* Prices may differ from that shown
RELEASED: 1976, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 117 mins
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
PRODUCERS: Julia & Michael Phillips
SCREENPLAY: Paul Schrader
MUSIC: Bernard Herrmann
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
FILM ONLY REVIEW
The Vietnam War has recently ended, and ex-marine Travis Bickle is at a loose end in New York. Appearing to suffer from some form of post traumatic stress disorder, Travis, who is largely a loner with few social skills, is unable to sleep so decides to take a job as a yellow cab driver with the aim of giving him something to do at night, and get paid for it too.
Travis is very distraught at what he sees whilst cruising through the streets of New York's seamier side after dark, his disgust rapidly mounting towards people such as hookers, muggers etc., yet, he does appear to have double standards in that during the day, he spends a lot of time in seedy cinemas watching porn movies.
When Travis spots a girl who he is instantly attracted to - she is working on Senator Palatine's presidential campaign - he tries to get to know her better, becoming fixated on her. Travis eventually manages to get the girl (Betsy) to go for a meal with him, but he later blows the opportunity for further dates by his strange attitude and taking her on their next date to see a porn movie! Travis continues to turn up at the office where Betsy works, his demanding and obsessive behaviour eventually getting him forcibly ejected.
At a loose end and after a rather awkward man-to-man talk with one of his taxi driver colleagues, Travis decides to wholly turn his attention towards his quest to rid the streets of all that he sees as undesirable, focusing on a young, underage prostitute (Iris - played by Jodi Foster) in the hope of saving her from the good-natured but freeloading pimp who controls her life.
Things progress down some very dark paths as Travis ups his ante in preparation for cleaning up the streets of downtown New York.
That sets the scene....as ever, you can watch the film yourself to find out what happens.
I first saw Taxi Driver when it was new and doing the rounds in the UK back in the mid-1970s. At that time, I didn't understand it too well and recently chose to see it again in the hopes that I could make more sense of it over three decades on...and I'm pleased to say that I fully comprehended it this time around.
Taxi Driver was one of Robert De Niro's very early roles, possibly even the first memorable main character that he played....and, it was made back in the days when he was an extraordinarily good-looking young man. At the time, I can recall there was a stir of controversy regarding the violence in the film, but we have since become used to much worse. Having said that, the violence in Taxi Driver is very much hands-on, which some people possibly could find disturbing.
I have only listed De Niro above as a main character, because he really does pretty much carry the whole film on his back, with it being my opinion that all other cast members are incidental. We see a very young Jodie Foster play the part of Iris, the 12-year-old prostitute who Travis attempts to 'rescue' and she was presented with an award for best newcomer and best female actress, but for me her role extremely limited. She does play it very well, but her main presence in the film is just for a short time towards the end. However, and unless I'm wrong, I do believe that Jodi Foster actually was only aged 12 herself at the time Taxi Driver was made, so bearing that in mind, she didn't do badly at all.
The music to Taxi Driver is largely jazz orientated, which is perfect for providing an auditory backdrop to New York's street life at its utmost seediest end. Some of this music is rather sleazy, with the remainder sounding quite urgent, perhaps even hostile, but remaining within the jazz-influenced genre. I did quite like the music, but although I am fond of some jazz, this didn't really hit my spot, despite it being ideally suited to the overall mood of the film.
Considering Taxi Driver was directed by Martin Scorsese, it is a relatively laid-back film compared to some of his later works which in my view went way over the top. Taxi Driver is a dark, moody film where I feel that pretty much all of the atmosphere is provided by De Niro's superb portrayal of Travis, the lonely, quiet-natured yellow cab driver who underneath his apparently placid exterior, actually is very disturbed; I was tempted to use the expression 'mixed-up', but on second thoughts he is isn't, simply because he knows what he wants to do and how he wants to do it.
The seamy side of New York life is put across very well in this film (such being down to Scorsese's director skills) to the point where I can feel uneasy just watching it from my own living room. I know that I'd be uncomfortable and nervous walking through areas like 7th Avenue, winding my way through hookers, dope peddlers, dossers and other such characters who I'd possibly find potentially threatening.
There is one point in Taxi Driver where it seems as if it could possibly be headed down the same pathway as another film which I've seen (and reviewed on Ciao), but thankfully it veered off in another direction which I was happy about. If it had been too similar to the other film, I may even have stopped watching as the ending then would have been not just predictable, but inevitable.
Robert De Niro received a Best Actor award for his part as Travis in Taxi Driver, which I feel was well-deserved, but it has to be said that this is the type of role he is best at anyway,,,,just that nobody knew it at the time, due to him then being a relative newcomer to main character acting on the silver screen.
Taxi Driver is quite a thought-provoking film in some ways, although I feel that aspect would come across better if some of the script/dialogue was given an injection of something a bit more punchy than as it stands. There is nothing wrong with it...just that I feel it perhaps could have carried a little more depth or been gutsier, but it is possible the world wasn't ready at that time for how I'd like it to have been.
Overall, Taxi Driver is a dark, intense, mean, moody and quite violent film where the character of Travis shows us that still waters can run with some very dangerous currents when the calm surface is disturbed. Although I'm almost certain that there can't be many people out there who haven't seen this film with De Niro in one of his best roles, I'd urge them to give it a watch....but to be prepared to be shocked if you are of an extremely sensitive disposition.
I'm glad I watched Taxi Driver again after all these years, as my now advancing years have given me the psychological grounding necessary to comprehend and appreciate it, whereas back in 1976-ish at the tender age of 22, I found the film all too confusing.
I can, to close, only say two words....watch it!
At the time of writing, Taxi Driver can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.44 to £99.99
Used: from 23p to £19.99
Collectible: Only one copy currently available @ £3.45 (Used)
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Travis Bickle is a Vietnam veteran. Adjusting to city life after his tour isn't the easiest thing to do, especially as he sees the negative side of society in his job as a taxi driver, which he has taken due to a bout of insomnia. Travis slowly but surely becomes more and more disillusioned with the world he lives in, and reaches boiling point with political activists and prostitution top of his hates.
