Unless you spent the past winter holiday season doing anything but surfing the Internet (!!!), chances are you’re aware that director Martin Scorsese’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street has gotten people fired up, with reactions spanning across the board – from proclamations of a new Scorsese masterpiece to cries that the filmmaker ought to be ashamed of the movie he’s made (a comment from a fellow member of the Academy, in the latter case).
Wolf of Wall Street stars current Scorsese muse Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, the real-life Wall Street tycoon who made millions of dollars swindling people into purchasing crap stocks and used the profits to fuel a life of excess for him and his co-workers – one that included a disgusting amount of drugs, prostitutes, expensive real estate, fancy cars and anything else you can imagine.
The immediate backlash had more to do with the film’s lewd content – the sheer number of f-bombs and quantity of graphic female nudity narrowly avoided an NC-17 - than its morally-offensive subject matter. However, since then the tide has begun to shift as more and more people have pushed the discussion to focus on what’s really important about Wolf of Wall Street – how it calls attention to a real-world philosophical cancer that has long crippled the U.S. economy.
Scorsese, as you can see from the video above, has reacted pretty much exactly how you would expect any respectable artist to respond – he’s just glad that the public has taken notice of his film and are passionately debating its merits upon its initial release (and not examining the movie’s impact several years after the fact, as was the case – to a degree – with other controversial Scorsese films that’ve been released over his decades-long career).
It’s always interesting to find out exactly what a filmmaker thinks of their work, and here is no exception. For example, as much as people continue to carry on about the ‘Super Quaaludes’ sequence in Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese is most proud of the showdown on Belfort’s yacht – where our protagonist plays the role of a James Bond villain, opposite straight-laced FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler). Likewise, the director’s words on whether or not the film is what you would call ‘funny’ offer food for thought.
Everyone from Wolf of Wall Street screenwriter Terence Winter to stars Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have defended the film against claims that it glorifies Belfort and his cronies, so it’s good that Scorsese has also weighed in at this stage. Many of the questions that surround this movie are worthy of the continued debate (ex: Is it a proper deconstruction of Belfort’s legacy? A successful/failed cautionary tale? Will it discourage or encourage Belforts in the making?), and with awards season underway the discussion won’t be losing steam in the near future.
For more from Scorsese on Wolf of Wall Street, read this Deadline interview.
What are your thoughts on The Wolf of Wall Street controversy? Your reaction to Scorsese‘s reaction to the whole thing? Let us know in the comments section!
The Wolf of Wall Street is now playing in theaters.
For the Screen Rant Underground Podcast team’s thoughts on the film, listen to our ‘Favorite Movies of 2013′ episode.