It’s the greatest mafia movie ever made, an early masterpiece by one of the greatest directors to ever live, and it also doesn’t exist. That’s right, Tumblr has been obsessed recently with Goncharov, and entirely fictional movie that Martin Scorsese supposedly made in 1973 in collaboration with his frequent partner Robert De Niro.
The film, which was supposedly little seen upon its release, starred De Niro as “a former discotheque owner who comes to Naples after the fall of the Soviet Union,” according to Tumblr. Now, the timeline doesn’t really line up here, but of course, that’s not actually the point. Goncharov co-starred a number of other screen legends, including Gene Hackman as Valery Michailov, Al Pacino as Mario Ambrosini, and Harvey Keitel as Andrei “The Banker” Daddano, who has an eye patch, because why not. It’s a fake film, but one that has become an obsession in some corners of the internet recently.
A few years ago, a Tumblr user uploaded a photo of some strange bootlegs they had gotten. Amongst the collection was a film that purported to be Goncharov. “The greatest mafia movie ever made. Martin Scorsese presents GONCHAROV,” the tag read. “Domenico Proccacci production. A film by Matteo JWHJ0715. About the Naples Mafia.”
At the time, nobody really noticed the post, but a few years later in 2020, it was reposted by another user who wrote above the first post that “this idiot hasn’t seen goncharov.”
From there the fake movie title slowly built up steam until a few weeks ago, when a Tumblr user named beelzeebub made a fake poster for the movie. The poster started getting shared, and it has now become one of the defining obsessions of the second half of 2022. It’s all a fabrication of Tumblr, but those who are pretending the movie exists are really, really committed to the bit.
Goncharov doesn’t just have a poster; it also has a variety of other fan-made materials that could confuse you into thinking the movie is real. There are memes about the movie, a variety of additional posters, and even drawn fan art of their favorite scenes or “ships” from the movie (it wouldn’t be Tumblr without plenty of fan art and “ships”).
On top of these online artifacts, there is also a fake VHS and an accompanying video game and soundtrack to this fake movie. Essentially, some people have decided to cash in and sell their own products based on a movie that didn’t actually exist. We also got a variety of pseudo-academic essays that were actually written and then published in fake film journals, analyzing the film and all of its deeper meanings. Users on Letterboxd, the social media site dedicated to film reviews, even made an effort to get the film reviewed on the platform to no avail. Goncharov is pretty omnipresent in the culture for a movie that never actually existed.
Martin Scorsese, who it’s worth noting has a daughter named Francesca with a semi-prominent TikTok presence, even addressed Goncharov himself in November. In one of his daughter’s TikToks, Francesca posted a screenshot of a text conversation she had had with her father about the movie. This video came after another one in which Francesca had dived deep into all of the details around this fake film.
In the text exchange, Francesca asks her father if he has seen a recent New York Times article that outlines all the details around the film and how it came to be. In response, Scorsese simply says “Yes. I made that film years ago.” Scorsese, who is also saved as “Daddio” in Francesca’s phone, seems to be very aware of the stories around Goncharov, and is actively playing them up himself.
Tumblr itself also weighed in, tweeting that “Goncharov was inexplicably ahead of its time and [its] 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.”
The bit has taken over everything.
There’s no huge, deeper meaning behind Goncharov. Like Ratatouille: The Musical before it, it’s just something that the internet decided should be real, even though it obviously is not. Ratatouille: The Musical eventually transformed into an actual online musical, but it remains to be seen whether Goncharov will chart a similar path.
Martin Scorsese is hard at work on Killers of the Flower Moon, which is set to be released in 2023, and he’s working with De Niro on that, so both of them are tied up. Unfortunately, it may be more difficult to make Goncharov a reality than it would be to produce something like a Ratatouille musical.