Goncharov: why has the internet invented a fake Martin Scorsese film? | Martin Scorsese

Sian, I’m seeing a lot of talk about a Martin Scorsese film called Goncharov. But I’ve never heard of a Martin Scorsese film called Goncharov. What’s going on?

Ah yes, there’s been a lot of talk on Tumblr about the greatest mafia movie ever made.

Released in 1973, the little-seen Scorsese flick starred Robert De Niro as Goncharov, “a former discotheque owner who comes to Naples after the fall of the Soviet Union” with the goal of becoming a mob boss. Harvey Keitel plays the eye-patched Andrey (or Andrei) “The Banker” Daddano; Gene Hackman plays Valery Michailov; Al Pacino appears as Mario Ambrosini and Cybill Shepherd plays Goncharov’s wife, Katya. Apparently, it was really good and was added to the Criterion Collection.

And you’ve never heard of it because it doesn’t actually exist.

What.

So a few years ago, a Tumblr user posted a photo of some “knockoff boots” they had ordered online that had a very strange tag on the tongue: “The greatest mafia movie ever made. Martin Scorsese presents GONCHAROV. Domenico Proccacci producing. A film by Matteo JWHJ0715. About the Napoli Mafia.”

This mostly went ignored until 2020, when another Tumblr user reblogged a comment made on the original post, reading: “this idiot hasn’t seen goncharov.” Like the good lord himself and the Guardian’s coffee machine, the internet works in mysterious ways; earlier this month, Tumblr user beelzeebub made a fake poster for the film, tens of thousands of people were suddenly sharing it and lo: a new Scorsese film was born.

https://beelzeebub.tumblr.com/post/701284869475614720/goncharov-1973-dir-martin-scorsese-the

“,”alt”:”A fake movie poster for a made-up film, Goncharov by Martin Scorsese. The poster reads: Martin Scorsese presents Goncharov. A film by Matteo JWHJ 0715. A tagline underneath says: Winter comes to Naples, while underneath a composite showing Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Harvey Keitel, John Cazale and Cybill Shepherd in various roles, text says ‘The greatest mafia movie ever made’ and A Domenico Proccacci production”,”index”:7,”isTracking”:true,”isMainMedia”:false,”sourceDomain”:”assets.tumblr.com”}”>

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https://hanniecat922.tumblr.com/post/701464787011371008/goncharov-1973-dir-martin-scorsese

“,”alt”:”A post by Tumblr user hanniecat922 which shows another post by Tumblr user nemesis-is-my-middle-name that reads: bitches will be like “my ot3 [heart emojis]” and it’s a woman who could murder them, a guy who hasn’t had good night’s sleep in six years, and another guy who almost got both of the other two murdered. it’s me i’m bitches. Underneath the post are three pictures of Cybill Shepherd, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino respectively, with text overlaid on each. The first reads “woman who could murder them”; the second reads “a guy who hasn’t had good night’s sleep in six years”; the third reads “another guy who almost got both of the other two murdered””,”index”:8,”isTracking”:true,”isMainMedia”:false,”sourceDomain”:”assets.tumblr.com”}”>

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So Tumblr just made it up?

Yup! And like all of the best jokes, people have really committed to the bit. There’s the film’s poster, which has the tagline “greatest mafia movie (n)ever made”. 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 a fake VHS. “Academics” wrote essays analyzing the film, which were published in (fake) film journals. A representative for the movie reviewing platform Letterboxd even told the New York Times that they had had to remove multiple reviews for the film that had been submitted by users.

https://cloudmancy.tumblr.com/post/701604593052811264/you-see-it-dont-you-youve-become-a-monster

“,”alt”:”A Goncharov film poster made by Tumblr user cloudmancy which shows a stylised illustration of a man in a suit with the sleeves rolled up, on the ground on his hands and knees in a pool of blood. In his left hand he holds a gun. Blood is also dripping from his face, which can be seen reflected in the pool of blood. Positioned above the illustration is a title reading “Goncharov” with the letters arranged in a curved line; at the midpoint, there is an illustration of a huge semi-automatic rifle pointing downwards at the man. Underneath the poster, the Tumblr user has written “‘You see it, don’t you? You’ve become a monster too.’ What if that one iconic backstory scene in goncharov (1973) after he makes his first kill but as a movie poster” “,”index”:11,”isTracking”:true,”isMainMedia”:false,”sourceDomain”:”assets.tumblr.com”}”>

