to Esmeralda, and his final abandonment of the cathedral at the end of the novel. It is revealed in the story that the baby Quasimodo was left by the Gypsies in place of Esmeralda, whom they abducted.(emphasis added)
Quasimodo, protagonist of the 1831 French novel Notre Dame de Paris (most often called in English The Hunchback of Notre Dame) by Victor Hugo, was found abandoned on the doorsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral on the Sunday after Easter, AD 1467. In the words of the novel:
He [sc. archdeacon Claude Frollo, Quasimodo's adoptive father] baptized his adopted child and called him Quasimodo; whether it was that he chose thereby to commemorate the day when he had found him, or that he meant to mark by that name how incomplete and imperfectly molded the poor little creature was. Indeed, Quasimodo, one-eyed, hunchbacked, and bow-legged, could hardly be considered as anything more than an almost
A theme that occurs in the Book Four of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is love. Love can exist in many forms. Love between mother and child, love between one and his hobby, and love between one and an object are relationships that are all present in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Claude Frollo is the priest of Notre Dame. Growing up, he was a very intelligent boy. He was fascinated by science and medicine. He had a love of learning; it was his passion. Later in the story he even turns to science and studying when he feels his life is going downhill. Learning was Frollo’s love until the day his parents died, and he adopted his baby brother, Jehan. Then he realized “that a little brother to love sufficed to fill an entire existence.” Frollo put all of his focus into caring for Jehan, and he loved him unconditionally. He also adopted another child later named Quasimodo, for the very reason that “if he were to die, his dear little Jehan might also be flung miserably on the plank for foundlings,--all this had gone to his heart simultaneously; a great pity had moved in him, and he had carried off the child.” Although the child was hideous and no one else wanted him, Frollo promised to care for him and love him always, as he did with his brother. Quasimodo’s ugliness only strengthened Frollo’s love for him. When the foundling grew up, he was given the position of bell ringer by his master, Frollo. “He loved them [the bells], fondled them, talked to them, understood them.” Quasimodo loved his bells; his most beloved bell was named Marie (the largest one). Quasimodo also loved his father, Frollo. After all, he “had taken him in, had adopted him, had nourished him, had reared him...had finally made him the bellringer.” Even when Frollo was unkind to Quasimodo, he still loved him very much. In Book 4, a love between father and son is seen. Frollo loved both of his adopted “babies” very much, and everyone had objects and hobbies that they loved dearly too; Frollo loved to learn, and Quasimodo loved his cathedral bells.
(To Be Continued..)
You know, Vito called me “skip” the other day. Slip of the tongue, no doubt. But I noticed he didn’t correct himself.