Essentially, this film is made powerful by three things: writer Paul Schrader was in a dark place, reportedly going through depression as he wrote this, and much of himself is present in Travis. At the same time, director Martin Scorsese wasn't having the best time in his career, and this seems to be represented in the bleak and harsh visuals and timing in the film. The third catalyst that makes this powerful is Robert De Niro's acting: there's no other way to describe it other than saying he 'IS' Travis Bickle. What you see isn't just an actor playing a character: you firmly believe that De Niro is living Travis' life and that any moment he really is going to break down and flip out.
The camera follows Travis around with little or no background noise save for the occasional powerful piece of classical music and the natural sounds of a city. People walking past and talking, distant horns, traffic and other sounds make up the back audio and this helps to make it so real. We see Travis descend into a violent man seeking to right all the wrongs in society, exacerbated by his insomnia and a repeat encounter with a 12 year old girl being used for prostitution by a local pimp (a very young Harvey Keitel). There's a brief flit with romance in the form of Cybill Shepherd and early on his boss at the taxi company serves as a kind of mentor. You get the feeling that this character, played by Peter Boyle, is the only thing keeping Travis somewhat sane, with reassurances and explanations of the job and making life easy enough for our lead role.
Scorsese almost just lets De Niro get on with it, the camera lingering while the actor performs the lines he needs to - you can see in his eyes just how much he's living the part, and the way he tries to combat his own inner demons and how he decides to do something about the situation he sees society in becomes powerful, even though little reference is made to his mental state being a bi-product of the Vietnam War, save for the occasional recognition of the combat jacket he wears. Jodie Foster comes in as Iris, the 12 year old prostitute, and is to be commended on the mature portrayal of the character. It can't have been easy.
However, everything is made to look easy and natural, as if events are flowing with no preconception and the whole thing is as spontaneous as real life can be. That's the trick here: at no point did I feel like it was just a film - this could quite easily have been a real situation that I was following in a chronological fashion, and it astounded me at just how powerful De Niro's performances used to be when he was in his prime. I have also recently watched the remake of Cape Fear with De Niro as the psychotic ex con out to get revenge on his defense lawyer. This is another role he throws himself into - here in Taxi Driver it's a more social type of psychology that comes into discussion, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. He was riveting to watch, and Scorsese's script and Schrader's writing allow for the actor to give such a tour de force, knowing the strength and passion of director and writer right there behind him. Recommended.
Taxi Driver is the very fine but somewhat disturbing 1976 drama directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Paul Schrader and starring Robert De Niro in his most recognizable role as Travis Bickle, the lonely taxi driver of the title who slips into depression, obsession and then violence. It co stars Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, Harvey Keital and a very young Jodie Foster in a film that probes the deepest recesses of the human mind and the problems that loneliness and isolation can bring to a man.
Travis Bickle is a lonely young Vietnam veteran living in Manhattan. Even though he lives in New York, he's still lonely because he doesn't know anyone, and is so ashamed of his failure that he lies to his parents about his job, saying that he works for the government and that he can't give out his home address or phone number because it would break confidentiality and place him in danger. He writes his days down in his diary, and they are a somewhat disturbing long log of a man who desperately needs people in his life to keep him on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately he has also developed chronic insomnia that prevents him from sleeping.
So, to counter the problem of the insomnia, he takes a job as a taxi driver during the night. During the day when he can't sleep, he goes to seedy porn theatres. As he drives around, meeting people adn seeing crime, he becomes more and more disillusioned with life, nad he slowly starts to sink into a form of madness.
That briefly stops when he meets Betsy (Shepherd), and he becomes attached to her. She seems to feel sorry for Travis, and because he does go out of his way to be nice, she goes out with him. But the date doesn't go well, and Travis is now on the verge of slipping.
Finally, he meets Iris, a chlid prostitute (Foster) and this combined with his other problems is enough to send him over the edge, leading a very violent conclusion as Travis begins a spree.
This film really does tell it how it is. There are no holds barred here, with a shocking yet compelling script that has some truly disturbing ideas about humanity at its lowest. Paul Schrader at the time of writing this was himself in depression, and Travis is supposed to be a very exaggerated version of him.
Martin Scorsese at the time was also in his own troubles, having not found the success that he wanted. So he too was drawing on his own experiences and the film is made so much darker with his expert direction throughout.
Even Robert De Niro wasn't in the best place, so he was also using previous experience of failure to bring out the best in himself. He really brings the character of Travis Bickle to life and at times is totally believeable to the point where you are just waiting for him to have a break down. His performance is the best in the film by a mile, and there are some truly iconic scenes in this film that De Niro is just outstanding in.
Jodie Foster also makes for a brilliant but totally disturbing character as Iris, the young prostitute who is being abused and the film even gained some notoriety when a man called John Hinckley shot Reagan claiming that Jodie Foster had wanted him to do it.
All in all, this is a dark, disturbing drama that broods for some time before suddenly coming to life. Genuinely an outstanding film all the way.
This is another excellent Martin Scorcese film, starring Robert De Niro as a man who used to fight in the Vietnam war and is now a New York taxi driver who slowly goes insane from witnessing the run down life around him in the city.
Eventually, he snaps as he, in his warped mind, wants to protect a 12 year old child working as a prostitute.
Make no mistake about it, this is a depressing, involving film.
Every mile of the way, we are with De Niro's Travis Bickle as he witnesses the various scum on the streets and the film's rather dirty cinematography helps to convey that.
Jodie Foster plays Iris, the underage child prostitute that is just trying to make a living but is someone that Bickle develops deep genuine sympathy for.
Her performance is terrific here and if she was still 12 years old today, I would have said that in the future she was going places!
Not to mention that it's a heavy responsibility on a child to play that type of role!
