Sian, I see a lot of talk about a Martin Scorsese movie called Goncharov. But I’ve never heard of a Martin Scorsese film called Goncharov. What’s happening?
Ah yes, there’s been a lot of talk on Tumblr about the greatest mafia movie of all time.
The little-seen Scorsese flick, released in 1973, starred Robert De Niro as Goncharov, “a former nightclub owner who comes to Naples after the fall of the Soviet Union” with aspirations of becoming a crime boss. Harvey Keitel plays Andrey (or Andrei) “The Banker” Daddano with an eye patch; Gene Hackman plays Valery Mikhailov; Al Pacino stars as Mario Ambrosini and Cybill Shepherd plays Goncharov’s wife, Katya. Apparently it was really good and added to the Criterion Collection.
And you’ve never heard of it because it doesn’t really exist.
For example, a few years ago, a Tumblr user posted a photo of some “knockoff boots” he’d ordered online, which had a very strange tag on the tongue: “The greatest mafia movie ever made. Martin Scorsese presents GONCHAROV. Domenico Proccacci production. A film by Matteo JWHJ0715. About the Naples Mafia.”
This was largely ignored until 2020, when another Tumblr user reblogged a comment on the original post, stating, “That idiot hasn’t seen Goncharov.” Like the good god himself and the Warden’s coffee maker, the internet works in mysterious ways; Earlier this month, Tumblr user beelzeebub made a fake poster for the film, tens of thousands of people suddenly shared it, and lo and behold: a new Scorsese film was born.
So Tumblr invented it?
Yes! And like all good jokes, people really got into it. There’s the movie’s poster, which has the tagline “greatest mafia movie(s) of all time.” A music teacher in Indiana composed a theme song for Goncharov, inspired by The Godfather. There is also a cash-in video game with an accompanying soundtrack and fake VHS. “Academics” wrote essays analyzing the film, which were published in (fake) film magazines. A representative of the film ratings platform Letterboxd even told the New York Times that they had to remove several user-submitted ratings for the film.
People created moodboards, used scenes from other films to create Goncharov gifs, and drew fanart of the best scenes (apparently there’s one with a boat) and their favorite “ships” or romantic pairings. Since this is Tumblr, a lot of the fanart is very weird; Obviously Goncharov and Keitel’s character Andrei have a lot of sexual tension. And somehow, in just a few weeks, more than 500 Goncharov fanfics have already been published on the Archive of Our Own fanfiction website.
Does Scorsese have anything to say about this?
Not yet – it’s hard to imagine Scorsese knowing what Tumblr or Dispatch is, but I have a feeling he might enjoy the enthusiasm surrounding it all.
But Wonder Woman and all-time hottie Lynda Carter posted two black-and-white photos of themselves and Henry Winkler titled “Me and ‘The Fonz’ at the premiere of Goncharov (1973) at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.” The picture is actually from the 1977 Golden Globe Awards.
Even Tumblr itself got involved tweet: “Goncharov was inexplicably ahead of him [sic] Time and his contribution to cinema is remarkable. Rarely does a film tell so many diverse and yet interconnected stories. It’s hard to believe that so few people have seen it.”
This week, Goncharov was the #1 trending topic on the platform. Scorsese was second.
I think the last question to answer is…why?
Like Ratatouille: The Musical (a fake musical based on the movie that ended up actually being made after people started building on a single song posted on TikTok) and Demi Lovato’s twin sister Poot Lovato (just a bad one Photo of the singer), people seem to really enjoy getting together to pretend fake things are real. While that impulse can lead to, uh, sinister things that seem to be in the news every day now, it also leads to sheer silliness — which I think should be reason enough to do anything.
But somehow Goncharov has become quite significant along the way: total strangers from all over the world forming a community to tell a story and flex their creative muscles – just for the fun of it.