The Morals of The Wolf of Wall Street

Posted: March 4, 2014


Through black comedy, The Wolf Of Wall Street satirizes landmarks in Belfort’s laughable, albeit at times pathetic, life. The film engages in the wider conversation encircling humanity’s greed and mirrors society’s moral compasses; it tracks humanity’s evolution and how this bears on the human race’s actions and moral instincts.

Scorsese lines events through a metaphorical rollercoaster for everything, and everyone, Belfort has swept up on his way. The compilation of drugs, prostitution, and other sensual pleasures pave the way for the primitive animal Belfort evolves into- it is drawn all over DiCaprio’s facial expression right from the opening scene.

The black comedy mocking a broker’s weak physical and emotional resistance is shown as he is lured by his wife Naomi, her aunt Emma and some five prostitutes weekly. Eventually the discussion surrounding this aspect of Belfort’s life reaches a tedious stage as I was repeatedly confronted with monotonous cycles of Belfort’s lust and love life.

The plot is outraged, twice, as Belfort interrupts his explanation of a financial scam only to dictate to the viewer that their mind would be more stimulated with further outrageous instances of porn and drugs. In this way, the mentality and intelligence of the viewer is insulted twice. The film disappoints through its failure to incorporate any depth or insight into the dealing of inner circle Wall Street criminals, and it is doubly disappointing coming from Scorsese, a man who has previously presented richer insight in the past.

Belfort’s fall from grace and the dramatic shift in his circumstances simply continue to prove his static outlook and position toward the wider conversation on morality the film engages as a whole. His poignant divorce scene prompts Belfort’s “Wolf” nature when he resorts to beating Naomi.

On losing Stratton Oakmont, Belford is gifted an accolade, with his speech sketching him as an icon rising beyond economic depression and securing of interests. Take away all the drama and you will be facing a classic scenario where the means of embezzlement and fraud justify Belfort’s very existence as an icon.

Toward the very end, the film continues to mirror societal decay and the flaws surrounding human existence. Regardless of Belfort’s prison sentence, he does not identify with the resolution consuming him, proclaiming: “I lived in a place [prison] where everything was for sale, wouldn’t you like to learn how to sell it?”- prompting his nature as a broker infinitely.

Belfort’s final scene is a continuation of his first scene where Brad skilfully demonstrates how to sell a pen. This begs the question whether the Wolf’s moral compass or outlook have changed by any means; Belfort is proudly showcasing the pen in question as if it’s his personal Olympic torch.

The final scene skilfully touches on the present day through incorporating the real life Jordan Belfort introducing the fictional DiCaprio version of himself. This brings to witness a glaring reflection on today’s society. Scorsese incorporates a trademark bold statement: the graduate, socially privileged attendees in Belfort’s sales seminar fail to provide a sales technique comparable to Brad’s passionate and brilliant one; although he is a simple minded man. In this way, the film illustrates a mind-set focussed on surviving and overcoming  social circumstances, which places an even greater question on whether Belfort or his accomplices are victims of their societal background, or whether they remain culprit brokers.