Wednesday, January 1, 2014

G.K. Chesterton Reviews Martin Scorsese's Movie, "The Wolf Of Wall Street"

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.



"The Wolf of Wall Street's" Wikpedia Entry: 


"The Wolf of Wall Street"
reviewed by James Berardinelli


Alan: To celebrate the New Year, Steve Dear and I saw "The Wolf of Wall Street." 

People with enough "stomach" to contemplate the calamity of greed agree that Wall Street's "finest" are immersed in an interlocking matrix of addiction, avarice and lust, all three climaxing in America's Festival of Mammon. (See "Inside Job" - with Spanish subtitles - at

Chesterton cuts to the bone: "You’ve got that eternal, idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists." The Man Who Was Thursday, 1908. (Notably, the protagonist of "Wolf of Wall Street" flees the reach of justice aboard his yacht.)

What Chesterton does not mention (and perhaps was too populist to admit) is that "everyday people" are naifs, and in their naivete presume that "job creators" (and the unbridled bankers/brokers who shower them with easy money) perform an indispensable service.  

According to "the received Denial," the movers and shakers who glove The Invisible Hand are essentially good people despite their inevitable pecadilloes.

In the view of "common folk," "The Fabulously Rich" are neither dissolute, degenerate nor reprobate.

In fact, Wall Street brokers, investment bankers, and hedge fund managers are so suffused by dissolution and degeneracy that "commoners," afflicted with common vices, cannot bring themselves to look squarely at the grotesque depersonalization and zoological reification perpetrated by their wealthy heroes.

Americans are greedy, acquisitive people. 

Most of us believe that "The Winning Ticket" is within our reach and that the ensuing rain of riches will bless our lives rather than blight them.

Most of us consider ourselves prudent, virtuous "Christians." 

But in our heart of hearts (where we cannot serve two masters) we pine for the intrinsic disproportion - and accompanying destabilization - of fabulous wealth.

Greed is the signal sin of our age. Yet we act as if it no longer figures among the "Seven Deadly's." 

Once we realize that none of The Seven -- -- can be struck from the list, we begin to see the deadly peril in which we have placed our culture and ourselves.

I recommend "The Wolf of Wall Street."

Do not let the bacchanal that occupies the film's first third mislead you into thinking that "Wolf" is pornographic. 

The debauched beginning is necessary prelude to Scorsese's depiction of selfish pleasure -- taken to addictive extremes -- as the putrescent antipode of Joy.

In effect, "The Wolf of Wall Street" reminds us that Joy is not -- nor can it ever be -- an accumulation of pleasures; indeed, the persistent pursuit of self-seeking pleasure is among the shortest routes to hell.

Director Martin Scorsese began adulthood as a Jesuit seminarian. 

"The Wolf of Wall Street" is moral theology at its best.

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