De Niro is excellent again, as he is in all his movies, and while he isn't frightening to the viewer, we come to understand why he develops these motivations and ideas that will eventually lead him to snap and cause carnage.
I think the film's obvious message when finishing watching the film was that all that sleaze that is out on the streets needs to stop and that we need to change our world for the better. We have war veterans who fight for our country and we need to start appreciating that a lot more and not by treating our world like how it is today!
I think many people forget this, but that's just my opinion and take on the film.
The pace of the film is generally slow and it needs patience.
It is not an action film but is a movie that takes it's time to flesh out the story and characters and for the most part, it is a drama film.
The gory climax can be hard to watch for a first time viewer but it is a suitable and satisfying conclusion to a generally slow movie and it has an ambiguous ending that can make you think about what happened soon after the movie ended.
Truth be told, I don't think many people of our young generation, especially of the teenage rap variety who love garbage horror films such as 'My Bloody Valentine' or the latest redundant 'Saw sequel' would ever enjoy or understand this film, but it is a classic and a quite important film.
This needs to be seen in any case!
Robert De Niro stars as a twenty-six year old war veteran living alone in a big city. He decides to apply to work as a taxi driver on nights, and thanks to his CV he gets the job.
Very quickly he realises that there is a different side to the city at night than in the day, and he is overwhelmed by the depravity he sees in the ghettos he drives through.
He becomes infatuated with a campaign worker called Betsy, played by Cybil Shepherd, and wants to date her but doesn't know how to go about it.
He eventually meets a child prostitute called Iris, played by Jodie Foster. He is horrified by her lifestyle and decides he wants to clean up the streets and rescue her from her "hell".
This film was made in 1976, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader.
I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, there are some fantastic performances, on the other, I don't really like the story.
I thought the best actor in this film, without a doubt, was Jodie Foster. I found her totally convincing. I was just blown away by her. Robert De Niro was almost as good as her.
I really like the cinematography in this film. There's a brilliant shot towards the end, but I don't want to give the end away!
The storyline however just doesn't do it for me. It's supposed to be a film about loneliness and insanity, but that doesn't really come across. There were a lot of scenes that left me scratching my head, they just didn't make any sense. Also I wasn't impressed with Cybil Shepherd's acting but that's no surprise.
Taxi Driver of course, has the famous "are you talking to me?" scene, so it might be worth watching it for that. It also stars Harvey Keitel and Albert Brooks, the voice of Marlin in Finding Nemo.
It's quite a good DVD though, it comes with the script, so you can act out scenes from it, and there's also a documentary of the making of the Taxi Driver, with interviews with all the stars.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Taxi Driver is a great film from the world's greatest director, Martin Scorsese. At face value, it seems like a simple revenge film, but this hides a far more complex narrative about alienation and a world in seeming ruins. It is a loose reworking of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's superb novel Notes from Underground, and using New York City as a backdrop, is a stunning look at modern society and the human psyche.
The film chronicles the exploits of Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), a lonely and firmly alienated cab driver who spends his time driving around New York City and seeing nothing but decadence and debauchery. He feels that he needs to pay the scum of the city a lesson, giving birth to such famous lines as "You talkin' to me?", as Bickle stands in front of a mirror, gun poised.
The film owes a lot to two things - Scorsese's amazing direction, which gets at something deep here, and also paints a grim picture of New York City, particularly with Jodie Foster's character, who is a child prostitute, pimped out by a character played by Harvey Keitel. What the film boils down to, though, is DeNiro's astounding performance, which channels the cerebral spirit of the Underground Man, and adds a brutal, visceral punch to things with the manic look in his eyes as the film progresses, resulting in a brutal and gritty climax.
In some way, Travis embodies the way that we would all like to be - utterly unrestrained and bent on laying waste to any evil-doers. Sadly, though, things are never that easy, and Bickle has a lot to deal with if he's going to clean up the streets. He begins by trying to get Foster's character off the streets, and it's a genuinely touching relationship between the two that obviously screams "foster parent", but aside of interpretations is undeniably heart rending.
Is it oversold? Sure, slightly - it's a more subtle film but also has its fair moments of bombast. Nevertheless, it's still a wonderful exploration of a man's mind and his push to the brink. Classic cinema at its best.
Taxi Driver is probably Robert De Niro greatest ever performance as Travis Bickle the New York taxi driver who also acts as a vigilante in the streets of New York. Bicjkle is a former Vietnam veteran and like many of his colleagues from that war his experiences and the indifference he encounters when coming back to America serve to isolate him and leave him with an underlying pent up store of rage and hate. All of these qualities De Niro manages to bring to the role in what is a brutal and fascinating portrayal.
With De Niro narrating his inner most thoughts and conveying the blinding headaches and insomnia that his characters suffers from it is a powerful film that is also very violent. It also has an excellent cast with Jodie Foster playing a vulnerable prostitute that Bickle looks to protect and Cybil Shepherd in the role of a reforming volunteer campaigner with whome Bickle has a brief relationship which ends in farce.
The whole feel of Taxi Driver is one of mental meltdown and a group of lost souls coming together, New York is portrayed as seedy and depressing with no real soul or community spirit and the film certainly does not act as a tourist promo of any kind. Visually though the film is still impressive in the way it creates an atmosphere ot impending violence and the col hard way Bickle goes about equipping himself with the ability to defend himself and carry out the role of protector to those he feels need protecting.
This is a gritty film and one that everyone should give a try at some point, even if it is not your type of film the performance of De Niro is one to be appreciated.
Film only review.
After hearing what a cult classic this film was, I set out to buy my first copy of this film on DVD which wasn't particularly a cheap buy at the time and sat through the entire 113 minutes of this film feeling slightly cheated that it was so dated. I was too young at the time to appreciate this film for its pure genius and found it mildly entertaining watching what seemed to be a nutcase with a split personality driving a taxi one minute and then going on a killing spree the next. Not too soon after watching the film, I ended up selling 'Taxi Driver' for about £1 in a car boot sale.
