Culture Rover

#157 - Silence of the Sopranos

The final episodes of the Sopranos have been breathtaking: full of messy, inspired, Dickensian richness. But the most striking scenes on the show have been the quick cuts to the psychotherapists when they sit in stony, impenetrable silence, like TV screens turned off, blank and nonresponsive.

These shots are edited so that they almost lack continuity from the larger scenes in which the appear. Something about this style of editing heightens the importance of these moments on the show. The silence of the therapists screams out for analysis. But what are they saying?

Isolated close-ups of the psychoanalysts faces shift their gaze from the characters on the show to us as viewers, stared at directly through the camera's lens. Are these shots sitting in judgment of us for our identifications with Tony, his family, and his associates? Or are Melfi, Kupferberg, and Vogel, like us, voyeuristically obsessed with the thrills and disgusts of mob-watching? Is the passivity of their responses a condemnation of psychotherapy, or is psychotherapy a stand-in here for larger social responses? Does the psychotherapist turn out, oddly, to be the "strong silent type," the Gary Cooper of Tony's dreams, the figure he infamously idealized in an early episode (and would that be a good "ting," I mean thing?)? Or does "strong silence" fail to satisfy the confusing dilemmas of the current age?

Or, is stunned silence ultimately all one can do in the face of this show and all that it has to tell us about our times?


07 June 2007

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