- March 2017– viewing #? maybe 8
- It blows you back with Bernard Herrmann’s score. It’s one of, if not his overall best musical score which makes it one of the best 20-25 scores of all-time automatically
- Such detail in the mise-en-scene here with the steam pouring from the sewers
- The film’s roots and influences both prior to taxi driver and since are so rich—just a few are bresson (certainly the existential crisis and man along is similar to pickpocket (Schrader loved bresson and pickpocket and in his book he cites it as a definite influence). The film has a similar copy in later film, directed by schrader himself, in hardcore (1979). Clearly its main influence is the searchers which the film could essentially be called sort of an updated remake. Keitel is Scar, foster is Debbie, the Indians, so on
- The “stomach cancer” line is also from Bresson- it’s from diary of a country priest which both Schrader and Scorsese love- this reference and symbolic inner angst is also referenced later in spike lee’s clockers (1995)
- Certainly the film is a medication on alienation…urban decay.. men lost post-Vietnam
- Outstanding work by michael chapman the DP
- The slow-motion work from scorsese- and I pilfered a bit of this from Ebert- is not just a way to show people looking cool in a scorsese film but a way of showing a POV with a heightened sense of awareness from Travis- for example the first time he sees the stunningly gorgeous cybill shepherd
- Other influences can certainly be seen in PT Anderson’s work (I think punch drunk love has a ton in common with taxi driver) along with the louis bloom character portrayed so well by Jake Gyllenhaal in nightcrawler
- The movie is considered one of the best screenplays of all-time- but it’s also a film of intentional awkwardness (as Travis shows he can’t fit in this world) and purposeful banality (cheesy jokes and attempts at humor like his “organi-ized” joke and the silly card he buys and writes to his parents”
- The pulling away from the scene to show isolation while he’s on the phone is done and updated in reservoir dogs (casting Keitel as well) by Tarantino
- The ending’s gorgeous ceiling shot- the “priest’s eye view” as Scorsese calls it—is stunning
- Herrmann’s score reminds me of (it predates it of course) the harmonium character cues used in PT Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love another immaculate character-driven film—Herrmann’s score has the soft jazz elements (like the harmonium) and then the hard-driving break (like the car crash in PDL)
- A portrait of a monster- a meditation on urban alienation and Scorsese’s second masterpiece, one of the seminal films of the era, Scorsese’s body of owrk, and cinema history in total
- Slow-motion in abundance and to great effect. Travis’ fixation on Cybill Sheperd’s Betsy, his racism as he stares down the black characters in the film (hello Searchers), his solitariness again while he walks down the crowded streets on his own.
- Great work here from J. Hoberman in the Village Voice- “Lasting nearly 20 minutes and fueled by Bernard Herrmann’s rhapsodic score, the de facto overture is a densely edited salmagundi of effects—slow motion, fragmenting close-ups, voluptuous camera moves, and trick camera placement—that may be the showiest pure filmmaking in any Hollywood movie since Touch of Evil. Certainly no American since Welles had so confidently presented himself as a star director. And yet Taxi Driver was essentially collaborative. It was the most cinephilic movie ever made in Hollywood, openly acknowledging Bresson, Hitchcock, Godard, avant-gardists Michael Snow and Kenneth Anger, and the John Ford of The Searchers.”
- Pauline Kael in the New Yorker, “- Taxi Driver” is a movie in heat, a raw, tabloid version of “Notes from Underground,” and we stay with the protagonist’s hatreds all the way. But Scorsese is also the most carnal of directors—movement is ecstatic for him—and that side of him didn’t come out in “Alice”. Taxi Driver” one of the few truly modern horror films.”
- Shay Casey from “FilmFocus”- “Is Travis a hero or a monster? The question is never answered to any satisfying degree, and Herrmann’s score makes sure of that by always playing up the counterpoint of a scene”
- “Like Werner Herzog’s Aguirre or Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver is auteurist psychodrama.” Hoberman again in Village Voice
- Its flawless from beginning to end- the bleeding lights on the windshield during the titles until the final ride and rearview double-check with Cybil at the end.
- The use of color saturation- red here- and the use of close-up on De Niro – expressionism
- Schrader’s voice-over grounds us, the Herrmann score driving home the larger macro themes—this leaves Scorsese free to dazzle us in-between with his muscular direction. He is directing the hell out of almost every scene.
- I don’t want to take away from Paul Schrader’s magnificent screenplay “I’m God’s Lonely Man”- wow —but there is a lot of non-dialogue scenes and that’s almost all Scorsese. In the dialogue sequences—it’s almost all De Niro (this is one of cinema’s greatest single performances by an actor). Even if it’s on the page the way De Niro makes every social interaction an abject disaster is such an impressive feat of acting. – his swearing and “I get headaches this city is so dirty” with the Senator in the cab. How he cluelessly takes Cybil to a porno. The awkward advice from Peter Boyle—haha
- More Searchers/John Wayne—I mean Scorsese has this in the text of 2 of his first 4 films- and here outside of the story outline—we have Keitel with “you’re a real cowboy” to Travis
- Seedy mise-en-scene- steam from the streets, dark, neon lighting- it’s almost a precursor to Blade Runner– it looks like a dystopia
- The major revelation for me in this viewing is the use of color.—specifically yellow. It’s not quite Kieslowski’s Blue but it’s loud. Travis is constantly wearing yellow shirts, Foster has yellow glasses, the yellow sheets on the bed of the gun salesman scene, that harsh lighting in his tiny apartment makes the wall yellow, the convenience store robber that Travis shoots has a loud yellow shirt – schnapps liquor bottle, yellow aspirin—it’s there—perhaps the best scene in the film is the tracking shot going from De Niro in the phone booth (yellow background) to the empty hall showing his disconnection. Brilliant
- The ensemble is genius—Cybil has never been better,Scorsese in the back of the cab… Foster, Keitel is great.
