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The Sopranos as a Revolutionary Text in the Gangster Genre History

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 2243 words Published: 19th Oct 2021

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The Sopranos turned into a primary rework of the gangster genre, which both exposes as well as conceals contradictions in cultural myths re-examination which is the basis of the genre. While their are many aspects of that The Sopranos incorporated from the gangster traditional genre, it was able to transform this particular genre in response to social changes taking place in American society between the 1980s and the 1990s (Nochimson, 2002). The changes in events in the U.S at the time included political scandals, corruption in major corporates, and loss in faith in politicians as well as a national business. The consequence was a wide gap between the rich and the poor and the father's patriarchal authority decline. Besides, the changes in American society contributed to dependency on drugs incline and psychotherapy to handle social behavior deviating from the norm plus an increase in society violence which at the time was a norm (Keeton, 2002). The argument the present paper makes is that The Sopranos ideology negotiations between the political truths and the new social realities of American family life and work that was represented in many traditional conventions of the gangster genre as well as in family melodrama. However, the film did result to subvert and change in the reproduction of the traditions of the gangster films plus it explored themes that were non-existent in these gangster genre. This particular interaction does give rise to a contradictory and alternative reading of the narrative.

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Defining the Gangster Genre

A gangster and crime film or TV shows are represented by actions that showcase corruption or gangster or criminals, underworld characters, bank robber, thugs or those who carry out operations, not in line with the law. It is typical of these characters to kill, steal and attack all their lives and the action they take gives rise to crime (Nochimson, 2002).

Overview of the Film The Sopranos

The Sopranos initially aired on HBO in 1999 and run till 2007. The film was focused on the lives existing in New Jersey of a biological titular family and their other families in the gangster life. The fictional drama was written by David Chase. Unintended, the film had an array of gangster film motifs to borrow from, literally steal from and even beg (Wilson, 2017).

Background of the Gangster Genre

The Sopranos last shot in the last episode generated a lot of public commotion in the year 2007 when the series publicly went off the air. At a local bar, tony and his family are having dinner at a local burger joint, Meadow paces into the restaurant cutting to black brusquely. Tony is not shattered like past gangsters because he had not been to jail, he is not a traitor to his crew or neither does he turn on a more social suitable lifestyle. As the relation began tony and the audience is left all over sudden. Questions arose from Tony’s capability to manage his business lingers, doubt the character's future of his criminal and biological family (Keeton, 2002). 

The last scene ambiguity in this series permits relationship speculation as the series went on as the whole Sopranos Experience lacked a robust moral judgment. Throughout this paper suggestions on the unsettled pressure existence in the gangster genre, but the Sopranos Experience changed to television pay-cable disclosing the pressure and offered a chance for expounding what gangster spectator meant (Keeton, 2002). Due to that the series allows me to scholarly write literature about the gangster to fill the void and focus on the pressure between gangster and spectator as a continuing changing dilemma than final moral judgment (Tomasulo, 2018).

The gangster genre has made it difficult to recognize the American principles as early as D.W. Griffith’s The Musketeers of Pig Valley (1912) after the leading role victimized by a gangster and his crew finally swore as dishonest accomplices for the gangster at a point of imprisonment.at the end the three important features of a gangster are The Public Enemy (William Wellman, 1931), Scarface (Howard Hawks & Richard Rosson, 1932) and Little Caesar (Mervyn Leroy, 1931), they all tried to build a strong moral value demands for their viewers by sentencing the gangster to death at finale of the film. The excitement of the gangster experience and the thrill of surprise aesthetics applied to set up the narrative have frequently built pressure for audiences between morally motivated moments of the association from the gangster's illegal activities and compassionate association with the gangster throughout the history of the genre.

Dis-identification and identification are too obvious, but in contrast showcase ambiguity of combinations of putting oneself in the character’s shoes and even despite the spectator not being the one committing the violence as shown on screen, they do justify their actions that the character takes in the film. The spectator assumes that the character’s actions take place via sharing their socioeconomic desires and anxieties. There numerous scholars that have taken note that the family and the home space structure assisted gangster movies to forge a sort of identity with the audience from America. In combination with these kinds of identification, historically the gangster category made use of astonishment aesthetics as a means of thrilling the audience (Nochimson, 2002).

While offering instants at which the viewer could back off and have a chance to disidentify with the shown illegal action on the screen. Such moments did also create a form of excitement for the audience while still showcasing immoral actions. Then the category has proved indebted, either by choice or by the obligation to showcase morally upright ultimatums that demonstrate condemnation of the illegal activities of the gangster. The idea is the tension management as well as the moral ambiguities that emanate from this complex identification that arises between the spectator and the gangster. While academics have taken note of these ambiguities and tensions, they also permit in early gangster movies moral ultimatums and sympathetic readings of the later Henry Hills and Corleones to pushing aside more complex identification structures in this particular genre (Weidinger, 2013).

How The Sopranos is Different from Other Gangster Genre

The final season of the film The Sopranos did consolidate the dispersion narrative of long-form to place focus much closer on the logic governing narrative if the primary plotline. It included the Mafia festering warfare between the New Jersey gang headed by Tony Soprano and the New York crew led by Philp Leotardo (Frank Vincent). The expectation is a confrontation ultimately, sorer because many of the primary players get murdered or die-Silvio, Bobby, Christopher, Ralphie and many more. Hence the feud that exists between the New Jersey gang and the New York mob turns personal in the grand animosity that brews between Tony and Phil. But surprising the anticipated showdown from such a situation fails to take off. It is a twist considering that two hitmen imported do kill a Leotardo look-alike by mistake (Weidinger, 2013).

