“Many Saints of Newark” looks back at the youth and mentor of a young boss in the making, whose name has gone far beyond the borders of New Jersey: Tony Soprano. On the occasion of the screening of the prequel, we take a look back at “The Sopranos”, a huge fresco that has turned the television landscape upside down.
The Sopranos : what’s this ?
While he has the idea of a film about a depressive mafioso deciding to undergo therapy, screenwriter David Chase is advised by his manager Lloyd Braun to rethink the concept for a television format. On January 10, 1999, the pilot of the series The Sopranos airs on HBO. 85 episodes followed until June 10, 2007, when the conclusion left millions of American viewers speechless.
Meanwhile, Tony Soprano crosses many states, overcomes many crises and spans many corpses. Throughout the six seasons of this cultural monument straddling two centuries, the kingpin – with whom the late James Gandolfini finds the role of his life – tries to achieve a balance between his personal life and the criminal organization he heads . The protagonist is the head ofa mafia family from New Jersey, State in which David Chase grew up, closely observing his criminal activities like Martin Scorsese in New York.
Between two panic attacks and two sessions with his psychoanalyst Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), Tony Soprano tries to preserve his marriage with Carmela (Edie Falco) despite his countless infidelities, but also not to miss the education of his daughter Meadow ( Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and his son Anthony (Robert Iler). At the same time, with the help of his consigliere Silvio (Steven Van Zandt), as well as that of his right arms Paulie (Tony Sirico) and Christopher (Michael Imperioli), he takes care to avoid FBI surveillance, to anticipate betrayals and to discreetly get rid of the scales. All while pocketing as much money as possible.
Difficult to become one of the centerpieces of a genre regularly transcended in cinema, especially during the three decades preceding the broadcast of the first season of Soprano. Nevertheless, the series renews it and stands out as a pivotal stage within a television landscape on the verge of a facelift. Voluntarily, she departs from the flamboyance of the trilogy of Godfather, whose characters have fun reciting scenes they know like the back of their hands. If she knows how to be nervous, she does not have the shine of feature films like The Freedmen Where Casino.
Unlike Tony Soprano when he eats, the program takes time. He takes the time to get the viewer used to places that are becoming essential, such as the Satriale butcher’s shop, the protagonist’s imposing home or the Bada Bing strip club. Above all, he takes the time to develop his characters. The main ones keep getting thicker throughout the six seasons. Others are revealed in a few episodes. All participate in a coherent whole and serve the dramatic scale of this fresco.
Most of the deaths, for example, are brought in in a brutal and anti-spectacular way, sometimes giving the impression of being insignificant. But the ghosts continue thereafter to hover over the story, when they do not appear in the visions of the murderers unable to completely turn their backs on the guilt. These disappearances therefore become a real heartbreak for the viewer.
A big family
The rich writing of Soprano also goes through its nuances and ambivalences. Despite his monstrous deeds, it is nearly impossible not to bond deeply with Tony Soprano, while dreading his outbursts of cruelty. The same goes for Silvio, Paulie as well as Christopher, a magnificent tragic figure constantly overtaken by his demons, by turns pathetic and charismatic.
The Sopranos is obviously a gangster story. However, each spectator can find himself in this big dysfunctional family. Difficulty killing the father, inability to understand his children, feeling of nostalgia for an unknown era, fear of a decidedly dark and uncertain future … Universal themes and feelings contribute to making it a colossal work, managing never to fall into psychoanalysis or low-ceilinged symbolism.
In addition to the incredible main cast, the great family of Soprano is also made up of prestigious supporting roles. Robert Patrick, Joe Pantoliano and Julianna Margulies thus come to enlarge it. Some, like Steve Buscemi or filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, even take advantage …