The Wolf Among Us
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is a tale for our generation
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 14:01
Although late to the party in 2013, Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” was a serious contender for movie of the year. It’s not without good reason, too. Smartly written, beautifully acted and darkly amusing, “Wolf” had many things going for it. One characteristic, however, left it a definitive film for our generation.
The flick is deeper than its premise—the narrative of a crooked, power-hungry Wall Street broker—lets on. Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is an ambitious young man. Like many of us here at NDSU, he’s looking to make a name, to leave a mark. It’s easy for the 20-somethings in the audience to immediately identify with him, but it becomes apparent that he’s far from an ideal role model. He’s cocky. He’s self-centered. He’s the best there is at conning money. And this is where it starts to get interesting.
Joining up with an unlikely business partner, Belfort’s journey begins. He starts with an earnest, small company and builds it into a functioning business. As his, and his associates’ morals deteriorate to penny-sized puddles, that business becomes an empire. Within years, Belfort has the world at his fingertips and gains literally more money than he can spend.
Around this point, the movie’s theme hits hard: What’s the price of power? Of money? We watch Belfort’s quality of life depreciate with horror during the three-hour film. That may be unusually long for a big-screen production, but “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a journey from start to finish. Moreover, though, it’s a parable for the current generation, and it makes for an amazing learning tool.
Greed, pride and superficiality are very cliché themes in entertainment. It almost always leads to the downfall of a villain. However, it’s rarely ever the downfall of the protagonist (even anti-heroes). Belfort’s journey may have clever, funny and entertaining moments throughout, but it is brutal to see how far he comes—and how far he falls. Under the same circumstances, it’s hard to say I wouldn’t fall in the same traps. In a society where money is everything, we may all have to choose wealth or morals.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” may be lengthy, but I would argue it’s necessary for this parable to take hold.
Incredibly frequent drug use and profanity might be a turnoff for Scorsese’s drama. I can say with confidence it has earned its R-rating, so it might not be for everyone. What “The Wolf of Wall Street” does best is showcase a man with talent who gets everything he’s ever wanted—which any college kid can relate to or hope for. In a few short hours, though, we see everything he’s earned get burned to the ground with no remorse. It’s a terrific movie, yes—and an even better tale of caution.