Internet moviegoers have a new favorite movie. It is directed by Martin Scorsese and the action takes place in Naples. It features Robert DeNiro in the title role as a Russian hitman and Cybill Shepherd as his wife Katya. Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Harvey Keitel complete the cast. Billed as “Martin Scorsese Presents…”, the 1973 film has it all: a fast-paced plot, a love triangle, a mind-blowing soundtrack and several scenes that have been making audiences’ hair stand on end for years.
Ring a bell? Possibly not, because this movie doesn’t exist.
Goncharov is a totally invented movie, created by a community of Tumblr users that ended up leaking posts and memes to other platforms such as Twitter, TikTok or Reddit. Everything went haywire when a user created a masterfully Photoshopped poster showing some details of the film: the main cast, the names of the characters, the physical appearance of those characters (which are just the reunited actors from other movies) and the phrase: “Winter comes to Naples”. Needless to say, yes, people are already lining up to buy a print version of the poster.
The thing is not there. Alix Latta, a music teacher from Indiana, USA, composed a theme song for the film, a waltz inspired by the theme from The Godfather . Elena Asofsky, another artist, has created different fan arts inspired by the imaginary film and there are already posts on the Internet that summarize the plots of the film and include recycled images and GIFs from other films and series.
There is also a video game and a fake VHS. But the most incredible thing is that “academics” have written essays analyzing the film, which have been published in film magazines. An employee of Letterboxd, the film criticism platform, even commented that they have had to remove several reviews of the film on their website that users had sent.
The curious thing about all this phenomenon is that the “Goncharov” universe keeps getting bigger every day and there is no one who can stop it. Numerous outlets including Polygon, NBC, BuzzFeed, and even The New York Times have written about the film. The official Tumblr Twitter account has recognized that it is a masterpiece : “Goncharov was ahead of his time and his contribution to cinema is remarkable. Rarely does a film tell so many diverse but interconnected stories. It is hard to imagine that so few people have. seen,” they jokingly tweeted.
Some celebrities have wanted to join the pantomime: Ryan Reynolds published his favorite line from the film and Lynda Carter, the Wonder Woman star , published two black and white photos of her and Henry Winkler with the text: “Me and ‘The Fonz’ at the premiere of Goncharov (1973) at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The image is actually a photo of the two actors at the 1977 Golden Globes.
Everyone wants to participate in this charade, and make the meme come true . But you have to understand where the whole phenomenon comes from. Some users are linking Goncharov to an old image of a shoe posted by Tumblr user “zootycoon,” which was embroidered with a tag that read, “Greatest Mob Movie Ever Made. Martin Scorsese Presents: Goncharov.” It has been speculated that the typo on the shoe that spawned the entire internet story was meant to read Gomorrah, the 2008 Italian drama about the Naples mafia from director Matteo Garrone.
A meme come true
However, for the whole world Goncharov is already a Scorsese film and is tagged in the same genre as other masterpieces like The Godfather or Goodfellas . The plot, according to the collective imagination of the Internet, narrates the adventures of Goncharov, a former member of the Russian mafia who has given up his infamous life to settle with his wife Katya.
While in Naples, he is forced back into organized crime and meets a new rival named Andrey, also known as “The Banker.” He is also “sad boy” Mario and “Ice Pick Joe” (an American guy who kills people with an ice pick and wears an eyepatch). Lastly, there is Sofia, who forms a romantic bond with Katya.
Goncharov’s fandom even has some user favorite scenes, such as “the scene on the bridge” and “the one on the bus”. There’s even another scene where Katya tries to shoot Goncharov, reciting the famous line, “if we were really in love, I wouldn’t have missed.” Scenes that in reality, like the movie, do not exist. But the truth is that each of these scenes theoretically described on Internet forums could fit perfectly into a 2-3 hour gangster drama like The Godfather, The French Connection , or Chinatown.
At this point, it is very difficult to know what is real and what is false in all this phenomenon . But when you think about it, you realize how unlikely it would be that Scorsese would have made this movie. He was just a young director on the rise in 1973, with Mean Streets coming out that year and, although it contains some of the same cast, it’s a no-frills film set in Little Italy. Back then he was a long way from making the masterpieces he would later do like Taxi Driver or Casino.
The final icing was put by Scorsese’s own daughter, Francesca, who is also an actress and filmmaker. She posted a TikTok featuring Goncharov ‘s story and shared a screenshot of a text conversation between her and her father, saved as “Daddio” on her phone, asking him if he’s seen everything that’s been put together on around the Goncharov movement on the Internet. In response, and of course jokingly, Scorsese replies, “Yes. I made that movie years ago.” The meme was not going to die, of course.