Martin Scorsese Addresses ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Controversy [Video]

Published 1 year ago by , Updated May 20th, 2014 at 9:00 am,

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).

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street 2013 Martin Scorsese Addresses Wolf of Wall Street Controversy [Video]

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.

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. Graphic female nudity?

    Thats the best kind of female nudity!

  2. To me this film did not glorify Belfort or the terrible things he did.Did I have fun along the way? Of course. Was I rooting for Belfort, absolutely not. At no point was I rooting for Leo’s character to succeed, except maybe at the very beginning. And Jonah Hill’s character was even more despicable than Belfort. To me, throughout the film the things these men do are reprehensible, reaching a climax when Leo punches his wife in the stomach. At that moment, everyone in my theater went silent. Nobody was laughing, and I’m sure nobody thought the things he was doing were okay. Also, early on in the film when they have the party where the band comes in, it’s very interesting how they have the girl who Leo says he is giving $10K to get her head shaved. The camera’s only on her for a couple seconds, but she looks completely humiliated and even terrified at the situation she’s been put into. If everyone was expecting to see all the victims who have their money taken from them and be able to sympathize with them, that’s not the movie you’re seeing. I think you’re seeing a movie about addiction and excess that DOES show how awful these people are.

    • And the Quaalude scene was hilarious.

      • The Qualudes scene had me laughing so hard…..priceless

      • I saw nothing amusing about the Quaalude scene.
        I know it was “meant to be” amusing…
        I get that..
        but it’s impossible [for me] to laugh at a scene that “takes lightly”

        * Epilepsy & the disabled – [not a joke]
        * Driving Under the Influence – [Also not a joke]
        * Drug addiction – [see points #1 & #2]

        I cringed the whole time.
        I even found it slightly distasteful that they had the Popeye cartoon on while he was “inspired” to snort some coke & save his “friend” who was near dying, choking on the floor.

        the big “funny reveal” about his Lamborghini, when he thought he had gotten home free without incident, and it turns out he didn’t, that was supposed to illicit laughter, and it did, in my theatre, but all I could think about was how many cars did he hit on the way home, and how many people did he “almost kill”.

        Like I said in another comment section, I found the first hour amusing, but I was soon turned off by the whole “bad behavior & nonchalance”..
        so much so, that It became impossible for me to laugh…

        Once can make the argument that Goodfellas, and other Scorsese movies, have sex, violence, and bad behavior,
        but for me personally, about an hour of “bad behavior” could have been left out of this movie, and we’d still have gotten the point without the overwhelming feeling of repulsion that “stretching it out to 3 hours” did to me.

        • i think you need to show it to have a greater impact then cutting all the “uncomfortable” parts out of it otherwise it gets glossed over and doesn’t have as big a impact on the end of the movie

          • @::..:….:::::..

            I see what you’re saying, and I made the same argument you’re making for 12 years, it works in that instance.
            I’m not saying cut out the scenes I found “uncomfortable”, I don’t believe I used that word at all, what I’m saying is it was “gratuitous”, and unnecessary… we got the point after the first hour, and I found the ending to be anti-climatic…
            for instance, in 12 years, we needed to see all he went through for the emotional “freedom” scene, and “family” scenes..

            but in this scene.. what was the payoff at the end?
            him becoming a motivational speaker?

            did he change his life, and dedicate the rest of his years to redemption & forgiveness?
            there’s no “emotional payoff” at the end.

            the whole thing was anti-climatic [for me]
            cut out 30 minutes of the hookers & drugs, and we’re not glossing over the story, sure, leave some in.. I’m just saying it got repetitive… and didn’t add anything to the story after seeing more drug use or more hookers for the 7th or 8th time


            though, I do appreciate the class which with you’ve phrased your opinion \ disagreement with mine.

            • “did he change his life, and dedicate the rest of his years to redemption & forgiveness?
              there’s no “emotional payoff” at the end.”

              i might be wrong but that might be the point…it leaves you wondering what the consequences are if any

              • I agree… its something of a cautionary tale. Belfort gets into a lot of trouble towards the end of the film, he gets out of it, then he’s giving the motivational speech at the end. I thought that was a fantastic ending.

