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Taxi Driver DVD
Taxi Driver (DVD)
Member Name: DVDKing
Taxi Driver (DVD)
Date: 30/09/00, updated on 30/09/00 (146 review reads)
Advantages: High quality transfer of a defining film, backed by many valuable extras.
Disadvantages: No remix for the sound.
Type: DVD 9 - Dual Layer, Single Sided.
Region: 2 (UK and Europe)
Running Time: 109 minutes
Rating: 18 (no cuts made by BBFC)
Picture Format: Widescreen, 1.85:1
Audio: English (Dolby 2.0), German & French (Mono)
Subtitles: English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, French, Dutch, German, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian.
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Documentary, Photo Montage, Storyboard Comparison, Original Screenplay, Advertising Materials, Biographies.
A former Vietnam soldier (Robert De Niro) takes up a job driving taxis round the worst areas of New York in an attempt to combat his inability to sleep and profound loneliness. After a failed attempt at a relationship with a politician’s aide, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he determines to clean up the streets himself, in the process becoming an urban hero.
After the success of Mean Streets in 1973, De Niro and Martin Scorsese got the chance to team up again (with the addition of writer Paul Schrader), and produced one of the defining films of the seventies. Although it was extremely controversial on its release, by modern standards it is not particularly violent (the violence being mainly limited to a few minutes towards the end of the film), but because of it seriousness and truthfulness, it still comes across as very hard hitting and effective. With modern society becoming increasingly isolating and disconnected, the number of people who can relate to the central character’s alienating experience of the world is only likely to grow, meaning this film is just as relevant today as when it was first released.
The transfer onto DVD is excellent, with the film lo
oking surprisingly good considering its age with no artefacts to distract from your enjoyment. One point to note though, is that the colours of the climatic shootout were originally toned down to appease the censors by lessening the effect of the blood on show. The restoration for DVD potentially offered an opportunity to correct this, but sadly the original print has deteriorated too much to be usable, and so this was not possible.
The audio for the English language version is the original stereo mix, though both the German and French tracks are in mono. This saves objections from purists, but I always believe that to make full use of the DVD format, new 5.1 or DTS (or both!) soundtracks should be provided along with the original on a separate track so people have the option. Definitely the final sequence would be improved by a remix, but in general the street scenes would most likely have a better ambience too.
Having said that, by itself, there is nothing wrong with the soundtrack, especially considering the fact that it features another great score (his last) from one of the most inventive and important film composers - Bernard Herrmann.
The extras on this are not only impressive from the point of view of the number you get, but equally each one is well executed and in total they provide comprehensive coverage of the film’s production and reception
As per usual you get the theatrical trailer. The most notable thing about this is that it does seem to be trying to mislead audiences into thinking Robert De Niro’s character is going to attempt to kill Cybill Shepherd. Consequently, the actual film was bound to have something of a surprise to audiences the first time they saw it.
The documentary is a very extensive look (70 mins in total) at the making of the film and covers almost every aspect you could conceivably think of, including a very detailed through look at the special effect
s (or editing tricks) employed in the climatic shootout. One of the most comprehensive and interesting documentaries I have seen on a DVD.
The photo montage gallery displays various production photographs concentrating on Scorsese and his actors. Over the top of this, the DVD producer gives a few more anecdotes which failed to make it into the documentary. The only slight criticism I would have of this is that the photos could perhaps be better matched to the commentary. For example, when he talks about Bernard Herrmann, this could be backed by some pictures of him. However, taken separately, the voice-over and photos are still very good.
The next extra focuses on the climatic shootout, and cuts together the original storyboard drawings with still shots from the film, and shows how close the final result was to Scorsese’s original conception of it.
Another excellent extra is Paul Schader’s original sceenplay complete with coffee-cup stains. While I was a little unsure of how well this would work, it never being the most comfortable thing in the world reading large amounts of text on screen, thankfully it has been broken up into lots of sections which means you can read a bit at a time. A neat feature is the ability to jump from the screenplay into the appropriate part of the film (and back again) so you can see what changes were made during production. This is probably my favourite extra on the disc, as it really does give you extra insight into the film and the script is an excellent read.
The next extra is another montage gallery, this time showing the various posters and promotional material that was used to advertise the film.
Finally we have the seemingly obligatory biographies, which cover the main cast and Scorcesse. These are pretty basic, covering only awards and a filmography for each of those featured, but they are at least well presented.
The disc comes in an Amaray case alo
ng with a simple sheet which simply lists the chapter stops of the main film (does anyone ever use these?)
Most importantly of all, this film has had an excellent transfer to disc, with the only possible improvement being a new remix of the soundtrack. On top of this, it comes as something of surprise at the sheer number and quality of the extras that add a lot of value to this disc, and make it an essential purchase.