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https://leona-florianova.tumblr.com/post/701815664173891584/rare-goncharov-poster-from-czechoslovakia-by-lubo%C5%A1

“,”alt”:”A Goncharov poster made by Tumblr user leona-florianova which is purportedly styled after 1970s Czechoslovakian design, with red and green block colouring and some abstract details overlaid on Robert De Niro’s face”,”index”:12,”isTracking”:true,”isMainMedia”:false,”sourceDomain”:”assets.tumblr.com”}”>

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People have created mood boards, used scenes from other films to create Goncharov gifs and drawn fanart of the best scenes (apparently there is one involving a boat) and their favorite “ships”, or romantic pairings. This being Tumblr, a lot of the fanart is very queer; Apparently Goncharov and Keitel’s character Andrei have a lot of sexual tension. And somehow, in the space of a couple weeks, there are already more than 500 Goncharov fanfics posted on the fanfiction website Archive of Our Own.

https://shouty-y.tumblr.com/post/701821565294247936/rewatched-goncharov-1973-and-did-a-few-studies

“,”alt”:”Digital paintings of fake Goncharov scenes by Tumblr user shouty-y; the first shows a woman standing on a balcony looking down at the camera with the subtitle “Long time no see, Katya”. The second is an extreme close up of a man’s eye with a clock face reflected in the iris, with the subtitle “Your time is up, Goncharov”. The third is a streetscape at dusk with the facades of buildings only slightly illuminated by light from yellow streetlamps. In the distance a clocktower can be seen, as well as statues on the eaves of rooftops, while in the foreground appears the dark silhouette of a man wearing a coat and a hat. The subtitle reads [muffled jazz music plays in the background]. The fourth is a close-up of a blonde woman’s face, on the right side of the screen looking left to something off-screen. She is upset and has smears of blood on her cheeks. Behind her the sea is visible as well as a half-moon. The subtitle reads “Sofia?””,”index”:14,”isTracking”:true,”isMainMedia”:false,”sourceDomain”:”assets.tumblr.com”}”>

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Has Scorsese got anything to say about this?

Not yet – it is hard to imagine Scorsese knows what Tumblr or shipping is, but I feel he could enjoy the enthusiasm around it all.

But Wonder Woman and all-time hottie Lynda Carter did post two black-and-white photos of herself and Henry Winkler captioned, “Me and ‘The Fonz’ at premiere of Goncharov (1973) at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.” The image is actually from the 1977 Golden Globe awards.

Even Tumblr itself has joined in, tweeting: “Goncharov was inexplicably ahead of it [sic] time and it’s contribution to cinema is remarkable. Rarely does a film tell as many diverse-yet-interconnected stories. Hard to imagine so few ppl have seen it.”

This week, Goncharov has been the No 1 trending topic on the platform. Scorsese was second.

https://old-pictures-of-bands.tumblr.com/post/701794389427683328/in-a-way-goncharov-1973-really-is-the-greatest

“,”alt”:”In a way Goncharov (1973) really is the greatest gangster movie ever made. There are thousands of people dreaming up their own versions of this movie. With more plot threads than could ever actually fit into a 2 hour movie. No actual film could ever compare to the imagination of a million strangers and that’s weirdly beautiful.”,”index”:22,”isTracking”:true,”isMainMedia”:false,”sourceDomain”:”assets.tumblr.com”}”>

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I guess the last question to answer is … why?

Like Ratatouille: The Musical (a fake musical based on the movie that eventually was actually made, after people began building on a single song posted on TikTok) and Demi Lovato’s twin sister, Poot Lovato (just a bad photo of the singer), people just seem to really enjoy coming together to pretend fake things are real. While that impulse can lead to, er, sinister things that seem to be in the news every day now, it also leads to sheer silliness – which, to my mind, should be enough of a reason to do anything.

But somehow along the way, Goncharov has become quite meaningful: complete strangers, from all around the world, forming a community to tell a story and flex their creative muscles – simply for the joy of the joke.

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