More than just a film
At some point we all reach a turning point in our lives, whether it's a new job, new lifestyle, a nervous breakdown or a midlife crisis. Something so drastic happens that things will never be the same again. For some strange reason, I kept parts of this film to the back of my head for many years after, and it was always fun trying on the words 'Are you talking to me?' whilst pointing a hairbrush in the mirror, until one day it finally all started to gradually unfold and make perfect sense. This wasn't some psychopathic nutter out on some wild killing spree; this was something far more important, something everyone will probably go through at some point, this film was about reaching that turning point in your life where rejection and being substandard is not good enough, where it's time to make a change and where it's time to make yourself stand out from the crowd and become a hero even if it's just for one day.
Time to get a job
Taken from the glory and action where his life had more meaning on the battlefield of the Vietnam War, Travis Bickle (Robert De niro) is suddenly thrust into the grasp of the New York City streets where nothing seemed to have a sense of direction and purpose. His chronic insomnia meets the job specification of a New York cabbie along with his willingness to work the long shifts and extra hours, and in no time at all he soon finds himself behind the wheel of a yellow cab.
De niro works well with this role as he seems to live the part as opposed to just playing it; which makes the character of Travis more believable. Another important character in this film was Betsy, played by Cybill Shepherd who also fits the role very well as a campaign volunteer promoting social change. Both characters at opposite ends of the scale find a common ground as they go on a date together, but this is short lived with when she does not share the same enthusiasm for porno movies. I couldn't stop laughing at this point because Shepherd has her own natural way of being so offended and insulted that she makes the scene very convincing as Bickle chases after her trying pass it off as an art movie. His attempts fail and she leaves him behind.
The sadness of rejection, lack of sleep, the dirty streets, the fumes, the pollution and the scum on the sidewalk made him feel ill and wishing that someone would just come along and flush it all down the toilet. There is no doubt that these things are eating away at Travis as you hear his mind say 'I tried several times to call her, but after the first call, she wouldn't come to the phone any longer. I also sent flowers but with no luck. The smell of the flowers only made me sicker. The headaches got worse. I think I got stomach cancer. I shouldn't complain though. You're only as healthy; you're only as healthy as you feel. You're only as...healthy...as...you...feel'. The tone in De niro's voice as he perfectly times the way that these words are delivered is superb; he lets you know exactly how bad things have affected Travis and how his depression has deepened.
Time for a change
Travis kept in touch with his mother by writing letters to her explaining about his fictitious career as a secret agent; it's sad to see that his life didn't turn out quite the way he wanted, but what slowly becomes clear is that he was going to be the one to make that change with some truly inspiring words from Travis- 'June twenty-ninth. I gotta get in shape. Too much sitting has ruined my body. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. From now on there will be 50 pushups each morning, 50 pull-ups. There will be no more pills, no more bad food, and no more destroyers of my body. From now on will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight'. Sometimes I wish that I could find the energy to do this every morning then I wouldn't be in such a bad shape. Now where did I put those biscuits?
From hereon, Travis starts to mould himself into the stronger, healthier, and more purposeful character that he has created in his mind, becoming someone who would stand up to those who made peoples lives so bad, someone not to be messed with, maybe the person he was back in Vietnam, or maybe a superhero who lived a normal life in the day and becoming someone else by night. He soon acquires a selection of guns and knives and starts work on fashioning a quick draw mechanism made from the slider of his bedside drawer, he adds a few drops of oil and rolls the mechanism back and forth making a snapping sound as it extends. Once the work is complete, Travis quickly rolls over on his bed bringing his knee to his chest to reveal a large knife strapped to his boot; and in one swift movement he pulls the knife free and brings it towards the imaginary attacker in combat. Satisfied with this drill, he stands up with a bladed stance in front of the full length mirror wearing his green casual military jacket and a Mohawk to symbolize the changed man. Apparently those famous lines that follow were not rehearsed time and time again as I first thought; but were completely made up as he went along. Say them out loud if you like...
'You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? OK'. Travis then extends his arm to face his target and for the first time you see the sliding quick draw mechanism in action as the hand gun instantly slides into his hand with a positive click, and the firing pin is released. No bullets this time, maybe next time will be for real.
It's the scenes like this that stick in your head because they ooze an instant classic cinematic appeal, and the fact that this film is dated and scratchy in quality adds a little charm of authenticity to it, only to be copied by the likes of Tarantino in some of his films.
At the risk of dragging this out too long and also spoiling the ending for those who haven't seen 'Taxi Driver', I will briefly mention Iris, played by Jodie Foster, who becomes the next focus for Travis. Jodie Foster displays her early acting talents in this film acting as a streetwise young teenage prostitute and she acts very well alongside De niro through the remainder of the film with her upfront and energetic character.
My final thoughts on Taxi Driver
For me it's not one of those films that I want to watch time and time again because of the journey that it takes you through which kind of sticks in your head for some time. This can also be said for the eerie and dare I say depressing saxophone soundtrack which plays through parts of the film.
The special effects towards the end of this film are very limited compared to today's standards, but you have to respect that it was made way back in 1976 and actually received an 'R' rating in America for a shoot out that was apparently too gory.
In a line up of 100 films to see before you die, I would expect to see this film amongst them; but don't be disappointed if you watch this film and don't see what the point of it is, because the chances are that you will be one of the lucky ones who never gets to relate to any of the issues set deep inside this remarkable film.
Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a lonely Vietnam war veteran who takes up a night job driving a taxi in New York City. This highly controversial film (Jodie Foster, 14 at the time of filming, playing a 12 year old prostitute) gave both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro a major breakthrough, despite previous successes such as Mean Streets (which they both were a part of ) and The Godfather Part II (De Niro receiving a supporting oscar for his role as a young Vito Corleone). The script by Paul Schrader gives a highly convincing portrayal of a man isolated by society whose hatred of the city reaches the forefront of his thoughts. Bickle begins a relationship with Betsy, a campaigner for a hopeful state senator. However, his lack of social skills gives him troubles to say the least.