                Its also interesting to consider what that final scene tells about society in general. Belfort intrigues us, he engaged in all sorts of debauchery but we’ll still attend his moticational seminars. We’ll listen to him and base our business tactics off his rhetoric knowing all about the laws he broke and the people he cheated.

                It really made me think.

                To me that’s a good ending.

                • same here man…i want to watch it again, one of those movies you can catch new things each viewing

        • Don’t go to movies anymore. You’ve missed the point. People like you would have us in a situation where the only movies that could be made would show a blank white canvas, and even that would be considered racist or there would be some other reason or cause that it offended.

        • I can understand you’re opinion, though I don’t agree with it all the way through. One thing, is I don’t take that scene as playing epilepsy and the disabled as a joke. The points where he is writhing on the floor are actual side effects of an overdose of such a drug (and considering how many they took, combined with the drinking, I think you can consider that an overdose). Seizures, serious loss of control of motor functions, these are side effects of taking alot of Quaaludes (and other drugs).

          • I agree with this and all other comments that it was necessary to show those things, despite the movie not releasing here until January 17th and me not personally watching the film yet.

  3. Are people still really getting upset about the usage of the F word? Really? Aren’t we all grown ups watching this movie?

  4. Django Unchained didn’t get this much negative focus for the N word…that was much more offensive. They’re mad that Scorsese is probably THE best director of the past 40 years and they want him to fail. Not only that but the film was released in time for the Oscars right?

  5. I have no sympathy for greed of the investors. They are greedy too! Graphic female nudity you say? Just bring it!

  6. I thought this movie was very fun and well done. But, then again I never dislike anything Scorsese makes, especially with Leo in the lead role. He is such a great actor, and is amazing that he has not won an oscar and I’m sure the Academy will snub him again.

  7. Kofi recently wrote an article on why he’s happy about the backlash. Sandy says some people are recognizing how the film calls “attention to a real-world philosophical cancer that has long crippled the U.S. economy.”

    WoWS is like a first hand account of the documentary Inside Job, Kofi mentioned that in his article. Its about time people pay attention to the issue.

    Aside from that I found WoWS to be a stellar movie. It was very entertaining. Leo and the rest of the cast were all great. I enjoyed the LUUUUUDES!! sequence. Funny stuff.

    I think its silly to criticize the film for its purported “glamorization” of Wall Street. If you fault WoWS for glamorizing Wall Street, then by the same logic you could condemn Goodfellas for glamorizing the mob, or American Hustle, or 12 yrs a Slave for its depiction of slavery, or any number of films.

  8. Scorsese is the man! I loved Wolf of Wallstreet. I honestly don’t know what the big deal is about the movie…it’s a movie. At the end of the day it’s for entertainment purposes. Is the material based on truth? Sure. But it’s still for entertainment. If someone has issues with the ‘content’ within the film, then do your homework and research what the movie is about, then make a choice of whether to watch it or not. Simple.

  9. The wows was a great movie! I took the extravagant lifestyle that Leo had as a commentary to how these people live there lives. These people are denied nothing and believe that they can do anything because they have money and money is what everybody is after! We see at the end scene that all Leos character has now is his ability to sell, no family, no huge fortune. He’s changed, instead of doing big speeches he’s more cynical. I found this out in the way Leo carries himself out on the stage and how he says to the guy in the chair sell me this pen. He says it differently than he said it before. His overall demeanor is different.

  10. I’ve never heard Scorsese talk, he seems like such a nice guy. :)

  11. I’d love to see this movie win a bunch of Oscars but I’d be pretty surprised if it won Best Picture or Best Director.
    Leo stands a shot at Best Actor because we’ve seen actors or actresses win for portraying flawed characters but when it comes time for the big prize the Academy tends to favor films that they deem more acceptable and without controversy.

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