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Review of Taxi Driver

Essay by   •  December 17, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,155 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,699 Views

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Synopsis

Vietnam veteran Travis Bicklea finds that his life has been turned upside down after returning America from the battle-field. He suffers from the insomnia and sense of isolation, which leads him to take a job as taxi-driver at night; many of his customers represent the people from the lowest class of society: prostitutes, adulterous husbands and wenchers. Since Travis has promised the cab company that he will drive anywhere, at anytime, his likelihood of seeing the best of human nature is fairly slim. So, he tries to create an extra-occupational life for himself. He befriends Betsy, a beautiful girl working at a Senator's campaign office. Unluckily, with on possession of the slightest amount of social skills, Travis takes her to a porn movie on their first date, so Betsy rejects him and refuses to see him anymore. Then another girl bumps into TravisЎЇs life. One day, a prepubescent prostitute who is desperately trying to escape from her pimp named Sport (Keitel). Travis is touched by her plight and resolves to assist her, despite her later unwillingness to cooperate. Meanwhile, Betsy refuses to accept his repeated attempts to apologize, and he begins to go psychotic under the force of various pressures. Travis purchases several semi-automatic guns, takes up a rigorous physical training, shapes his hair into a bristly-looking Mohawk, and decides to assassinate the candidate for whom Betsy is working. After his attempt to assassinate the senator failed, Travis then goes after Sport, killing him and a Mafioso who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in a spray of bullets. After this massacre, Travis tries to kill himself in Iris's room, but has wasted so many bullets that he has none left with which to commit suicide. Nevertheless, his bloodbath turns him into a media hero, and Betsy suddenly discovers an interest in him. In turn, Travis rejects her, and he drives off into the night toward an uncertain future.

Film-making

Martin Scorsese truly captures the film with his evocative directing where he often use slow-mo camera shots and dark, eye-wielding camera angles to capture the decay of New York City. Scorsese is in top form with his directing where he makes the camera use as a viewpoint of BickleЎЇs character or as a third party watching BickleЎЇs descent into paranoia and madness. Even with the filmЎЇs final act where it comes to the level of violence, Scorsese doesnЎЇt play around where he just brings the realism right at the face of its audience. Especially in a scene where Bickle saves a manЎЇs life from a robbery where he gets away with murder as the clerk would beat up the dead manЎЇs body. Though it might have seem gruesome at the time, Scorsese doesnЎЇt pull back where he doesnЎЇt give any clear answer of Bickle, in the terms of becoming normal. This is by far some top-notch directing from one of NYCЎЇs greatest visionaries.

In Taxi Driver, Scorsese manages his camera angles and editing to emphasize Travis seeing the world through glass or mirrors, especially the windshield and rear-view mirror of the taxi, through which all major characters enter Taxi Driver: Betsy through the panes of an all-- glass office; Palantine through his rear-view mirror; and Iris and Sport in a fleeting glance in his mirror. As Travis meets with a black-market gun dealer, and in this scene the weapon literally becomes the organ of perception. Scorsese situates his camera on Travis' arm as that arm takes the weapon and slowly pans it across the window looking down on the street below. Finally, in the scene which has made Travis Bickle a cinematic icon ("Are you talking to me?"), Travis looks into his mirror, challenges imaginary adversaries, and draws his various weapons in assault. The ambiguity of the image is poignant: Travis looks into a mirror and makes a self-destructive gesture foreshadowing his attempted suicide at the climax of the film, and Travis peers through the looking glass and responds to a singularly inhospitable world. The images of glass, mirrors, and eyes become linked to the leading actorЎЇs perception of this spiritually bankrupt world.

Success and failure

Success

De NiroЎЇs wonderful performance

the filmЎЇs greatest performance without a doubt go to Robert De Niro.n He brought a complex, multi-layered performance of the troubled young man who believes he can save the world, however he cannot save himself. One thing should be draw your attention that De Niro himself worked as a New York night shift cabbie for a few months in order to prepare for this challenging role.

Terrific film music

The music and the film itself fit together naturally. Bernard Herrmann, the song-writer had an extraordinary feel for the pace or tempo, a musical term, of a given scene. And he knew that when you add a piece of music to a scene, and if it's just the right piece of music, hitting at just the right instant r. the use of proper musical piece can reflect the inner world of Travis, and produce an emotional echo with the audience. In a word, the music used matches the film perfectly.

Failure

Some flaws in its continuity.

Continuity: While De Niro is talking to Jodie Foster you can see a bus out the window. When the screen switches to Jodie Foster's view you can see the same bus driving, but then it changes back to De Niro's view you see the same bus driving up to the window again. This keeps happening throughout the scene, the bus keeps driving around the building.

Continuity: In the scene at the diner, where Travis puts a soluble tablet in a glass of water, you can see a plate of open cheeseburger in front of him. But Travis never ordered, nor received any cheeseburgers. He only ordered and received a cup of coffee only.

Continuity: In the scene where De Niro shoots and kills the man robbing the convenience store, the clerk takes De Niro's gun off of him and starts beating the already dead body with a pole. If you watch the scene carefully, the dead body changes positions contrary to how the man is hitting him. Clearly the scene was shot several times with the dead body being placed in different positions.

Visible crew/equipment: In the scene where Robert De Niro shoots Sport the pimp in the stomach, the bullet supposedly goes through Sport's back, and blood splatters onto the doorway

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