Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Sopranos as opera

By Aussiegirl

Beautifully written column by Thomas Lifson. He actually tempted me to start watching the Sopranos, seeing as how there's a new season starting tonight. I've always felt that the Godfather series was drama truly on an operatic or even Shakespearean scale. By placing the characters in what amounts to a modern setting of a more ancient time, when blood feuds, and family honor and personal vengeance were wreaked without recourse to courts and law -- and like in opera or Shakespeare -- the stage is left littered with corpses -- the drama can tackle the really fundamental human conflicts in a big and dramatic way. In the modern world we live under a system of laws, while the ancient world, the mafia world, and the current Moslem world operate on a system of honor -- hence the Moslem penchant for "honor" killings, over-sensitivity to slights and insults, emphasis on blood feuds and revenge. These kinds of systems leave the human condition exposed in a way that a more law-constrained setting cannot do.

The American Thinker

It has been more than 21 months since I last saw a brand new episode of The Sopranos, an artistic achievement that has begun to make a lasting impact on the medium of television. Artistically superior to the vast majority of movies, The Sopranos has the ability to develop characters and plot lines that speak to fundamental issues of human existence, and which trace the arc of tragedy across generations. Like The Godfather trilogy before it, the peculiar circumstances of a mafia don – unconstrained by the normal moral and legal restraints of ordinary mortals – are used to probe deeply into what makes all of us tick.

As I wrote when it left the air last in 2004, one of the reasons I love The Sopranos so much is the simultaneous moral complexity and moral certainty it portrays. “This life we have chosen” becomes a curse, eating away at those who embrace it, and often enough destroying them, along with their loved ones.


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