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In The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Jordan Belfort lost his job as a stockbroker during Black Monday. His wife found a suitable job for him in Long Island, so he drove there by car. During this process, a small editing effect was used to make it appear as if Jordan Belfort parked his car and was suddenly shown walking in front of it, skipping the part where he gets out of the car:

enter image description here

To clear up some of the confusion, here's an enlarged screenshot of half-way through his fade-in [TS 16:54]. You can clearly see the entire scene crossfades… Without too much care for the shots matching up. It takes a minute to spot him, but he's already there and walking.

enter image description here

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  • Hmmm… protagonist fade-in. I'd never spotted that before. It speeds the action up by what, 3 seconds. Maybe they needed it for run-time <j/k>
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 15 at 14:46
  • Was he in the passenger seat? Not clear why he was passing in front of the car.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jan 15 at 15:11
  • @GendoIkari I mentioned he drove there by car in the question.
    – Max Power
    Commented Jan 15 at 15:13
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    That makes the edit more confusing. It doesn’t look like he came from the driver’s side.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jan 15 at 15:16
  • @GendoIkari - look more carefully. He literally fades into view, out of nowhere, already walking, right as the car finishes its braking phase.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 15 at 16:42

1 Answer 1

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I can only posit a theory.

It's a 'cut for time'.
As is common knowledge, the movie runs long. Initially it ran even longer, so some decisions had to be made as to what to lose. We may never know exactly was cut. The four-hour version has been described as an 'assembly cut'*. This is not a release candidate, usually. It's a primary assemblage of the entire story using chosen 'best' of all the footage into a full-length reel so decisions on further cuts can then be made. It's the full dish from which the fat needs to be trimmed.

Sometimes it's easier to cut an entire scene than to try reduce time on it, which may lose its point. Perhaps there are tighter edits elsewhere in the movie that we just can't spot, because we never saw the original. A walk shortened by a few paces, a speech trimmed by a couple of lines in the middle; something deemed not important enough to carry the plot.

Let's imagine it's too late, or budget is too tight to do reshoots - or even that reshoots have been done but still we're running long. Something has to go, somewhere.

He's carrying a newspaper & brief case as we see him. Maybe he got out of the car with the brief case, but then went to fetch the paper. There was some business initially thought to convey some characterisation as he approaches this interview - maybe a sign of nerves, etc. We'll never know. Let's also assume every take was done as the single long-shot we see in the final edit. The camera is not locked off in anticipation of a later cross-fade, so they've had to pick a take where there's approximate overlay of camera position at their cross-fade - some point at which it is least noticeable. I'm sure they wouldn't have picked a point where he's incongruously walking past his own car, looking back at it as he does… if there was any better point they could have found.

And there's your hurried 'cut for time'. "No-one will spot that." they proudly declare, and move on to the next difficult decision.

*Scorsese calls it an assembly cut, the editor Schoonmaker says it was a cut for test audiences. Ref:IndieWire - As ‘The Irishman’ Runtime Causes Stir, Revisit Scorsese’s Four-Hour ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Cut
There was talk at the time that the full 4-hour version may make it to Blu-Ray, but there's been no sign of it in the intervening period.

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    This strikes me as being the most likely answer. Dicaprio got out of the car and did some acting, walking around and looking for the (fairly invisible) investor centre probably. Eventually he found it. That's what got cut.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:55
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    The need to keep the shot of the car because it ties into the scene later where he's driving a better car. And they need to keep the shot of him walking in because it explains where he is.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:56
  • Yeah, agree. I spent some time scanning before & after to see if we ever saw him with that car in another scene, but I don't think we do. It's him in the car merely because it's tied to him being near it. There's not enough definition to be 100% certain it's him driving into the car park, but we have no reason to believe it isn't. And, yes… he makes some commission, immediately buys the Jag for contrast. Bright yellow: right in character. We do need to see some segments of that strip mall to show is it's a bit scummy overall. If the scene started right at the door we'd have a lot less context.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 16 at 17:04

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