David Chase has never given the audience a definitive answer about Tony’s fate at the end of The Sopranos, but he may have just done something even better. For the latest issue of DGA Quarterly, the Director’s Guild magazine, he went through the entire final scene. He hits all the most important shots and provides an in-depth analysis of his thinking and what he was trying to accomplish. The whole thing is very cool, and an obvious must-read for fans of the show. As Alan Sepinwall at Hitfix points out, this is “the most clarity with which he’s ever discussed the meaning and intent of that final scene.”
Topics covered include the selection of the scene’s musical accompaniment, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, and how they cut the shots to load everything up with even more depth:
I love the timing of the lyric when Carmela enters: ‘Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, she took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ Then it talks about Tony: ‘Just a city boy,’ and we had to dim down the music so you didn’t hear the line, ‘born and raised in South Detroit.’ The music cuts out a little bit there, and they’re speaking over it. ‘He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ And that to me was [everything]. I felt that those two characters had taken the midnight train a long time ago. That is their life. It means that these people are looking for something inevitable. Something they couldn’t find. I mean, they didn’t become missionaries in Africa or go to college together or do anything like that. They took the midnight train going anywhere. And the midnight train, you know, is the dark train.
And, of course, the infamous cut to black at the end:
I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.
So yes. Go read. Now. It might not give you all the answers you’re looking for, but it is a fascinating look into the creative process behind one of the most iconic scenes in television history. That’ll have to do.
(Via DGA Quarterly)