Right, breath in and out……..Let’s go. Taxi Driver is a flick that can not be written about lightly. It is in fact damn right hard to discuss due to it’s huge success, impressive credentials and master class method acting. So I shall take it from the top. Directed by the great Martin Scorsese and distributed by Columbia pictures in 1976, Taxi Driver has been quoted by Forbes as “one of the greatest films of all time”. The film boasts four Academy Award nominations including best picture, obtaining the Palme d’Ore at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival and rated 31 as the greatest films ever made by Sight and Sound. But what is it about this psychological thriller/drama/film-noir masterpiece that has made it so special? Sit back and read on my friends as I will do my best to explain.
The film follows Travis Bickle (De Niro), a Vietnam veteran trying to make an honest living in the big city. To grasp the mirage that is honest living in 1970’s New York Travis decides to drive a cab, however with this comes serious implications…
1. He meet’s a lot of different people
2. He see’s a lot of different places
3. He hears a lot of things
These three points expose Travis to the reality that is a progressive and changing city. Socially, culturally and physically New York city is not a place for a fragile minded Vietnam Veteran. As the stress and horror of what Travis describes to Senator Charles Palantine (to whom ends up in the back of his cab) as “an open sewer” begin to mount, Travis’s thought on the city and what type of action he should take begin to turn violent. It would seem that action has to be taken into his own hands to rectify the problems with New York.
But what are these problems? Well after watching the film I picked out what I refer to as the three P’S. Pimps, Pushers and prostitutes ( a Pusher is a drug dealer to you and I). It is when Travis identifies the three P’s as being the central issue with the city the audience receive a subtle treat. On one of his night shifts he is told to drive to an apartment block with a rather disgruntled, erratic and irritated man…The man is Scorsese himself appearing in his film to amplify the strain of New York life and to highlight how violence and destruction is not only taking its toll on Travis’s psyche, but to potentially hundreds if not thousands of other New Yorkers as well, check out Scorsese scene below.
Now the interesting part in the scene is what Scorsese has to say, sure his wife is having an affair, I think any warm blooded male would feel some hostilities towards that. It is the fact that his pain is heightened because his wife is, how he puts it “Fucking a nigger”. This once again points out the cultural and social changes happening in America that not only Travis is finding difficult to deal with but many others as well.
Travis purchases a gun, he actually purchases a few guns, a big fuck off gun and a few other hand guns from a shady bloke in a crappy hotel room. He begins to make contraptions to conceal the guns in which the famous, improvised ‘are you talking to me’? scene was created.
Now I am not going to go on and on (for much longer anyway) as I do not want to give away the ending for those who have not seen the film. But I must leave you with this. See this film! See it right now because it is truly a masterpiece of cinema that will leave you thinking long and hard about the society we live in and where we fit in to that enormous jigsaw puzzle. I rate the film as a full blown 10/10 as for me everything drom the acting, lighting, scenery, music, characters, language, violence, story etc etc etc is perfect! I now leave you with an interesting 1940’s style theme tune from the film.