Let’s get this out of the way: No, he doesn’t tell you whether Tony dies. But David Chase has far more interesting insights to offer about the production, shooting, and composition of The Sopranos’ last scene in a recent DGA Quarterly article. Chase, who both wrote and directed the series finale, talks to the Directors Guild magazine about preparing the location (Holsten’s Ice Cream Parlor) and the difficulty of maneuvering in the cramped space to get the range of shots he needed. He also gets deep into his thinking behind the music for that scene, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”:
I love the timing of the lyric when Carmela enters: ‘Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, she took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ Then it talks about Tony: ‘Just a city boy,’ and we had to dim down the music so you didn’t hear the line, ‘born and raised in South Detroit.’ The music cuts out a little bit there, and they’re speaking over it. ‘He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.’ And that to me was [everything]. I felt that those two characters had taken the midnight train a long time ago. That is their life. It means that these people are looking for something inevitable. Something they couldn’t find.
There’s much more in the full article. This conversation with Chase is part of DGA Quarterly’s Shot To Remember series, which is a trove of insight into the craft and thought process of Hollywood directors. Highlights from the Shot To Remember archive include Milos Forman on Amadeus, John Badham on Saturday Night Fever, and Ron Howard on Apollo 13.