We know, we know, this is old news already. We just decided to wait until the flap died down to take a look at the situation surrounding David Chase’s comment that THE SOPRANOS big boss man Tony Soprano was alive at series’ end. For anyone interested we will recall the incident and then shed light on the matter as to what is all means.
From the start this writer was pretty elated about the news. In the post that started all the hubub Vox writer Martha Nochimson reminded us all of the final family gathering and the abrupt “cut to black” that ended the series in June of 2007. This is what she writes –
I had been talking with Chase for a few years when I finally asked him whether Tony was dead. We were in a tiny coffee shop, when, in the middle of a low-key chat about a writing problem I was having, I popped the question. Chase startled me by turning toward me and saying with sudden, explosive anger, “Why are we talking about this?” I answered, “I’m just curious.” And then, for whatever reason, he told me…
On occasion he breaks his reserve, but makes it clear that I am not to write about anything he says that is an interpretation of his own work, since he believes that the art of entertaining is leaving the audience imagination to run wild. So when he answered the “is Tony dead” question, he was laconic.
And then Vox dramatically placed this graphic into the post for all to read:
That is the extant of it. Before reading it for myself this writer was pretty happy. It gave a bit of validation to my previous post from 07.18.13 called “A New Perspective on THE SOPRANOS’ Final Scene” where I offered a controversial interpretation of THE SOPRANOS ending. I am not going to rehash that theory; the prior post is still there if you want to read it. What I will say, though, is that I postulated that Tony Soprano was alive and walked out of that diner after enjoying his family’s company and his onion rings. Many, of course, say that fade to black meant his death.
Now, months after that post…, Hell make it years after the finale, we have the definitive answer from the show’s creator on Tony’s existence beyond that point. However, this writer is not satisfied. When I heard that Tony’s fate had been revealed I thought, that I would be reading a long, rich quote from Mr. Chase detailing his thought process of ending the show the way he did. I was all ready to name my article ”I Told You So: David Chase Says Tony Soprano Didn’t Die In the Diner.”
Notice that my title changed. I was a bit deflated and felt that I couldn’t really rub anybody’s faces in it at all because, of all things, Mr. Chase’s actual answer and the way he delivered it. Mr. Chase was surprised and annoyed that the subject even arose. He blurted out a short, curt answer that, at first glance appears to end any further questions on the matter. Had he expounded on the answer instead of snapping off his response I might have accepted it. I am left to wonder, even though I endorse the theory that he survived the meal, whether Mr. Chase really felt that way or just quipped off what he thought the writer wanted to hear to end that line of questioning. It may just that since after that report went up Mr. Chase’s publicist released the following statement:
“A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying,” Tony Soprano is not dead,” is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true. As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, “Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.” To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of The Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”
Back tracking a bit, right? It is almost as if Mr. Chase likes the ambiguous, hazy limbo THE SOPRANOS is left in. Why is that you suppose? Perhaps it is all in the storytelling. The New Jersey Mob show makes more of an impact on pop culture and the TV landscape if it is still shrouded in an open-ended mystery than if it was tied up in a neat little “happy” or “sad” ending closure. Even though Mr. Chase has moved on and doesn’t want to talk about it he has left it for the rest of us to mull over; just leave him out of it. By making his snappy remark and then retracting it he left THE SOPRANOS right where he intended to leave it. The fact that he did that reaffirms my belief, mentioned in my previous post, that he meant the show’s ending to be interpreted by the fans the way they wanted it to end.
Though he may have given the show’s fans the gift of an open ending David Chase may just be annoyed that fans just won’t accept the artistic decision he made. An artist doesn’t really want the fans to question their creative choices, but to embrace them. It happens all the time. Hell George Lucas stopped making movies and even sold his company because fans didn’t support his artistic choices.
Is Mr. Chase annoyed that fans question the “cut to black” to the finale? Is he fed up with people debating it and asking him about it? By the way he answered the question you’d have to say that he is. So once again we are left with the question. Is Tony Soprano alive or dead? It is up to the fan, because to David Chase it just doesn’t matter and he wishes it still didn’t matter for fans.