My favorite part of reading or watching any story, whether based on a true story or not, is always finding the moral of the story. For some stories, the moral is pretty obvious. For others, there may be several morals, which can all be just as well fitting for said story. And yet others may not seem to have a moral that revolves around human flaw or example, but if you dig deep enough, you’ll always find one. For this article, I’ll be focusing more on the stories themselves, and the writing and portraying of the moral, than the acting or cinematography. And if you haven’t seen any of the following movies (or haven’t read the books that they are based on), go right now and do that. Now. Ok, just kidding, go after you read my moral interpretations.
1.) Into the Wild
Christopher McCandless’s journey of abandoning society to seek truth speaks to independent, spiritually motivated part of me that I’m sure we all have somewhere within us. The powerful narrative of his life’s journey was what motivated me to watch Into the Wild’s movie adaptation after initially reading the book. I was especially enthralled by the ending of the story. As he lay in his bus, facing his inevitable death, McCandless had an epiphany: in his plan to escape society and all human relationships to find true happiness, he had lost what really brings happiness. Essentially, does it matter if you have found peace within yourself, but have nobody around you to share it with? In his quest to find what really matters, McCandless had given up friends, family, and friends that became family. Seeking truth and having friends to confide it in are not mutually exclusive.
2.) The Wolf of Wall Street
I can admit I’ve read one too many reviews on this cult classic, and nobody seems to agree on the meaning. Some have said it glorifies Wall Street culture, while others have said it is a grotesque critique of Wall Street and everything it stands for. Some have said it simply goes to show what kinds of shady practices you must embrace if you want to achieve the American Dream of mega-wealth and don’t have the connections. While these interpretations are all well-fitting of the movie, I say one theme can fit it overall: getting caught up in the perks of success instead of focusing on creating more is what will lead to your ultimate demise. Oh, and when they say win at any cost, they probably don’t mean by breaking laws.
3.) The Big Short
The cinematic masterpiece on the financial collapse of 2008 probably has sent more messages about how to invest safely than anything else. By reminding us of the terrifyingly uncertain reality that many of us lived through, director Adam McKay was able to create a story that probably has us all wishing we were in on the side of Hedge Fund Manager Michael Burry. It’s hard to find a moral that is all encompassing of this story, as there are so many things to be learned from the irresponsibility of both the American consumer and lender during that period in time. However, irresponsibility from both sides is what did lead to the collapse after all. I guess I’ll have to steal a line from the original Spiderman movie: With great power comes great responsibility. While the average American consumer is probably not financially responsible, those who had the power of strong financial knowledge didn’t do much to prevent the coming collapse, even when they did see it coming.