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Michael Corleone embraces another man in a threatening manner at a New Year’s party in The Godfather Part II. Image: Paramount Pictures

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‘Martin Scorsese’s lost film’ Goncharov (1973), explained

Here’s where to find the little-known movie

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Naples, Italy. Right after the fall of the Soviet Union. A man runs through the cobblestone streets, his hands stained with blood. An American drives an ice pick through the eyes of a screaming victim before he collapses and cries. A blond woman in a fur coat takes a long drag from a cigarette, blowing a cloud of smoke in the face of her dearest friend, who is also her most bitter enemy. A clock ticks and ticks and ticks before letting out an echoing chime. They’re out of time. They’ve been out of time since the beginning.

This is Goncharov (1973), the “Martin Scorsese film” that Tumblr users have found themselves obsessed with. The reason you haven’t heard of it before is because the movie doesn’t actually exist. Tumblr users have simply gone in so deep with the inside joke that they’ve created a convincing poster, lore, and tons of reblogs for this fictitious film. It’s a level of enthusiasm that makes the film seem like it’s real (even though it definitely isn’t).

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) aims a gun in Taxi Driver Image: Columbia Pictures

What is Goncharov (1973)?

It’s only the best mafia movie ever made. Tumblr user thefiresontheheight says that Goncharov (1973) is one of Scorsese’s earlier films, though it never got an official release and was unfortunately snubbed at awards, turning it into a work of lost media. It was actually based on a little-known book trilogy, says user inthefallofasparrow, though Scorsese updated the setting for contemporary times — OK, sorry, my editor is telling me I need to be serious.

Goncharov (1973) is a fake Scorsese film that Tumblr users have spun up and created an enormous web of inside jokes around. It all started with a weird label that advertised “The Greatest Mafia Movie Ever Made Martin Scorsese Presents Goncharov” on a pair of knockoff boots owned by a Tumblr user. The original post is actually pretty old, but inexplicably started to pick up traction on the weekend of Nov. 19. User Beelzeebub created a poster for this nonexistent movie that listed some main characters and actors — particularly actors that Scorsese has worked with in previous films — and a vague setting. From there, everyone decided to play along in some giant, cinematic online LARP.

So, uh, what is the plot of Goncharov (1973)?

Former discotheque owner Goncharov comes to Naples, Italy, after the fall of the Soviet Union and gets embroiled in the world of organized crime. He ends up crossing paths with Andrey, a banker. The two have a lot of sexual tension going on, to the point where many believe that all the deaths would be prevented if they just fucked. Meanwhile, his unsatisfied wife, Katya, must come to terms with her father’s death as she becomes entangled with a mysterious woman named Sofia.

There’s also a dude named Ice Pick Joe. He kills people with ice picks. That may be a metaphor for mental health issues. There’s also a lot of clock motifs. Fans are compiling a Google doc to keep track of the ever-growing lore of the movie.

What are people... doing with Goncharov (1973)?

Across every corner of Tumblr, people are playing along. Sometimes this means posting about the fake scenes the way they would post about a real movie or show they’re excited about. Other posts are long meta-analyses of scenes that don’t exist and characters that are not real. There are also screenshots photoshopped to look like frames of the movie; aesthetic moodboards; fan art of the characters; memes about the movie; and Letterboxd reviews. People composed the movie’s score. Someone edited Riverdale scenes so that the characters reference the movie.

Hell, even Lynda Carteryes, the Lynda Carter — started playing along.

It’s Tumblr at peak Tumblr — users creating the same sort of content they would about a real movie or show, and gushing about it in the same way, only this time the movie is fake and everyone is going along with an inside joke. It’s the “yes, and” of social media platforms, one where the latest meme isn’t just a copy-and-paste format or image, but one that taps into a desire to create and share. That is the beauty of Tumblr.

Why do we care about Goncharov (1973)?

Here’s the thing: Tumblr latches onto a new weird phenomenon every couple of months and then commits so wholeheartedly to the bit that it completely saturates the platform. No one outside of Tumblr ever really realizes it, because most people wrote off Tumblr as dead after the NSFW ban. But Tumblr has been pretty active this entire time — especially when it comes to inside jokes. For instance, just a few months ago, a bunch of users decided to pretend that Pirates of the Caribbean had a canonical gay divorce, and everyone just rolled along with it.

Robert De Niro in Cape Fear with blood on his face Image: Universal Pictures

But because of the recent tumult at Twitter, many people are reactivating their old Tumblr blogs and starting to pay attention to Tumblr’s wonderfully weird and utterly batshit (I say this with love) meme ecosystem for the first time in years. Tumblr jokes do trickle off onto Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, but usually with more of a buffer period — and by then, Tumblr has moved onto the next strange oddity. But with all eyes on Tumblr right now, this time it was fast-tracked.

Where can I watch Goncharov (1973)?

Goncharov (1973) is available to stream inside your mind. JK — the best way to enjoy Goncharov (1973) is to make a Tumblr account, follow some blogs, and let the internet do its thing. If you’re feeling really inclined, you can try to play along. But don’t worry too much about trying to keep track of all the “lore.” The best way to use Tumblr — or any social media platform, for that matter — is to not take things too seriously. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the greatest mafia movie never made.