Bickle is one of the most iconic anti-heroes - a character who we shouldn't support yet we somehow sympathise with. Despite New York City being highly populated, he remains isolated throughout. He finds peace of mind through his attempts to protect Iris (Foster) from her pimp (Harvey Keitel), which brings us further discomfortant in watching.
Though they would later go on to work together on many projects, De Niro and Scorsese would never top Taxi Driver, though they would equal it with Raging Bull.
I may have been born in 1983, but the year 1976 had a pivotal effect upon my life. First came Rocky, a classic rags-to-riches tale of the underdog that captivated me ever since I remember first watching the original in my parents' living room, in my pre-adolescent years. Taxi Driver, born within the same year as Rocky, came later: like the main character Travis Bickle (De Niro) I was at a point in my life where I was struggling to find any form of purity; sat at opposite ends of the sofa, my girlfriend and I were on non-speaking terms, and I was becoming pretty clueless in regards how to treat women in general.
Having watched Taxi Driver last night for the countless time, it's actually beginning to scare me now how much I feel that I'm able to relate more and more to De Niro's character within each viewing. I probably shouldn't admit it, but my current state of Misanthropy has been influenced by failed relationships and breakdowns of apparent-friendships; not to mention this country's current state of recession. Writing probably isn't the best career, either, in finding solace or effectively functioning in society; even though "fitting in" probably wouldn't give me any individualist value. Never has the film's quote "Partly truth, partly fiction. A walking contradiction," been so relevant.
Bickle, like this writer, is a loner. Suffering from chronic insomnia, he spends his days and nights working the streets as a cabbie, and "relaxing" in seedy porn theatres, searching for a sense of belonging. Disgusted by what he sees, he attempts to develop relationships with other people: first with local girl Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), then with New York Senator Charles Palantine, and even with a Secret Service agent. All his attempts to connect fail.
Travis' thoughts soon begin to turn violent. As an act of rebellion, he shaves his hair into the style of a Mohawk, buys a number of pistols from an arms dealer, and vents his frustrations via menacing speeches to his living room mirror ("You talkin' to me?") He only begins to find hope when he meets a twelve year old prostitute named Iris (a significant role for Jodie Foster), who is under the wing of her pimp "Sport" (Harvey Keitel). Travis goes on a violent shooting spree in the hallways of the bad guys, in a bid to "cleanse" America and convince Iris to leave her seedy way of life behind and go back to school.
Scorsese's powerful 1976 film is considered a masterpiece to many as it has the ability to pull the viewer into the alienated world of Travis, to disturbing effect. Cinematography by Michael Chapman and music by Bernard Herrmann are significant in their contribution to the dark, oppressive atmosphere that surrounds Bickle. As the urban city of New York decays, the viewer becomes engrossed by the character's developing anxiety.
What's more, the speculation surrounding the character's mental state have kept the film fresh, even by today's standards. Critics and fans still debate whether the violent ending was a reality in Travis' world, or a scenario brought about by his schizophrenic imagination; is he considered to be a protagonist, in the sense that he rescued the young girl from the sex-obsessed gutters? Or an antagonist, in the sense he was about to assassinate a political figure, only a few moments earlier? Whichever, the numerous articles in regards to the film make fascinating further reading.
Taxi Driver may be a psychological study of a lonely and depressed young man struggling to develop a sense of belonging, but as more and more people watch it they find themselves understanding and sympathising with Travis' mindset; thus, gaining him more and more popularity. This anchors him as one of the most inspirational characters in cinema history.
I must also note: like Travis, I too have found my sense of belonging. Taxi Driver is a disturbing and endlessly watchable film that captivated my attention from beginning to end. A truly brilliant piece of work.
A loose remake of John Ford's The Searchers, Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver tells the tale of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro in an iconic, legendary, career-defining performance), a Vietnam veteran serving as a night-shift cabbie on the streets of New York City. An unhinged, socially inept loner, Travis, having been rejected by the woman he has fallen in love - or lust - with, attempts first to assassinate the presidential candidate for whom said woman was working, and then to rescue from a life of prostitution a 13 year old girl by the name of Iris.
Alongside the likes of Abel Ferrara's Driller Killer, Walter Hill's The Warriors and Scorsese's own Mean Streets, Taxi Driver helped to cement in the public imagination the image of New York as a dangerous, sin-sodden, nocturnal netherworld populated primarily by pimps, hustlers, hookers, gangsters and psychos. In stark contrast to the New York envisioned by, say, Woody Allen, these films presented a bleak, postmodern inferno of corruption and depravity, a place with no heroes, only twisted simulacrums of such, where the populace is as spiritually bankrupt as the city is financially, where the only culture is sleaze, where all is neon-slathered sex and brutality.
There is detectable in all of this a fairly disturbing reactionary streak, but this is sidestepped in Taxi Driver by Scorsese's constant reaffirmation of our position not in any New York City that we might ever encounter (God forbid), but firmly in the head of De Niro's Bickle. On paper, Paul Schrader's screenplay DOES of occasion seem to support the outlook of its protagonist - by turns racist, homophobic and misogynist - but the film never does. That is not to say it is anything less than subtle in its condemnation.
By this stage, there is surely little left to be said of De Niro's incendiary lead performance. It is everything it has been lauded as and more. Compelling, frightening, perfectly pitched - it is masterful, and is rivalled for the position of Very Best De Niro Performance Ever only by his staggering turn in Raging Bull, the film, incidentally, which is also Taxi Driver's greatest rival for title of Scorsese's Best Picture.
Scorsese himself shows up in the film (twice, actually - he can also be glimpsed in a genuine cameo appearance early on) as one of Bickle's passengers, a vile, racist, murderous individual who, we learn, is intent on killing his wife and her lover. It is a chilling performance that has one wishing the scene were at once three times its length and three times shorter. It's uncomfortable, disturbing - as is the film as a whole.
Similarly brilliant are Shepherd and Foster and, as the latter's pimp, Harvey Keitel.
Any Modern Classic approached for the first time will appear to groan and buckle under weight of accumulated praise and analysis scribbled or spoken in its name over the years, and Taxi Driver is no different. If you CAN, though, put all that aside, pretend you've never heard a single person misquoting that "You talkin' to me?" business, imagine you've read none those Best Films Of All Time lists, imagine this is the first time you ever heard tell of a film about Taxi Driving that wasn't part of the Confessions... series, approach it fresh and not as some relic from the 1970s and it will be reveal itself to be a picture as relevant as anything released this year.
For this is the terrible Truth of Taxi Driver for audiences in 2009 - there are people coming back from Iraq right now who are just as disenfranchised and alone as Travis Bickle. What kinds of redemption will THEY go in search of? What horrors are we nurturing by sending youngsters off to fight only to ignore them upon return?
The leering, bloodied face of Travis Bickle provides answer enough to that.
Travis (played by Robert De Niro) is disgusted by the depravity he comes into contact with as a taxi driver on the streets of New York. The only shining light in this depraved city is a female campaign member for a local politician whom Travis becomes obsessed with but they are not destined to be together and his awkward attempts at romance (taking her to an adult movie theatre) show just how out of touch with normality he has become. He meets a young prostitute named Iris who he forms a friendship with - Travis has few friends and his interactions with people seem very awkward - and he plans to help her get out of her unpleasant life to return to her family home. In order to do this, Travis murders her pimp. In the final scenes, the viewer sees Travis recuperating and finds out that he is hailed as a hero by the media and has received a letter of thanks from Iris's parents. Taxi Driver is an interesting examination of justice, redemption and skewed hero worship. De Niro is incredible and at times terrify as the obsessive Bickle and although he is obviously unhinged you cannot help but feel some sympathy for him. Jodie Foster is also excellent as teenage prostitute Iris, especially considering she was only around 13 when the film was made. It is a graphic movie in terms of violence and language and so is not for everyone but if you are not easily offended I would recommend this film.
'Taxi Driver' is a film made in 1976 and is directed by Martin Scorcese.
The film centres around a New York cabbie called Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) that is having some issues with identity.
Travis develops an affection for Betsy (played by Cybill Shepherd) who works as a campaigner for a political candidate. Travis and Betsy have a real connection, but their respective upbringings and social backgrounds present a few problems when it comes to communication. Much to the devastation of Travis, his relationship with Betsy is cut short and she sets about completely ignoring him.
On a routine pick up, a 12 year old girl Iris (played by Jodie Foster) gets in his cab in a rush and very distressed but an older man 'Sport' (played by Harvey Keitel) persuades her not to take the trip to wherever she was headed. Travis is intrigued by this and soon realises that Iris is in fact a prostitute and that 'Sport' is her pimp. Travis becomes emotionally involved with Iris and is keen to try and get her to leave behind her dangerous situation and start afresh.
Whils this is going on, the mental state of Travis seems to deteriorate somewhat. Inexplicably (and sporting a mohawk haircut) Travis decides to attend a political rally with intentions of assassinating Senator Palpatine, but after being spotted by men working for the secret service he flees.
Scorcese wants us as the audience to feel some empathy for Travis because despite his slightly primitive interpersonal skills, he is essentially of good character and this is easy to see. An amusing example of Travis's inability to read a situation is when he takes the clearly well brought up Betsy to a porn cinema for a date. It would be pretty obvious to the majority of people that this is not a sound plan but an innocent Travis fails to understand what the problem is.
His failure to build relationships properly is quite uncomfortable to watch at times and this is even more annoying because his relationship with Betsy had some genuine chemistry and perhaps a little more foresight on both sides would have seen the breakdown averted.
The fact that Jodie Foster was only 13 years old when she played prostitue, Iris, caused a great wave of controversy and really pushed the boundaries of ethics. The shocking nature of this adds to the atmopshere of the film as the audience is really led to be filled with the hatred for 'Sport' that Travis feels.
Robert DeNiro is absolutely mesmerising in this role as the Taxi Driver marginalised from regular society. He plays Travis with such conviction that is unlikely to have possibly replicated by any other actor, this is something Scorcese acknowledges. This performance has to rank amongst the greatest ever in cinema history and the film has to be considered likewise.
One of the films that you cannot let pass you by. A film that I have ony watched twice but the powerful nature of it will never leave me!
If you wish to purchase this film then you are best served to go on play.com and purchase the special edition dvd for £4.99.
This is an absolute bargain.
