Martin Scorsese’s Greed Trilogy: ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Casino,’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

The master filmmaker and a deadly sin.
scorsese greed Wolf Of Wall Street
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on June 23rd, 2017

There aren’t any official trilogies in the filmography of Martin Scorsese, though you could consider The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, and Silence to be a spiritual trilogy of sorts, and then there’s the Robert DeNiro gangster trilogy of Mean Streets, Goodfellas, and Casino, but according to video essayist Bora Barroso, those latter two films also form a trilogy with one of Scorsese’s more recent hits, The Wolf of Wall Street.

The basis here would be thematic, how each of these three films looks at the corrupting power of greed. In Goodfellas, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) is a mobster on the rise until his involvement with excess – women, murder, drugs – knocks him off course; in Casino, Sam Rothstein (DeNiro) watches his empire crumble after his lady love, Ginger (Sharon Stone) gets used to the finer things in life; and in Wolf, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes to more and more extreme lengths to procure wealth, and more and more extreme depths to spend it. In the end, each of these men has fallen, in a sense, from the pedestal on which they placed themselves, and greed is what pulls them down.

According to Bora Barroso’s latest comparative compilation, Scorsese surreptitiously links The Wolf of Wall Street to Goodfellas and Casino by replicating or playing off shots from the latter two films in the former, and here, setting the films side-by-side, he shows you just how and where. Like I mentioned, some are more obvious than others, visually, while some evoke the same sort of emotions or atmosphere, but all paint the same picture of men whose rises and collapses are based on the same deadly sin: greed.

For more essays celebrating the work of Martin Scorsese check out a video on how he’s a master of the voice-over and an article on how he perfected the movie soundtrack.

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Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist