axi Driver follows the life of post Vietnam war veteran, Travis Bickle (DeNiro). Travis suffers from insomnia and so finds night work to past the endless hours of sleepless turmoil.
As a Taxi Driver, Travis works day and night in all parts of New York City, still unable to sleep, he finds comfort watching adult films at the local picture house.
Travis becomes lonely and alienated, until he sees the lady of his conscious dreams, Betsy (Shepherd). Betsy works for the senator who is campaigning for election. Travis charms Betsy; not with his vast political articulation, but with his philosophy of life. She agrees to go out with Travis. The date ends in disaster after Travis takes Betsy to see one of his adult films.
Travis continues to persevere with Betsy, but his continual calling and eagerness only pushes her further away.
Following this Travis’ mental grip on reality begins to loosen, he begins to travel further into psychosis and is again drawn to a women, or in this instance a girl. Iris (Foster) is a fourteen year old prostitute, governed by her pimp and lover Sport (Keitel).
Travis feels the need to ‘save’ Iris from the filth of the New York streets. Travis becomes focussed in a new reality. Believing that he is some kind of saviour, Travis, begins an intensive regime of fitness, mental strength and weaponry training.
What is it all for?
At this point in the film Travis aims his vengeance at Senator Palentine, he even makes some attempt at a assignation. Following this failure Travis immediately aims his anger towards the powers that hold Iris in world of sexual torment. Sport is the first to die and following a five minute blood bath extravaganza, few are left alive.
Travis, close to death attempts to shoot himself, fortunately there are no bullets left and thus resorts to an equally powerful, and quite haunting, symbolic death.
Praised for his bravery Travis becomes a New York Hero and finally seems to have returned to reality. The final scene sees a failing Betsy trying to gain the attention of a taxi driver who once took her to a porno!
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By: James Youngs
Taxi Driver is hailed as one of the greatest cinematic triumphs of all time, not only for Scorsese but for alternative cinema. It was once thought that its impact would fade but its cult status has grown and the film is now more understood and haunting then ever.
Following the trend, of post Vietnam war film, Scorsese created something very similar but with a very different impact. A combination of Paul Schrader’s screen play, Bernard Herrmann's score and Scorsese’s direction brings a most real and surreal cinematic experience.
What is it that makes this film stand out?
Being born after this film was released meant that I never had chance to see it on the big screen, until 2002, when it was showing at the IMAX in London. It was at this point that my conception of the film changed dramatically. Previously the film had echoed solitude and loneliness, which gave it a intensely serious and dark feel.
The final scene had been described as being to graphic to be shown and the narrative was so distant and complex that the film was beyond any normal cinematic experience.
The IMAX viewing gave a completely different angle to the film. Throughout many parts of the film the whole audience was laughing, and in a way, mocking Travis. His inability to maintain a hold on reality became very funny. His sad attempt at drawing his gun faster than his reflection was reminiscent of a child impersonating Clint Eastward. It no longer glamorised the film, it showed the film in its real light, the way it should of been seen on its release.
Robert DeNiro is not cool, and slick in this film, and this is all to his credit. Those who think that Taxi Driver made DeNiro, are right, but it did not make him into the Ace Rothstein in Casino, or Jimmy in Goodfellas, it made him into a serious and competent actor.
Taxi Driver is the type of film that every actor wishes they could have been part of, those who were, Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro, Jodi Foster, Cybill Shepherd, have all done very well from it.
So,what is Taxi Driver really about?
Taxi Driver is about drive. It’s about the human need to reach a destination. Our lives are constant journeys, all the while trying to reach somewhere, somewhere further, closer to something. What is that something....death, fulfilment, heaven?
The end of the journey is to become complete, to destroy all your own demons and inhibitions and return to a state of full being, a time when we were not conscious of ourselves, when there was no ego, nothing to create a feeling of deficiency.
This is what Taxi Driver illustrates; the struggle of life and the destruction of yourself; it is only when you have destroyed yourself that you can feel truly happy, hence Travis’s symbolic suicide at the end of the film.
Admittedly this is not the only way the film may be read, the film can be a commentary on the loneliness and displacement felt by the generation of the Vietnam war, especially those who fought. However, the echolation of continual self destruction that resounds in Travis Bickle makes Taxi Driver a wonderful memoir of the struggle of life.
There is not one thing that makes Taxi Driver great. Taxi Driver is a unique combination of some of the greatest artists involved in film, and their courage to take a risk against the norm, not to make money, but to make film.
Assistant director Ralph Singleton can be seen briefly playing a TV interviewer. In the cabstand, there’s a sign that reads:’be alert – the SANE driver is ALWAYS READY for the UNEXPECTED’, a hint of things to come.
Martin Scorsese was awarded the Palme d’Or for ‘Taxi Driver’ at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. The film was also nominated in the 1977 American Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Actor, Best Music, Original Score (Herrmann), Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Foster). And received a host of other nominations and awards from around the world.
In 1994, ‘Taxi Driver’ was registered with the National Film Preservation Board, USA, and in 1999 it was named the American Film Institute’s number 47 in 100 best films of the century.
Director Scorsese appears twice in the film. First we see him sitting on a wall just behind Betsy as she makes her first appearance and secondly as a husband who hires Travis’ cab to go watch his soon-to-be ex-wife cheating on him.
The picture of Iris’s parents that accompanies a newspaper clipping on Travis’ wall is actually a picture of Scorsese’s parents.
Diahnne Abbot who plays the concession attendant in the film would later become De Niro’s wife. She also featured in Scorsese’s ‘New York, New York’ (1977) & ‘King of Comedy’ (1982).
Scorsese and De Niro have worked together on seven other films (so far)… they are ‘Mean Streets’(1973), ‘New York, New York’ (1977), ‘Raging Bull’ (1980), ‘The King of Comedy’ (1983), ‘Goodfellas’(1990), ‘Cape Fear’(1991) and ‘Casino’(1995).
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Taxi Driver was filmed at locations in New York City, New York.
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|Trailer, Featurette, Notes|
|Trailer, Featurette, Notes|
Bernard Herrmann’s score runs consistently with the theme of self destruction.
This particular score creates a similar mood to that of Hitchcock's Psycho. The Taxi Driver score is sporadic and juxtaposed; neither moody or dramatic. The score therefore becomes a commentary on the progression of Travis’ psyche. As Travis becomes more unstable the score jumps around, at one time being quite tranquil and then in an instant jumpy and loud. In most cases this does not run with the visual, and thus, becomes another narrative into the insight of Travis.
The ability to create a score that no only supports the visual narrative but also implies a further narrative, which the visual can not articulate, is something that characteristic of Herrmann’s work. Track listing is as follows:
1. Main Title
2. Thank God For The Rain
3. Cleaning The Cab
4. I Still Can't Sleep/They Cannot Touch
5. Phone Call/ I Realize How Much She Is
6. .44 Magnum Is A Monster
7. Getting Into Shape/Listen You...
8. Sport and Iris
9. $20 Bill/Target Practice
10. Assassination Attempt/After The...
11. Reluctant Hero/Betsy/End Credits
12. Diary Of A Taxi Driver
13. God's Lonely Man
14. Theme From Taxi Driver
15. I Work The Whole City
16. Betsy In A White Dress
17. Days Do Not End
18. Theme From Taxi Driver (Reprise)
Soundtrack Available: On CD
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