Taxi Driver Article Review Example
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Taxi driver is 1976 Martin Scorsese movie. It was a masterpiece all the way. It received a lot of critical acclaim and awards. The movie is about a lonely and strange character called Travis Bickle, portrayed by Robert De Niro. Travis Bickle is a Vietnam War veteran, tormented and hurt from his past experiences. He is lonely and dark. He has the most mysterious past and that reflects highly on his current personality and psychology. The movie subjectively focuses and revolves around him and his nightmarish life in Manhattan, New York. This paper will explore significant elements of this movie with some analytical insights on the story, direction style and characters. The aim of this paper is to identify the elements that make this movie a visual masterpiece from Scorsese.
The movie begins with a slow motion entrance of a taxi in the foggy manholes followed by the credits. The credits mentioned the star of the show, Robert de Niro in the beginning. So, the intention of the director are very clear from the very first minute of the movie that the movie is a subjective portrayal of Manhattan and Travis Bickle through the conduit of taxi driver as profession.
This movie is a bit unusual from Scorsese according to Canby, Vincent. (Feb 8), Scorsese movies are filled usually filled with violence, strong and suggestive language and a centralized character that is either a criminal or an anti-social person. The movie than revolves around the rise and fall of that character with supporting cast and characters that showcase the dark world of crime and punishment. But, in the case of ‘Taxi driver’, Scorsese has taken a detour in regards of direction, narration, pace of the movie and storyline.
Here, the movie is not about the rise and fall of Travis Bickle, in contrary, it showcases his routine life for the first half of the movie. Here the main character is not an inborn criminal, but the experience that he gets throughout his ventures in the city turns him into a criminal. The movie does have brutal violence in the climax, but not as much as ‘Casino’ or ‘Goodfellas’, which were future works of Scorsese after ‘Taxi Driver’. So, one thing is very clear that Scorsese’s creativity in this movie is invested in representing the character of Travis and his ugly, tormented life in New York.
For a war veteran like Travis, the days are worst and the nights are nightmares. There is absolutely no sleep in his life. His mysterious and haunting past that the movie does not focus is intriguingly influences his present. The best part of the movie is the background narration in De Niro’s own voice. Niro has narrated the cruel experiences of nights of the ugliest parts of Manhattan that Travis Bickle encountered with utmost perfection with his voice.
If one takes a deeper look in Travis’s personality, it is easy to find that he is frustrated. He is alone and fro reasons unknown stays away from his family by choice. With no companionship, he finds a way to spend his sleepless nights productively by driving taxi around the city. His intentions were purely productive, but the city dragged his psyche into the traps of violence, crime and prostitution. The night shift in dark part of the city are filled with filth, crime, and expendable sex market. He is observant, so he observes all this. He tries his best to keep away from all this nuisance for a long time. But, after a certain threshold, he gives up. He decides to take matters in his own hands.
The first half of the movie is intriguingly slow paced. The tempo of the story does not rise until the climax. This style of storytelling keeps the audience attached to their seats till the end. The director, in order to keep the focus on the current life and psyche of Travis, keeps his past hidden from the audience. He lets the audience imagine the cause for the ‘strange’ nature of Travis. When he starts to practice the firearms and exercise, the big and ugly scar on his back is the only hint about his past.
His introvert personality is also very evident from the very beginning of the movie. He goes to this café daily and meets with his ‘so called’ colleagues. He tries his best to avoid any personal conversations with them. His passengers in the taxi, are usually unpleasant and complicated. According to Roger Ebert, the subjective portrayal of Travis Bickle is the added advantage in this movie. Especially, in the scene where he faces the rejection from the beautiful blonde, working for the precedency candidate. She was the only hope in his life to have a shot at being social again. He tried his best to woo her, but his obvious charm fails. This rejection, marks the beginning of his darker side in the movie. (Roger Ebert, 1976).
Lie gives him another shot at salvation where numerous encounters of him with one young prostitute gives him a feeling of sympathy. He thinks that if he can save a 12 year old girl from the filth of the profession, he can save himself. In the process of salvaging pieces of his broken life and mind, he unintentionally enters into dark world of criminality. What amuses most is that he is unaware of his actions. He is blindfolded by the burning desire of clearing the filth from the streets.