Normally I wouldn’t have a long preamble to a film review but since this is a special review for Jill Murphy to celebrate 4 years free from cancer, I will make an exception. I know that many of you on the site don’t like very long opinions so if you are interested specifically in the review of the film and don’t wish to find out why I’ve listed this as one of ‘My favourite things’ please scroll down to ‘THE FILM’ section now! LOVELY JILL’S IDEA Jill is a hard taskmaster! When she contacted me and asked if I would write an opinion about one of my favourite thing I thought ‘Ok, no problem! This is going to be easy’ but on reflection the more I thought about it the more I realised that this opinion was going to be hard to write. My favourite thing…well some of my favourites things to do I can’t write about… I can be a bit shy about certain things!’ Other favourite things I could think about like, playing with my kids and watching them have fun, going for lovely walks in beautiful surroundings, talking and sharing time with good friends don’t’ really have a category and I’m not a good enough writer to make these things interesting for other people to read about. In the end I decided that one of my favourite things was sitting silently in a dark room, surrounded by complete strangers eating sweet sickly food and watching a shadows and light moving across a white screen. No I’m not a weirdo (well I might be…) what I’m talking about is going to the cinema and to make this a more focused opinion I will talk about going to see one of my favourite films. Taxi Driver. THE CINEMA EXPERIENCE What is it about going to the cinema that I like so much? According to some people my wife included, cinema going is a very antisocial experience. You turn up sit in silence, can’t speak
to each other, can’t stop the film and go and make a cup of tea or go to the toilet without missing some of the film, on the face of it not a great night out. However this is missing the point, watching a film in the cinema is very much a sociable experience, you sit there with many other people and you have a shared emotional experience as the film makes you laugh, makes you tense, gives you a fright or makes you cry. When a film get to a tense moment there might be over 400 people in the auditorium and yet you can hear a pin drop, every single person is completely consumed in the film and when the tension is over the feeling of relief permeates through the audience and the can be felt in the air. At a comic moment when people start to laugh it becomes infectious and the emotional response is heightened as well as shared. At the end of a classic film there is a feeling that you have taken part in something special with all the people around in many ways your enjoyment of the film for that short amount of time creates a bond between all the people present. This is something that can never be experienced at home watching on a video. This is the effect that the filmmaker had in mind when he created the film and this is the way that it should be experienced with complete concentration and without interruptions. Of course not all film provide the right stimulus but when the movie is good enough then the cinema experience is unbeatable. THE FILM Robert De Niro.... Travis Bickle Jodie Foster....Iris Steinsma Albert Brooks....Tom Harvey Keitel.... 'Sport' Matthew Leonard Harris....Charles Palantine Peter Boyle ....Wizard Cybill Shepherd....Betsy Norman Matlock....Charlie T Diahnne Abbott....Concession Girl Frank Adu.... Angry Black Man Victor Argo.... Melio Garth Avery.... Iris' Friend Directed by Martin Scorsese Writing credits Paul Schrader T
axi Driver was made in 1976 when I was just 12 years old and as it was an 18 (or X as they used to say in those halcyon days!) certificate I wasn’t able to see it until a few years later. I eventually saw it at the local cinema in 1980, I remember this well because it was the first X rated film I went to see, the local cinema was very lax about letting in under age viewers and since I was reasonably tall for 16 and could ask for my ticket in a deep husky voice I was let in. In many ways this film really sparked my love of films, something, which I have never lost. I was lucky in my choice since ‘Taxi Driver’ was a great film, certainly one of Scorsese/De Niro’s best collaborations. THE STORY The taxi driver of the title is Travis Bickle a psychologically disturbed Vietnam veteran who now back home finds himself adrift and alienated amongst an unfriendly society. His feeling of alienation is both illustrated and amplified by his job as a nightime Taxi driver, he meets people but never connects with them although he is part of the fabric of the city he at the same time feel removed from it. Because he has trouble sleeping he takes on the night shift and through this comes across the worse elements of the city, prostitutes, pimps, criminals, drug addicts. He despises what he sees but feels powerless to act on his feelings. After a failed relationship with a beautiful political campaign worker Betsy, Travis slowly sinks deeper in to an unbalanced state of mind and gradually we see that his behaviour is on the verge of pushing him to commit a violent act. He hatches a plan to prove to himself and to other in general that he is important and that his life will not be wasted. This inevitably leads to a violent conclusion with unexpected consequences. THEMES Taxi Driver is really one of the first in long line of films to investigate the repercussions of the war in Vietnam on American youth and American soc
iety in general, through the eyes of those young men who went out to fight for what they were told was a just cause only to find themselves reviled and collectively ostracized on their return. Attitudes towards the war changed dramatically over the 10-year duration and Americans had become embarrassed by the conflict and this meant that dealing with the most vivid reminders of it, the veterans would become difficult. On his return Bickle, a damaged young man is set adrift; he has no prospects and no sense of self-worth. He is incapable of making firm relationships with ordinary people and can only function within the twilight world of nighttime New York populated by fellow misfits. Scorsese and De Niro have to be congratulated for the way thy structured Travis Bickle’s slow slide in deep psychotic behaviour. De Niro himself worked as a New York night shift cabbie for a few months preparing for he role and experienced first hand the dangerous surreal world some people function in. As you see Bickle gradually losing control of himself and his sanity, this is portrayed subtly not in a explosive way, you can feel the tension rising as you know that things will end badly but at the same time you feel great sympathy for him and his situation. In a series of key scenes, the most famous of which is the ‘Are you looking at me?’ mirror scene Scorsese and De Niro manage to instil real menace in to the Bickle’s behaviour while still retaining a vulnerability that allows us to sympathise with his plight. The irony of the scene is that there is no one talking to him, he is threatening his reflection of himself and in the end this symbolises his isolation and the futility of his anger. Bickle relationship with Betsy is also interesting she represents the white middle class upstanding community that Bickle so longs to be accepted by but with which he is incapable of interacting successfully with. On thei