- I also noticed during the climax that Herrmann’s score scales out of control. Incredible work
- A series of dissolves during the God’s eye view ceiling tracking shot. A perfect editing transition after a slow tracking shot
- The best film of 1976
The movie that made me obsessed with cinema. Perfection.
@ Matt Harris — thanks for the visit and comment. It truly is a work of art. A film that gets better with each viewing.
to me taxi driver is equal to raging bull. it used to be in roger ebert’s top ten of all time (taxi) but he decided to replace it with raging bull as bull is a bit more personal for scorsese with the addiction and hospitilization and all. still to me they are together the second greatest film of all time after the wizard of oz. i keep updating my list but right now
@M _I don’t have a problem if you have this the equal of Raging Bull. They’re both utterly amazing and among cinema’s greatest singular works.
My Favorite Movie Of All Time And my pick for the Best Movie Of The 70s just a brilliant Movie from start to finish and Robert DeNiro gives the best Performance in Cinema History here.
@Randy– thanks for the message and for adding to the page here. Taxi Driver gets better every time I see it.
Do you think Robert De Niro should have won the academy award for best actor for Taxi Driver?
Drake do you think this has top ten potential. As for your top ten I think searchers joan of arc and 2001 are clearly better. Sadly i have yet to see Tokyo story or stalker. I think it’s visuals are nearly as good as Apoclypse now and sheets voiceover is superior but deniro is altogether better. I think it took some ideas and motifs from hitchcocks vertigo like the red lights and didn’t improve upon the color aspect but is certainly an emotionally richer film. As for blade runner again a masterpiece and I think Herman’s score is slightly worse than vangelis blade runner (one of my three favrotie film scores along with jurassic park and gone with the wind). I’d say though that de niro is better than ford in the film and that the story trumps blade runners and obviously there are some amazing images. I think the tracking ahot of all the city lights is just as good neo noir as blade runner (or almost as good).
As for raging bull I think that taxi driver would be slightly superior. They deal with similar themes of loneliness like how Lamott destroys his relationships with his bro and wife but i think bickle taking cybill shepherd to a porno is an even better representation of loneliness. Also i dont know if a shot equals the red in the black and white ring (superior even to schindlers list) but again the story I’d say is even richer. I do think pesci was much better in bull than the great harvey keitels pimp but still I thought de niro as Travis is almost unmatchable. Plus id say the catharsis of Lamott reconciling with peace isn’t as great as travis saving Jodi foster and making up with shepherd. Sorry for commenting constantly and with long spiels but I really enjoy this site and the discussions.
Hello. Here’s a tip, you can watch Stalker on a YouTube channel, completely legal in HD called Mosfilm.
As for Tokyo Story, i think, it’s free on YouTube, i don’t remember if it’s legal or not haha.
If you don’t like watching them on a computer like me, just connect it to tv.
@aldo thank you. i will try to get to them soon
@D.WGriffith- thanks again for the comment- I love the level of detail in the breakdown here even if I may not agree with every break you push Taxi Driver’s way. You (or anyone else) wouldn’t get a long argument from me if told me Taxi Driver deserved to be in the top 10.
I’m surprised to see you mention The Searchers as the primary influence here (which I’m not denying it’s a strong one) which I would contend as rather being Breathless, not that you’ll get a strong argument from me. I don’t know. I think it’s more Searchers narratively but Breathless stylistically, especially in aspects of the characterization of Travis, but I can get behind the comparisons to Ethan Edwards with the racism and that stuff.
@Zane. Mmm, i don’t know, thematically and in narrative structure it’s a remake of the searchers. See this article.
Scorsese, Schrader and Spielberg are fans of the searchers, and they see it at least once a year as a ritual.
I had never commented on this film, it fantastic, but that conclusion left me a bittersweet taste, i would have preferred a Kurosawa-style ending, it is something “sappy” that end. Schrader himself admitted it.
@Aldo Yes, I’m with you on it narratively being an update of The Searchers. You can see that in multiple ways down to , for example, Ethan Edwards and Travis Bickle being introduced as war veterans in their first scenes which I don’t think a lot of people touch on (because the other shadows of Ford’s influence; like the characters that Drake mentions, are just more important generally). I just think the similarities to Breathless, such as just in general and, for example, the characterization of Travis as somewhat of a possessive male of Betsy and whatnot reminded me of Michel with Patricia, and his adventures with the gun at the beginning ending with killing the policeman reminded me of Travis at the presidential rally. And that’s not even all of it I don’t think. I just think the influence of Breathless rivals the influences of The Searchers on Taxi Driver, but I’m not sure if it exceeds it.
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It’s such a shame that Travis took Betsy to see that disgusting porn film. If he had taken here to see a true art work like Salò things might have gone a lot better.
@Zane – lol that scene makes me cringe no matter how many times I’ve seen it. What makes it so disturbing is that he doesn’t seem to grasp why she’s so appalled by it.