Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taxi Driver

I ride around most nights - subways, buses - but you know, if I'm gonna do that
I might as well get paid for it.
--Travis Bickle

Recently, I watched Martin Scorsese's excellent 1976 film, Taxi Driver. It's been about ten years since the last time I saw it; dazzling and intense as ever, but especially crisp having been digitally remastered.

In the first few minutes, the audience is immediately drawn into the lonely isolation of the main character, Travis Bickle. From the opening shots: New York City at night, traffic, run-down neighborhoods, a windshield, a taxicab slowly cutting though the steam that rises from the sewer, we are seeing the world through Travis Bickle's point of view. Scorsese transports us inside a troubled mind so expertly, there is no room to doubt or question any action as it takes place. The transference from the viewer to Travis is seamless, and takes only a few minutes, which is an amazing feat.

Paul Schrader was 26 years old and destitute when he wrote the superb screenplay, supposedly in five days. Robert De Niro lost 35 pounds and drove a taxi for a month to prepare for his role as Travis Bickle.

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