r date he takes her to a porn movie without thinking this would be inappropriate a further example of how his thinking has been distorted by his experiences. She inevitably rejects his advances. Their relationship is symbolic of the alienation that Bickle feels when he tries to re-connect with the society that has rejected him. In the end the film manages to reach a satisfactory conclusion after the dark foreboding event that seem to inevitably leading to a bloody outcome. Without giving too much away the film reinforces the idea that there is a fine line between someone’s fantasy and reality and that these boundaries can become blurred under times of extreme stress. The ending itself also illustrates how a person who can be considered an outsider and potentially dangerous to a society can sometimes redeem himself by unexpected actions. The conclusion to the story is both uplifting and yet extremely disturbing. In the early 80’s real life imitated art. ‘Taxi Driver’ was blamed in part for the actions of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. who stated in an interview in 1981. “...The line dividing life and art can be invisible. After seeing enough hypnotizing movies and reading enough magical books, a fantasy life develops which can either be harmless or quite dangerous...” The statement was taken by many as an obvious reference to the film, an argument backed up by Hinckley’s real life obsession with Jodie Foster whom he later began to and stalk. THE PERFORMANCES The film is filled with great performances, apart from De Niro at his very best; Jodie Foster gives a brilliant, powerful performance as the 12-year old child prostitute named Iris that Bickle meets and tries to save. Foster was only 14 when she did the role and her portrayal of the already cynical hard-nosed child shows a great ta
lent and maturity rare in someone so young. Peter Boyle as the taxi driver come philosopher Wizard is excellent as is Harvey Keitel as 'Sport' Matthew the pimp a role that Keitel himself expanded on after Scorsese offered it to him. A lot of credit had to be given to the screen writer Paul Schrader who went on to become a successful director himself in the 80’s with films such as ‘Cat People’ and ‘American Gigolo’. The quick dialogue and intensity of the scenes build up the tension of the story and at the end the subtle twist really surprises the audience. Schrader had gone through similar experiences as Bickle in his own life and had read both ‘Notes From the Underground’ by Dostoyesky and ‘Nausea’ by Jean Paul Sartre and was heavily influenced by the idea of existentialist alienation when he penned the story. One last memorable detail of the film is the wonderful atmospheric soundtrack composed by Bernard Herrmann who died shortly after the film was completed. In the end Taxi Driver is not only the story of the disturbed Travis Binkle but also of a disturbed society that was struggling to cope with the post Vietnam era. We are presented a view of a country which although seems healthy and prosperous, at ease with itself on the surface, is in fact hiding a sleazy, violent underbelly in which many vulnerable people struggle to survive an are inevitably consumed and corrupted by the darker elements that thrive there. It is a bold and forceful image of America that has remained in alive in popular culture and influenced other directors such as Tarantino to give their own updated 90’s version. In many ways the ‘Taxi Driver’ has foreseen the problems generated by alienation leading to violence in modern America as can be seen in the recent tragic events of the massacres at the Columbine School and other places in the United States. This is an import
ant and truly a classic film! *The film is available on both Video (£5.99) and DVD (£9.99) and the soundtrack can be bought on CD (£13.99) Thanks for reading and rating this opinion. © Mauri 2002 ************************** And finally a word from my sponsor! "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August." All the best Jill!!
This is the harrowing tale of one mans journey into an urban decay of a city and his crumbling life. Robert De Niro gives probably one of his most chilling performances as the taxi driver of the films title Travis Bickle. Travis is back endlessly wandering the streets of New York after serving his time in the marines and finding it difficult to fit back into society. He is indeed a lonely and tortured man as you can imagine. What he comes back to is the place he fought so hard for and he doesn’t like what he sees. He is a victim of Insomnia and plays his nocturnal activities to his advantage and gets himself a job as a taxi driver allowing him to ply his trade during the dark hours of the night. Throughout the film he becomes more mentally unstable and you get to watch his brilliantly played out decline into madness. Travis is a very depressed man and has no one to turn to and there is no one to love in his life. All he can find is the endless amount of scum on the streets. He continues to drift but eventually he spots a beautiful lady (Cybil Shephard) that finally gives him the chance to find something to care about and to bring some normality back to his life. He begins hanging around her workplace trying to pluck up the courage to meet and greet her. Eventually he strides in and gets himself a date after talking with her and not giving in to her declines. The date doesn't go well as you can imagine from a man in his state of mind and after watching a porno movie they depart. Travis continues his rounds on the filthy neon lit streets; this is where the atmosphere really stands out. Steam bursts from the drain covers and prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers line the streets and bring home the disgusting nature of the place Travis works in. He picks up the films co producer Martin Scorsesse and doesn't bat an eyelid as the enraged man talks about killing his wife. You begin to feel for Travis and you have a kind of car crash mentality
as you continue watching just knowing he's about to crack and let loose. On a busy street he picks up a very young prostitute played by Jodie Foster who is frantic to get away from something and jumps into his cab. Before Travis has chance to drive she is dragged from her seat by her pimp Sport (Harvey Keitel). Once he manages to drag her from the car Sport then throws some money at Travis, Travis knows where this filthy note came from and gives Sport a menacing look indicating a possible dislike that you know could well lead to some spilt blood. The story goes on as the repulsing streets take their toll on Travis and his underlying attraction to them continues. You feel as though he is the victim of this hell on Earth and you take pity on him. It's no surprise when Travis flips and finally gets that red mist. Now comes the scene in which he buys some guns to help him to exact his vigilante assault. He creates a unique rail that he hides up his arm allowing him to quickly draw his guns from their concealed position. Eventually Travis vents his frustration and anger in a bloody climax to the film. This is extremely graphic as is the whole film and gore fans will love all the action. The disturbing thing is you feel as though Travis is totally just in what he does after experiencing what he has gone through. The cast are excellent throughout. You get the feeling it's more of a documentary, as De Niro seems so real. The character development is excellent and the near flawless acting help to make this film utterly absorbing. The setting is perfect as is the all round imagery and the film successfully portrays Travis's demise into the vigilante character he becomes. It is utterly compelling and well paced and you will love the way it unfolds. The way Travis is affected and how it is done gives you a great idea of what he his thinking and it's easy to see why he turns like he does. This film is gruelling to say the least, it's g
raphic as far as sex, violence and bodily fluids are concerned and some may not stomach it. It is a true classic however and it's easy to understand why. This is a true cinematic masterpiece.
Taxi Driver is the definitive cinematic portrait of loneliness and alienation manifested as violence. It is as if director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader had tapped into precisely the same source of psychological inspiration ("I just knew I had to make this film", Scorsese would later say), combined with a perfectly timed post-Watergate expression of personal, political and societal anxiety. Robert De Niro, as the tortured, ex-Marine cab driver Travis Bickle, made movie history with his chilling performance as one of the most memorably intense and vividly realised characters ever committed to film. Bickle is a self-appointed vigilante who views his urban beat as an intolerable cesspool of blighted humanity. He plays guardian angel for a young prostitute (Jodie Foster), but not without violently devastating consequences. This masterpiece, which is not for all tastes, is sure to horrify some viewers, but few could deny the film's lasting power and importance. --Jeff Shannon