There has been a trend going on in Hollywood for a couple of years now. Many call it ‘the cinema of excess’. Basically, what this means is that productions are making more and more films about greed, about the lifestyle of rich people, about parties, about drugs, etc. Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is definitely that kind of movie and it’s probably the film that inspired the trend. The production is truly unique. By telling a story that’s in no way apologetic, that in no way strives to convey some lesson to the viewer, the film still succeeds in teaching. This all resolves around the character of Jordan Belfort and his undeniably amazing presentment.
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is unique in many ways, one of which is narrative. The film goes back and forth, flashback after flashback, while striving, and succeeding, to tell a coherent story. Throughout that narrative, we don’t really see the character of Jordan Belfort develop as a person. We start of by seeing Jordan Belfort as an already rich stock broker. Then we constantly flashback to his past to see how and when he got there. And that’s the whole idea of this unique narrative: Martin Scorsese is absolutely aware what kind of a person Jordan Belfort turns out to be and wants to present exactly that to the public. The first scene ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ presents us with the character’s final development. And that’s how Martin Scorsese wanted it to be.
True, you could argue that Jordan goes trough some development and is ultimately a better person at the very end of the film. That doesn’t matter. That’s not the main purpose of this film. If it was, there would be a whole arc about how and when Jordan changes, but there isn’t. It’s shown at the very end to give you some sort of relief. But the fact remains, the focus of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is to illustrate the ravishing lifestyle of Jordan Belfort.
The film is completely unapologetic about that. No one openly tells Jordan they think what he’s doing is wrong. More importantly, Jordan himself feels absolutely no remorse about his actions. He’s happy with he way he is, he’s happy doing what he does. The character doesn’t change. He has set himself a goal and does everything he can to achieve that goal throughout the movie. True, he does progresses in the sense that his actions are different, but that’s not character development. He doesn’t change his character, he changes his actions.
But wait. When young Jordan was offered cocaine, he said no. However, rich Jordan was doing cocaine all the time. Isn’t this character development? No. As we know, Jordan turns out good at the very end of the story and understands his mistakes. So, Jordan never changes to begin with. He doesn’t become a character who truly gets pleasure from doing cocaine 24/7. Jordan never truly developed, he was never truly the prick he was throughout most of the movie, that was just a mask. A mask put on by greed.
That is what Martin Scorsese is generally trying to teach us through this character. The main focus of this film is greed, obviously, and the main character is Jordan Belfort, so it’s natural that the two go hand in hand.
The character of Jordan Belfort is truly unique. He changes, but does not develop. Of course, that has happened many times in cinema, books, etc., but I can’t think of another film that made such an impression on me. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is extremely unapologetic about this character. He’s a guy taken by greed and you see how that turns his life around. Ultimately, his life sucks, but Jordan really seems to enjoy the little things. He’s having so much fun and truly enjoying life.
The genius thing that ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ does is that it doesn’t openly teach us a lesson. You see Jordan Belfort, you see his lifestyle, you subconsciously want to be him and you subconsciously like the life he’s living, and the film never tells you that there is anything wrong with that. However, you see where Jordan Belfort ultimately ends up and you pity him. You no longer want to be him. Through a uniquely presented character and brilliant story-telling, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ teaches you a lesson… without actually teaching you a lesson.
The final shot of this film is of a group of people watching and listening to Jordan Belfort. Through this, Martin Scorsese conveys the idea that we all have the potential to become Jordan Belfort. Greed lies in all of us. The director shows us where the character ends up and thus perfectly illustrates what could easily happen to absolutely anyone. Through presenting the character of Jordan Belfort so brilliantly, Martin Scorsese keeps the public from becoming like him.
What did you think of this? Do you like Jordan Belfort? Do you like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Don’t forget to like and share this article if you enjoyed it!
Thanks for reading,