Since the film’s release this past Christmas, The Wolf of Wall Street has proven to be a font of controversy in popular discourse; while it’s a clear winner among critics, Martin Scorsese’s story of excess and greed has wound up on the butt-end of widespread (but not universal) audience condemnation, and been decried for graphic sex, full-frontal nudity, a curse-ridden script, rampant debauchery, reckless drug use, and – perhaps most significant of all – appearing to glorify the self-indulgent lifestyle enjoyed by protagonist Jordan Belfort and his stock broker cronies at the expense of their fellow man’s well-being.
To an extent, The Wolf of Wall Street‘s detractors have a point: the film really does go over the top in each of these departments, though for admittedly artistic and thematic reasons. Yet despite all of the outrage over Scorsese’s work (which we argue is a good thing), American audiences have nonetheless had the privilege of enjoying (so to speak) the film’s full theatrical cut without having the MPAA meddle with it on the back-end. It’s true that Marty had to cut The Wolf of Wall Street down to duck an NC-17 rating, but his movie has progressed through theaters unopposed by censors since its opening day.
The same cannot be said for the film outside of the US, however; according to The Hollywood Reporter, The Wolf of Wall Street has run into quite a few roadblocks overseas, with some countries affecting minor to notable cuts and others banning it outright from showing in theaters. While The Wolf of Wall Street has been making impressive bank in Europe – notably in France, Poland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark – and has done even better business domestically, its early ventures into Asian and Middle Eastern markets has thus far met with a decidedly shakier reception.
Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise, given the nature of The Wolf of Wall Street‘s content; this is a film that’s bound to run into interference from more conservative governments, just by virtue of being so unapologetically amoral and ruthlessly vulgar. (Maybe the greater surprise is that Wolf hasn’t totally flopped at home.) Thus far, only a pair of countries, Malaysia and Nepal, have put the kibosh on The Wolf of Wall Street showing up in theaters within their borders, while India, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates have each cut anywhere from a handful of scenes or lines, to upwards of nearly an hour from the picture’s running time.
Other nations, like Singapore, have slapped The Wolf of Wall Street with ratings that prevent younger audiences from attending. In the case of the Lion City, though, such measures haven’t prevented Scorsese’s movie from taking the number one spot at the box office.
What’s causing the most upset in these regions? There’s one particular orgy among the countless bacchanals that take place within the narrative that’s on the chopping block, not to mention Jonah Hill’s ‘ludes-fueled reaction at meeting Margot Robbie’s character for the first time. India’s film regulatory board also blocked a pejorative line about nuns due to specific rules that require all religions be properly respected in cinema.
All of these developments were inevitable; eventually, The Wolf of Wall Street was going to get hit by censors (harder in some areas than others, mind). This isn’t the type of film that’s going to slip by watchdogs unnoticed, whether they’re government-employed or members of a supervisory body. In point of fact, as we’ve seen to date, it’s a film that’s practically designed to spark uproar – though perhaps not necessarily the kind of furor that’s been boiling over in print and online, recently. After all, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese have both defended it on separate occasions; they know that it’s an upsetting movie, but that’s also part of the point.
Does editing The Wolf of Wall Street and cherry-picking the most egregious scenes then, miss that point? Almost certainly. But as the Golden Globe-winning film makes its way into other territories, this sort of treatment shouldn’t be entirely unexpected.
What do you think, Screen Ranters? Is The Wolf of Wall Street deserving of a good, ethical trimming, or should it (and art like it) be taken as it is?
The Wolf of Wall Street is now playing in theaters.