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23 December 2011

Taxi Driver (1976) [70's Marathon] 15#

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Country: USA
Runtime: 113 Minutes
“On every street in every city, there’s a nobody who dreams of being somebody” This film is practically flawless, exhilarating, powerful and definitely one of the best films to come out of Martin Scorsese and cinema for that matter. Robert De Niro was legendary as the confined taxi driver Travis, and he truly captures the audience as a great protagonist. Scorsese directs like a genius by not giving the film a big unique style, but telling a story from a taxi driver’s perspective and telling it perfectly as he spirals into insanity. This is a must-see film for filmgoers. 

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a lonely taxi driver who lives in New York works the nightshift, driving his cab throughout decaying mid-'70s New York City, wishing for a "real rain" to wash the "scum" off the neon-lit streets. Chronically alone, Travis cannot connect with anyone, not even with such other cabbies as blowhard Wizard (Peter Boyle). He becomes infatuated with vapid blonde presidential campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), who agrees to a date and then spurns Travis when he cluelessly takes her to a porno movie. Not long after, the increasingly paranoid Travis begins to condition (and arm) himself for his imagined destiny, a mission that mutates from assassinating Betsy's candidate, Charles Palatine (Leonard Harris), to violently "saving" teen hooker Iris (Jodie Foster) from her pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel).

Robert De Niro’s performance was simply phenomenal. De Niro completely captures the essence of Travis Bickle, a taxi driver who eventually ‘stands up’ with great under study. His character is a protagonist that we truly care about; even up to the film’s final moments were its rather bloody finale makes us still see him as a hero even as the newspapers claim in the film. However, he is not your usual hero. 

Bickle is an anti-hero who from the start is a taxi driver with the want of being a somebody and a person with feelings who is sensitive. As the film progresses, Bickle spirals to insanity becoming more and more psychotic, and De Niro pulls it off so convincingly, making him one of the best method actors ever. This character is a fine example of the 70’s new wave of films as the ‘anti-hero’ concept was not common in cinema.

Here is a fascinating fact for you. Are you wondering how old young Jodie foster was during production of this film? 13 years of age when she was first assigned to the film, yes that is right. It is clear that Foster was talented form the beginning with films like this and “Bugsy Malone” in the same year as this. Foster is one of the best actresses ever and seeing her in “The Silence of the Lambs” proves this, and her younger self here is no exception.

For some of the more provocative and ‘sexually suggestive’ shots in the film, such as when Iris is unzipping Travis, her sister was doing the action. You would never notice this either, as they literally almost look the same despite the 8 year age gap. Fosters performance was exquisite and she is definitely ahead of her age. Her short role was reasonably well done.

Scorsese is definitely a brilliant director (and actor in his small cameo as the nutty man who gets in Travis’s cab), and with the work he done with this film he definitely deserves to be called one of my favourites, and one of the best in the film industry. Scorsese tells the story of a simple man who goes crazy perfectly. Through his many interesting shots (like the shot that follows Bickle at his workplace were the taxis are and then it loses him and looks at the taxis, then returns to Bickle and begins following him again) and narrative style, the film has cinematography and Misé-en-scene that make it a truly phenomenal film. Even his choice for the music composer Bernard Hermann, his first time working with a composer, was excellent. The music throughout was well assembled and composed, fitting the film wonderfully. In addition, lest I forget the amazingly laid-back theme that plays several time throughout the film.

The way Scorsese captured things is what makes the film so beautiful. Of course, we cannot go without commenting on the terrific script that was brought to Scorsese’s attention. Paul Schrader wrote the script and he did a banging job at it. The story is golden because it tells the story of character, from his perspective, and does it perfectly. It also captures how society can do things like this to people, and there are people out there who have feeling like Travis Bickle, which is another reason the film has had such great acclaim; people can relate to it. Ask yourself, have you ever been angry at society in one way or another? In all honesty, I have had some things that annoy me in society, but I am not saying I have wanted to harm anyone, just saying.
The film has definitely left a mark on filmgoers and movie lovers. The scene were Travis is in his apartment alone, and he looks in the mirror saying the infamous line “You talkin’ to me?”, has become extremely known in the movie world, and even to the average person. I knew this line before the film came out, which shows it has gotten around.  The great thing about this scene is it captures how people, when alone, would do things in the mirror. In Travis’s case, it is trying to be intimidating. This infamous scene was improvised by De Niro and the scene captures Travis’s obsession and his transformation into a somewhat psycho. 
The film’s climax is unbelievably powerful and quite violent. The scene was extremely well done for a 70’s film. The films violent end sequence has had many interpretations, and the scene had to be de-saturated to hold its R rating. By this, it meant to tone down the colour of the blood, which is quite a shame. I will not discuss the scene with you because that would be a big spoiler, but I will say a few things on it. The ending shows us Bickle being heroic in his own way and for me, the interpretation I he remains a hero, but an anti-hero. 
In 1976, the film took home five awards, including Best Actor for De Niro. Today, “Taxi Driver” is still known as one of the greatest films of all time by film critics, institutions and filmgoers. Excuse me if I babbled in this review about basically every aspect and including many facts, but there is a lot to say about this fantastic film. This is truly one of cinemas most powerful films that is practically flawless in my eyes and definitely one of my all-time favourites. Here is to a film that proves that film is a fascinating, expressive and exhilarating medium.

My Rating: 10/10

Additional Information:
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Produced by: Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips
Age Certificate: R (18)
Top 250 IMDB Ranking: 43#
AFI's 100 Years 100 Thrills Ranking: 22#


  1. It's been quite a few years since I saw this. I may have to watch it again soon.

    You are correct that that quote is very famous. It has been copied and parodied many, many times. You can even see Deniro himself do a different version of it in the movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. (Deniro produced this live action movie of the 1960s cartoon show and has a small role as Fearless Leader.) I think he probably got a kick out of doing his own parody of the lines.

  2. I didnt know that was De Niro! Why did he do that! Thanks for reading :)

  3. Fantastic review. I have to watch this one again before I review it, great stuff, one of your best

  4. Its preety cool article. Thanks for sharing this article with us. Regard.



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