I always have my ear to the tracks to pick up the sounds of oncoming film analysis in the easy to digest package of video essay. Most are under 10 minutes long–easy for YouTube upload and a short attention span. But some films deserve much, much more. Martin Scorsese’s divisive The Wolf of Wall Street is one such film.
I am grateful to discover, then, that Milad Tangshir has constructed a deep look at Wolf, building off of the analysis offered by David Bordwell in essay form, comparing with the cinematics and themes of many of Scorcese’s other works as well as classics like Citizen Kane, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Psycho, and excerpting multiple interviews with Scorcese and his partners-in-filmmaking. Tangshir’s look is a full 30 minutes, allowing it to analyze the narration, the 5-part plot structure, cinematic structure, controversy, and theme.
I find myself especially grateful because the original blog posts by David Bordwell ran a bit over my head. Having Tangshir’s edit of visuals, both from Wolf and other complimentary films, to help explain the concepts apparently makes all the difference. The original essays Tangshir used as research for his piece can be found at David Bordwell’s site: “Understanding Film Narrative: The Trailer” and “Scorcese, ‘Pressionist”
This is Tangshir’s graduate thesis, and it shows the well-considered research and deep study of a graduate thesis while still being easy to take in and digest for a wide audience.
Highly recommended for fans of Scorcese, anyone who walked out of Wolf not sure what they thought of it, or those attempting to learn more about visual storytelling in film.