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Taxi Driver

Essay by   •  September 14, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,769 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,604 Views

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Taxi Driver

I am going to take four scene from the taxi driver and show how the mise-en-scene, cinematography, and editing support Travis BickleЎЇs state of mind and personality.

First I want to state what TravisЎЇs state of mind and personality is throughout most of the film. Travis is isolated from the rest of the world. He feels like he does not fit in with the rest of society. He is looking for a direction, a cause, a reason for his existence and he takes the Taxi job as a way to cope with some of that frustration.

The first scene I want to analyze is the one of Travis first applying to become a taxi driver. To help reinforce TravisЎЇs isolation from the rest of the world, Travis and the interviewer are in separate framing throughout most of the scene. His answers come in either short or stuttered responses. We find out from the interview that Travis had been in the Marines. Travis is still wearing his old marines jacket. We get the impression that the last sense of belonging Travis felt was when he was in the marines. The framing is tight using only medium and close up shots of Travis and the interviewer, keeping Travis away from the rest of the world. There is only the diegetic sound of the taxi garage, no music is playing. When Travis is exiting the garage the camera leaves him and does a panning shot of the garage almost like he is so isolated that the camera itself can become detached from him.

When Travis exitЎЇs the garage the framing becomes much looser. Extreme long shots are used making Travis seem even more isolated from the few people on the street. We then come to TravisЎЇs apartment. While TravisЎЇs voice over is heard speaking about the rain coming and washing away all the filth and scum on the streets we are juxtaposed by the scene of his apartment. His apartment is a visual contradiction to what Travis is saying. There is trash every wear. Clothes are thrown and hung anywhere in no particular order or method. There is a stack of magazines on his bed. All the clutter in his apartment gives us a window into TravisЎЇs state of mind.

There is now a cut to Travis in his taxi. It is night time and we have none diegetic soundtrack playing. Interestingly for the most part the soundtrack only plays when Travis is alone or in the taxi. This again reinforces the sense of isolationism that Travis is feeling. TravisЎЇs voice over is still playing as there is a tracking shot from the taxi as it drives along the looking at the side walk. All the people Travis is speaking about are walking on the sidewalk. After Travis speaks about the ÐŽolowlife that walk the streetÐŽ± with obvious contempt he sayЎЇs that it doesnЎЇt make a difference to him. Travis stops to pickup a man and a prostitute. All the shots are medium shots from the front seat looking in to the back. This again keeps Travis in Isolation from the people he drives. Like he is looking into a window and seeing other peopleЎЇs lives. He has no conversation with the people he drives. He only watches them as he takes them to their location. At one point he goes through street that has water raining down on it from an open fire hydrant. The water completely obscures his vision from the front window and he turns on his windshield wipers to wash it away. This again is reinforcing his state of mind being at odds with everything and wanting to wash it away.

The next scene I want to analyze is that of WizardЎЇs court. Where Travis goes in to have a cup of coffee with Wizard, Doughboy, and Charley T. The scene opens with the camera panning to fallow Travis from inside the cafeteria while he walks in. The film switches to a medium straight on angle shot as Travis sits down on the extreme right of the frame. This is showing how far away he is from the rest of the taxi drivers and the world. As Wizard and Doughboy have their conversation Travis is kept in separate framing or he is kept in the back far right of the frame and out of focus.

When Doughboy asks Travis a question, Travis is preoccupied at staring at the black pimps. The camera leaves Travis and does a tracking shot over to the two pimps sitting at the other table while Doughboy is heard in the background. The camera finally pans back to Travis as he finally hears DoughboyЎЇs question.

Even while he is answering DoughboyЎЇs question TravisЎЇs attention becomes diverted, as the camera cuts to a high angle close up shot of Travis opening a bottle and dropping a tablet of Alka-Seltzer into a glass of water. As Doughboy is speaking to him the sound is turned down and Doughboy can be barely heard over the sound of the Alka-Seltzer fizzing. There is a low angle zoom-in close up shot of Travis as he stares at the glass and the it changes back to an extreme close up of the fizzing glass. TravisЎЇs thoughts are completely consumed by the glass as we get the feeling that his mental state is much the same as that of the fizzing glass.

After an extended period of time the camera finally comes back to a medium shot of Travis and Doughboy who is now on the right side of Travis. Doughboy is standing over Travis and crowding him into the lower left hand corner of the frame. This probably resembles TravisЎЇs mental state as he probably feels crowded and uncomfortable with having to talk with Doughboy especially with him so close.

After Doughboy leaves there is an uneasy silence between Travis and Wizard & Charley T. Travis is again put in the very far right of the frame and now seems

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