There are only a certain types of people who enters in army, some are patriots, some are following the family tradition, some are for the adrenaline and some are for the justice. Travis Bickle wanted the justice, but he is too shy to depend on the system to do so. He wants to take the matter in his own hands. The smug smile that he gives when he listens to the speech of Palentine for presidency is the proof of that. He certainly has decided to give his life for a cause. He have had enough of the frustration and rejections. When he goes out in the world, the only things that he finds are the loneliness, rejection form the people he loves and filth of the society. He had no options but to resolve these conflicts on his own. Hence, he decide to by a set of arsenal to fight his civil war.
The paths that he chose to fight his issues were wrong ones, but his intentions were pure. In his mind, he wanted to save the girl from the scum pimp who owned her. The only way he knew how to do that was to kill him point blank. While having the breakfast with her, he confessed to her about his intention of rescuing her. He told her that he would be gone out for some time. He also wrote her a letter filled with money as a declaration of anticipation of his possible death scenario. In one of the scenes, he takes a sort of guidance from his friend where he tells him that he has got some pretty bad ideas.
His exploration of the late night New York City is also a piece of art from Scorsese. What he observes during his travel is the low-life creatures of night crawling into the sewers of criminality. He is a patriot war veteran, who devoted his life to fend off the enemies off the borders. After honorable discharge, he comes to the social life and finds the ugly side of it. The visionary director brings the reality of the streets of New York to the doorsteps of the audience. It is the ugly truth of society. In his narration, he tells that every night after the shift, he needs to clean his back seat off the blood or the ‘come’ from the customers. He tries his best to avoid the personal entanglement with any of his customers, but this one girl he cannot resist. He keeps staring at the 20 dollars bill in many occasions to show his internal fight between his moralities and self-restrain.
The film is shot beautifully from the crafty hands of Scorsese. The legendary scene that defines the movie was the mirror scene. He practices his craft of gun wielding in front of the mirror. He wants to be as casual as possible. He pretends to be talking to his target in casual conversation like, “you talking’ to me?” he practices the gun pulling to the perfection, which comes in handy when he encounters the villains in the climax.
The climax scene is beautifully shot by Scorsese. The journey of Travis meets a dramatic end. He stands in front of the pimp who fails to recognize him due to his strange hairstyle. He asks him about Iris, and all of a sudden he shoots him in the belly. He sits on the steps of the building to take a moment for himself. Then he goes guns blazing toward the old, fat manager and blows his fingers off. He takes a bullet to his neck off-guardedly from the same injured pimp and yet finishes him off. His brutal extravaganza comes to an end after the death of other two people and successful rescue of the prostitute.
Surprising turn of event occurs when he becomes a hero who battled his way against three armed men to save a young girl. The parents of the prostitute writes him the letter of gratitude. He becomes a hero on the press. He resumes his normal life as a taxi driver post publicity. Due to his encouraging acts of heroism, he gets another shot at companionship from his old love interest also.
Canby, Vincent. (Feb 8). Taxi Driver (1976). [Review of the Motion Picture]. The New York Times,
In this New York Times review of the movie ‘Taxi Driver’ the author clearly explains the plot and creative work of Scorsese in its true sense. The admiration of the author about the direction, cameras, story, action, acting and plot is very engaging. The author manages to find out the audacity to explain the unorthodox style of Scorsese’s filmmaking in this review. He also points out the keen acting talent of Mr. De Niro and the excellent supportive cast of the film.
Ebert, Roger. (1980, Jan 1). TAXI DRIVER. [Review of the Motion Picture]. Roger Ebert,
In this brief Review of the movie, Roger Ebert describes the live experience of the movie. His review is to the point and engaging. He writes about some specific scenes and important moments of the movie that were greatly influencing the essence of the movie. His exploration and interpretation of the characters and story. He also takes references from other works of Scorsese and the actors. He creatively explains the significance of the movie.
HUMANICK, ROB. (2011, Mar 17). Taxi Driver Film Review. [Review of the Motion Picture]. Slant Magazine,
In this magazine review of the movie, the author describes the movie in detail. He points out the exercise of subjectivity as the style of this movie. That kind of filmmaking is very popular with Scorsese. The review explains the plot briefly and creatively. The character description and analysis is crisp and clear in this review. The author brings the truth to the reader’s attention by giving the transparent opinions about the movie as a whole.
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