I'm a screenwriter living in Perth with a passion for film and the arts.
Published June 19th 2013
The candle burned out long before the legend ever will
The Sopranos has been gaining some fervent media attention recently. Partly because the show has been named the number one written show by the WGA (Writers Guild of America) West, but I suspect mostly because of the tragic death of the show's front man James Gandolfini.
Gandolfini plays the troubled lead role of Tony Soprano. His rendition vicariously exposes viewers to the day to day struggles of a New Jersey crime boss as he negotiates the delicate balancing act that is the two 'families'.
The news of Gandolfini's death was felt globally; Billy Joel put it best in his song 'Only The Good Die Young', and there couldn't be a more appropriate description of both Gandolfini and The Sopranos. The show was awarded a swathe of Emmy's year after year, with Gandolfini taking his fair share, so it got me thinking: what is it about this show and the man that has people all over the world hooked?
The Sopranos graced the silver screen for almost a decade. The show's creator David Chase had audiences craving more and after eight arguably short seasons, we saw the series come to a close. The ending I might add, that has people still debating five years after its screening.
In the series, audiences were told the story of a Jersey Mob Boss trying to come to terms with what it means to be at the top, and the complications and responsibility that come with that. Tony Soprano was the quintessential anti-hero. Here is a man who committed murder and sanctioned dozens of others, yet returned home to be present at the family dinner table. It was the perfect juxtaposition of the best and worst of the human condition. Tony was no ordinary mob boss. Throughout the series he is plagued by mental breakdowns, and personal issues, not to mention the hordes of power hungry people after him, envious of the very thing Soprano came to despise.
Gandolfini bought a certain believable authenticity to the show. To think that he almost didn't get the part, due to Australia's own Anthony LaPaglia turning down the role; LaPaglia must be kicking himself. Gandolfini made audiences side with Tony Soprano. Even after indulging in drugs; both prescription and recreational, adultery, greed, and murder, audiences still cheered him on. We wanted him to win at all costs because we felt for him. We felt that 'Hey I understand where this guy is coming from, he has a lot on his plate, it must be hard being Tony Soprano'. What does that say about audience members? Nothing. It says that David Chase and James Gandolfini created one of the greatest television characters of our generation, one that whose legacy will live on long after DVDs become a thing of the past.
As the show came to its end, people wondered, is Tony's time up? What good could possibly come from living the life he lives? So at the age of 51, Gandolfini's death is chillingly emblematic of the alleged demise of Tony Soprano in the last episode.
Unfortunately, Gandolfini's death also brings with it the realisation that audiences will never have closure, there will be no follow up 'The Sopranos movie' because the void left behind is impossible to fill.
I'm eternally grateful to have been blessed with seeing this man light up my screen. The Sopranos is a fantastic show, there will never be anything like it or James Gandolfini, RIP. So this weekend I'm going to cosy up with a blanket and start from season 1, you should do the same.