The Many Saints of Newark Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel to the acclaimed TV series The Sopranos (The Sopranos Clan). The actions of the movie, released on the HBO Max service, take place in the 1960s-1970s. Just at that time Tony Soprano was in school and listened to the opinion of Dicky Moltisanti, in whom he saw his mentor.

The Many Saints of Newark movie meaning

Genre crime drama
Directed by Alan Taylor
Starring Michael Gandolfini (Tony Soprano), Alessandro Nivola (Dickie Moltisanti), Vera Farmiga (Livia Soprano), Jon Bernthal (Johnny Soprano), Corey Stoll (Junior Soprano), Leslie Odom Jr. (Harold McBrayer), Ray Liotta (“Hollywood Dick” / “Sully”), Billy Magnussen (Paulie Galtieri), and more.
Chase Films, HBO Films, Warner Bros. Studios.
Year of release 2021
IMDb Sites

The series The Sopranos appeared in 1999. It became one of the cult multi-episode projects that managed to change television. The drama about the Italian mafia from New Jersey came out at a good time, when the audience was saturated with one-size-fits-all sitcoms. The main character of the series was noticeably different from other television characters, which could not go unnoticed – Tony Soprano in the brilliant performance of actor James Gandolfini headed a criminal business, engaged in murder and in every way concealed that he has panic attacks.

At first glance, The Sopranos seemed to be a witty series with a strong word, which showed details from the life of the “family” of mobsters. But as the plot developed, it became clear that it was a serious drama with full-fledged development of characters, from whom one should not expect unambiguously good deeds.

The last episode of The Sopranos aired in 2007, becoming the final episode for season 6. Despite the cliffhanger ending, the series was complete and quite understandable. The value of the series is evidenced by the fact that over the years The Sopranos has not been forgotten at all: it has new fans, it was devoted to detailed reviews, and for the 20th anniversary of the project the Today show gathered the actors of the project to remember the best moments from the filming (James Gandolfini was not present at the reunion – the actor passed away in 2013).


It seemed that after the death of James Gandolfini, no one would talk about other projects related to The Sopranos. However, the showrunner David Chase agreed to write a script for a feature-length movie – so a prequel about young Tony Soprano appeared. He was played by James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini (perhaps it was the only right choice of actor for this role). Contrary to expectations, young Tony Soprano does not become a prominent character in the movie, he remains in the shadows for a long time, watching the man he considers a mentor.

The plot centers around the life of the man Tony calls his uncle – this is Dicky Moltisanti (the character did not appear in the TV series, Soprano only talks about him with great respect). Dicky looks at the young wife of his wealthy father, is actively involved in the family business and at times loses control of himself.

The plot of the movie takes place in 1967, when riots begin in Newark on the background of racial intolerance (the script is based on a real case from the history of the city). The reason for the protests was the arrest of a dark-skinned cab driver, who, according to rumors, was beaten to death. A large crowd gathered outside the police station and moved from peaceful slogans to activism, throwing stones at windows. These events have little impact on the life of the mafia clan, but they become the impetus for the development of a new character Harold McBrayer – a dark-skinned man who worked with Dicky Moltisanti.


Fans of the series will probably be disappointed that The Many Saints of Newark focuses too much on Harold McBrayer instead of focusing on long familiar characters. Thus, Tony Soprano doesn’t show his rebellious nature until near the end of the movie, and other familiar characters recede into the background. Alas, Dicky Moltisanti also fails to make an interesting protagonist who could inspire a future leader.

Naturally, for fans of The Sopranos in the tape left a lot of references to the nuances of the series. For example, there are difficulties in the relationship between Tony Soprano and his mother (in the movie she is played by Vera Farmiga), the signature swearing of Junior Soprano and the voice-over of the dead Christopher Moltisanti.The film even features the song “Woke Up This Morning”, but this does not help the movie to approach the atmosphere of The Sopranos.

The Many Saints of Newark (that’s a play on words, by the way, consonant with Moltisanti’s last name) is a quality and well-directed work that captures the spirit of the late 60s. Alas, this is not enough, the tape is very, very far from the features of the series, so watching the prequel may end in disappointment. This is what happens when producers decide to slow down a good story that doesn’t need any additions.


James Gandolfini’s son as a young Tony Soprano; references tailor-made for fans of the series; good performances

The atmosphere of the movie is far from the series; the picture devotes time to new characters who are not in the mafia; Dicky Moltisanti does not make an interesting protagonist


The lead is likely to disappoint fans of The Sopranos.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top