If you still find yourself sorely missing The Sopranos 16 years after its finale, then The Many Saints of Newark, which is currently streaming on Netflix, is just the movie that you need to watch. The Many Saints of Newark is set decades before the events that took place in The Sopranos, and provides an exceptional amount of insight into the early life of the Tony Soprano that we know from the iconic HBO series.
The Many Saints of Newark gives us a look at a young Tony Soprano (portrayed by James Gandolfini’s son, Michael Gandolfini) as he navigates through his formative years under the guidance of Dickie Moltisanti, a violent and impulsive mentor figure.
Centered on Tony Soprano’s formative years, The Many Saints of Newark takes place across the late 60s and early 70s against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots.
Writer and creator David Chase was at first reluctant to make a film based on The Sopranos, but had a change of heart when he rediscovered his interest in the Newark Riots, and the racial tensions between Italian-American and African-American communities during this time of civil unrest. Chase was particularly interested in Tony’s boyhood, and wanted to further explore the moment in time before his rise to prominence as the boss of the Soprano family.
The Many Saints of Newark gives us a look at a young Tony Soprano (portrayed by James Gandolfini’s son, Michael Gandolfini) as he navigates through his formative years under the guidance of Dickie Moltisanti, a violent and impulsive mentor figure. From a young age, Tony is exposed to a life of organized crime. He witnesses Dickie’s struggle with his own violent impulses and erratic behavior.
Though The Sopranos shows us Tony Soprano navigating through his own struggles as he tries to balance his family life with his criminal activity, The Many Saints of Newark shows us the events leading up to Tony’s life as we saw it throughout The Sopranos’ six-season run.
Considered to be one of the best TV series of all time, it makes sense that a prequel to The Sopranos would pale in comparison, but The Many Saints of Newark it’s still worthy of your attention…
One notable takeaway from The Many Saints of Newark is Tony Soprano’s strained relationship with his mother, and his desire for her to take antidepressants to help her with her mental health struggles. The Sopranos shows us that Tony grows up to have anxiety issues of his own, and he often suffers from panic attacks.
But beneath the familial struggles that are evident in both properties, it’s also made apparent that Tony has the personality of a leader, which is highlighted during a scene with his guidance counselor in the prequel.
The Many Saints of Newark was a streaming success on MAX, and was streamed in more than 2.1 million households by the end of its first month. The Sopranos also saw a massive spike in viewership around the time of the film’s release because the prequel sparked a renewed interest in the series.
On the critical front, The Many Saints of Newark has a 71 percent critical score against an audience score of 59 percent on rotten tomatoes. Though die-hard fans of The Sopranos may not appreciate the storytelling that’s presented in the film, critics overwhelmingly agree that as a standalone film, it does what it set out to do, and tells a compelling story about a dysfunctional family during a time of unease.
More Sopranos On The Way?
With The Many Saints of Newark, we get a glimpse into the early life of Tony Soprano, something that David Chase wants to continue to explore. Wanting to bridge the gap between the prequel and The Sopranos, Chase has mentioned that if he could collaborate with former Sopranos writer Terence Winter, then he’d consider a sequel that takes place somewhere on this timeline.
There have been rumors about a possible new season of The Sopranos that takes place between The Many Saints of Newark and the series, but Chase has gone on record with The Hollywood Reporter stating that he wasn’t interested in doing another series. Chase did, however, express interest in telling the story about Tony Soprano in his 20s.
The Sopranos has been credited as the show that helped kick off the Second Golden Age of Television, and there’s no denying the impact the series has had on pop culture over the years. Considered to be one of the best TV series of all time, it makes sense that a prequel to The Sopranos like The Many Saints of Newark would pale in comparison, but it’s still worthy of your attention if you want to learn more about Tony Soprano’s origin, and the family dynamic he experienced before starting a family of his own.