24 August 2009

My Beginning the End

"The Sopranos" truly is the most ground-breaking television series ever made. Sure, I like "Lost" better, and "Six Feet Under" is a better HBO series even. But as far as creativity and just plain great film-making goes, "The Sopranos" takes the cake. And also...Jamie-Lynn Sigler is freakin' hot! 

I've taken another long break from my movie watching to devour "The Sopranos" on DVD. My friend and soon-to-be former co-worker, Ben, has this ridiculous deluxe box-set of the complete series. I can't get enough. My only worry is that I won't be able to polish this thing off by the end of the week. I'm moving back to East Tennessee just in time for football season, and I can't take this set with me. I'd hate to have to go more than a day without my fix.  

"The Sopranos" is, I've come to understand recently, an American tragedy of beautifully epic proportions. Tony Soprano's life is hard, and, despite the fact that he is most definitely a sociopath, we still root for him to succeed and to live. I don't think there has ever been a more flawed television hero, which is the greatness of this show. He would tell you that he just wants to provide his family with a life of comfort and security. And, like many men, his "work" hands him a level of stress that is hard to handle. Then you have to throw in the fact that his business is entirely illegal and involves murder most regularly. The mafia in pop culture as always been a fascination. And then David Chase hurled a curve-ball that made it seem real, here and now. And James Gandolfini knocked it out of the park.

The sixth and final season of this mob-boss of all things television starts of the with a Bada-Bing of a bang. I'm sure you've all seen it but it is surely new to me. Anyhow, season six starts off with this thing called "Seven Souls" by a group called Material. It is basically just William S. Burroughs reading overtop of this light funk beat. This is a small portion of that reading: 

he ancient Egyptians postulated Seven Souls. Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director. He directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret Name is the title of your film. When you die, that's where Ren came in. Second soul, and second one off the sinking ship, is Sekem: Energy, Power, Light. The Director gives the orders, Sekem presses the right buttons. Number three is Khu, the Guardian Angel. He, she, or it is third man out . . .

Number four is Ba, the heart, often treacherous. Number five is Ka, the Double...The Ka, which usually reaches adolescence at the time of bodily death, is the only reliable guide through the Land of the Dead... Number six is Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory, your whole past conditioning from this and other lives. Number seven is Sekhu, the Remains.   

This is heard as we see a montage of the characters (including Meadow herself dancing around in her underwear for her fiance) living life, while Mr. Burroughs is reading about the ancient Egyptian thoughts on death. Upon looking at what this says, I came to understand how perfectly it fits into the brilliance of the creative brains behind this series. People die on "The Sopranos"...all the time. Their lives and deaths are controlled, or "directed" in miniature "films" about the "life" of Don Tony Soprano and his family, friends, and fogies. We see here at the "conception" of the final season that "death" is looming. Since I know how "The Sopranos" ends, it is easy for me to understand, after seeing this particular episode for the first time, just how clever Mr. David Chase and his team of writers were with this show. And that famous last scene and abrupt ending that I know is coming begins to make perfect sense with each episode I watch. A work of fiction can be much like life because its "directors" (gods) are "pressing the right buttons." Worlds are created for our amusement, and they end with a cut to black.

Watch the scene here:

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