According to the Treccani vocabulary, the concept of metanarrative corresponds to aliterary work in which the compositional structures of the narration are highlighted for stylistic reasons. Nowadays, perhaps, this definition is somewhat limiting. In fact, telling the process behind the story is no longer a prerogative of writing alone, but a possibility that also spreads to other types of narration. Among these, of course, cinema and seriality. How does a cinematic story set up? What are the stages, steps, difficulties and dynamics that come into play when you decide to give life to a film? What’s behind a product that condenses in an hour or two the emotion of an entire story? There are TV series that aim to tell this very story. And if in Italy we have an incredible example with Boriswhich takes us into the imaginary world but also more than realistic of the production of The eyes of the heartthe American The Offer instead he made us part of the real background of a film that made the history of cinema: The Godfather.
A jump into the past
The Offer is a miniseries in ten episodes that saw the light in April last year, available on Paramount+ and, if you subscribe to this, on Amazon Prime Video. The story, as mentioned, is focused on the production of the cult The Godfatherfilm adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name which was as loved by the public as hated by that part of Italian American community which he described in great detail. The character around which the narrative revolves the most is Albert “Al” Ruddy, played by Miles Teller, who is entrusted with the making of the film. Ruddy may not be the most experienced producer in Hollywood but he certainly doesn’t miss them neither resourcefulness nor courage, a quality that he must bring out on more than one occasion in the course of the series and its history. And to accompany him on the journey of a production as hindered as it is successful is his assistant Bettye, a very good Juno Temple who plays a sidekick to say the least necessary to the realization of the work.
The story behind the film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by the same Paramount that gave birth to the series is nothing short of turbulent and tangled. We are in the early seventies and the production house is trying to get out of a period of difficulty derived from several flops at the box office. After the success of Love Storythe management is looking for a new success that gets Paramount back on track and back on top of the industry. But if on the one hand making the making of the film difficult there are the power dynamics established in a controversial system like that of Hollywood, on the other hand, the mafia families of New York are starting to create much bigger problems. In fact, the mafia, the future protagonist of the film, does not look kindly on The Godfather and it is up to Al Ruddy to find a balance between different and often opposing needs, to give life to what he rightly begins to consider one of his creatures.
The Offer: on Amazon Prime Video between reality and fiction
The series visible on Amazon Prime Video goes beyond the “simple” concept of a story, inserting itself in that vein of metanarrative that makes it so particular and interesting. Watching the episodes we witness the creation of a story within a story: the birth of the script, the choice of actors, locations and lights, the preparation of a set and the composition of the scenes are all phases described in great detail by those who have been living them cyclically for decades now. Paramount talks about itselfwith its internal power games and the sick dynamics of a system that too often puts the will to power ahead of choices and creative needs. Al Ruddy goes to great lengths – in the truest sense of the term – to give Francis Ford Coppola what he needs to make his film a masterpiece. As we already know, the result can be said to be more than successful given that The Godfather won the beauty of three Oscars e cinque Golden Globes.
Ma The Offer it is also a story that contains its fair share of romance. The relationship that is created in the series between the executive producer of the film and the boss who first threatens him and then supports him seems to be quite different from what has been established between the two in reality. It is true that without compromising with Colombo the film probably would never have been made, but one thing is remove the word mafia from the film and another is to give life to a relationship – if not of real friendship – at least of mutual esteem. This has never been admitted, and if it were true it would probably not be known. But however things went, the fact that in order to make a film about the mafia one had to come to terms with the mafia it makes think.
But as the protagonists are keen to point out, The Godfather is not just a film about the mafia.
The Godfather it’s a movie that talk about the United States, the discrimination and recriminations that take place therein; a masterpiece that talks about immigrants and the place reserved for them in a society that considers itself open and democratic but which does not always prove to be so in practice. Likewise, The Offer is not just a series that tells the story of The Godfather. The Offer tells the distortions of a billionaire system, a system as necessary for the community as it is corrupt, which is explained to us from within with the possibility of looking at the ugliness that characterizes its most intimate essence. To do this he finds a brilliant expedient, that of the criticism of one’s pastbut to a careful look the past is nothing more than the mirror of a present equally rotten in its own way.
In short, if you have Amazon Prime Video or Paramount + and you are looking for a series to watch with one good dose of critical spirit, this can really be for you. It is true that in some stages, especially in the first episodes, the mafia is represented in an almost caricatured way does justice to the story, and it is also true that the novel sometimes seems to be the master. But Miles Teller, Juno Temple and the other cast members manage to take us to a dimension where we can perceive all the distortions, but which we have an incredible will to live equally from the inside. And if that isn’t an accomplished goal, then I just don’t know what is.
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