Oliver Stone on fathers and children

My daughter and I watched Oliver Stone’s Wall Street:Money Never Sleeps on pay-per-view last night and maybe the best moment in this story of Gordon Geko’s return came in the very first scene.  As he is released from 8 years in prison for illegal financial dealings, his personal belongings are returned to him. The clerk reads off each item, key ring, gold money clip (empty), watch, mobile phone(!) and the camera pans to a huge device only one step newer than the original bag phone. It is not a spoiler to tell you that he catches up to the times quickly after he is out.

There is however to ponder, while we trudge through the predictable stuff, the simple theme of a daughter who hates her father. She blames for him for the dissolution of their family and especially for the death of her addicted brother while Gekko was in prison. In one scene he tells her of all the things he tried to help his son, which she didn’t know of course, but she still believes that if he had been there it would have been different.

Children will identify with her and parents will, sadly but clearly, side with Gekko for it is the universal dichotomy. The perspective of youth versus age, of the future alongside the past or simply who has time to think about what. Apropos of this standoff, Ustinov is quoted “Parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth.” I guess the screenwriter thought it too trite to use the Bette Davis line: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent” but you get the point.

It is really not complicated and Gekko says this pretty clearly when he talks about “we are all human” and thus there is no simple explanation for our personalities or our behavior. Maybe the only possible direction is forward toward forgiveness and love.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) – IMDb.


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