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 Unexpectedly Tony handles the feud without involving Phil through a financial deal brokering (one that permits the whacking of Phil). Parenthetically, the death of Phil is not near the classical stuff strategy. He gets shot at the petrol station while in his car run over his head where an onlooker ends up vomiting at this horrific sight (Weidinger, 2013). Therefore, the “Rising Action” of Aristotle gets replaced by a very dull negotiation that takes place in the underworld. Plus the anticipated duel to the very death (or a Main Street gunfight) that matches the Shakespeare monumental get supplanted by an auto car accident anti-climax which is more bizarre (Wilson, 2017).

This particular ending can easily be summarized as follows: the end is a combination of a regularity that is non-narrative of a family anodyne activity with a non-ending singularity non-narrative that does not finalize anything. It demonstrates the ideologies promoted by Anton Chekho who indicate that television reinvention is possible by a different ending (Yacowar, 2013). Besides the film, Sopranos does also eschew the Hollywood conventional ending (as well as the main narrative) in a very crucial way. While in any classical Hollywood cinema relies on the dialogue memorable line tag as a device (for instance “nobody is perfect”), series produced by David Chase ends in a non-diegetic sort of music or grave silence. The voices of the characters are still generally for a few shots, if not minutes before the ending can take place. For instance, in the film, “Gustave Flaubert” direct discourse is utilized. Chase in most cases affirms a superior perspective that is beyond that of the characters in his movies, while at the same time challenging his viewers to take up a similar position he takes (Yacowar, 2013).

Therefore, many of the shows do end up with a huge twist in the voice of the narrative as a character either completely disappear or is showcased as distant or perhaps marginalized within the frame. However, at such moments the prominence is attained by bringing forward the landscape. Such image lingering does invoke an active spectator inscription one not given an easy master narrative satisfaction or what is seen as a happing ending but in contrast, the overdetermination challenge finale that proves polysomic. The approach matched the concept that is promoted by Viktor Shlovysky of an ending that is illusions where one gets induced to give their personal desired ending via observation of the scenery or the weather at the ending (Yacowar, 2013). 

With such endings it means that the cold at the moment can only get colder or plain is interminably stretched (Yacowar, 2013). The film The Sopranos ending showcases a darker screen. The film long-form open texture stopping in most cases does deny closure within the set diegesis and hence throw away any kind of resolution. That is any unraveling and raveling that Aristotle promotes back to the audience. This narrative contract does relate to the artistic language general issues in a world of postmodernity. Therefore, these shows ending often showcase independent entities, where the text is apart from the narrative main body. As opposed to being structures around one cathartic event (the Oedipus blinding), the episodes in the film Sopranos are mainly and often cyclical in their structure, a vignettes series with minimal noticeable fall and rise- what is regarded as a continuing continuation Paul Schrader. The Sopranos does contradict the master narrative general affectivity (Tomasulo, 2018).

The normally associated emotional connexion with the plot as well as the characters in the film the Sopranos is replaced by an appreciation of aesthetics. Also, it is replaced by a narrative that is not only thematic but quite ambiguous showcasing massive speculation. In a sense, the narrative long-form structures might prove the most critical aspect of the film. Unexpectedly and very odd, this finale that comes abruptly allows the story to go beyond its definite ending into this future water cooler realm, and into the minds of its inquisitive audience. Likewise, the narrative arc for the audience is extended by the allusions that David Chase penchant. The reason lies in the need to compel the viewer to look-up all classical subtle and any references promoted in the contemporary world to art. Also, it pushes for the enfolding of pop culture as well as literature in each episode. Such televisual long-form spectatorship does go beyond the narrative many decades of existent time. The narrative can last a lifetime (Wilson, 2017).


The Gangster Genre often attracts an ending with a blood bath where betrayal is avenged. But the Film The Sopranos the ending is more aesthetic and instead of gang violence ending the end is characterized by more of an art. The revenge is there just like in any other gangster movie but the end is varied from the desire of David Chase to change the narrative of any film he produces.

Reference List

  • Keeton, P., 2002. The sopranos and genre transformation: Ideological negotiation in the gangster film. New Jersey Journal of Communication, 10(2), pp. 131-148.
  • Nochimson, M. P., 2002. Waddaya Lookin' At?: Re-reading the Gangster Genre Through "The Sopranos. Film Quarterly, 56(2), pp. 2-13.
  • Tomasulo, F. P., 2018. Old Vino in New Bottles?: The Sopranos andLong-Form Narrative. Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 35(3), pp. 209-223.
  • Weidinger, E. B., 2013. The Sopranos Experience. Graduate Theses and Dissertations.
  • Wilson, C., 2017. 'The Sopranos': Mythologizing the Gangster Genre. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.popmatters.com/mythologizing-the-gangster-genre-in-the-sopranos-2495408601.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1
    [Accessed 3 November 2019].
  • Yacowar, M., 2013. The Sopranos on the Couch: Analyzing Television’s Greatest Series. New York: Continuum.


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