[extract] Martin Scorsese, Marie Katheryn Connelly, McFarland 스크랩을 하자

<Martin Scorsese : An Analysis of His Feature Films, with a Filmography of His Entire Directorial Career>
by Marie Katheryn Connelly, McFarland

33-48p. Taxi Driver

Loneliness has followed me everywhere. My whole life. Everywhere. In bars and cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. God's lonely man. - Travis Bickle, N. Y. cabbie in Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver hauntingly renders the loneliness of Travis Bickle's life. It is that feeling which lingers - the look of pain in Travis's glazed eyes as he struggles to articulate the anxiety and despair he is feeling, brimming over with anguish. Considered a critical masterpiece both in 1977 and now, Taxi Driver is a rich work which has captured the imagination of many critics who have suggested many orientations and interpretations of the film. Some have seen Travis (Robert De Niro) as a monster, others as a victim of a violent society and Taxi Driver as an indictment of America in the 1970s. Some have focused on Travis as mentally ill, others on Travis as victimized because he served in Vietnam.

Taxi Driver was a labor of love for director Martin Scorsese, the scriptwriter Paul Schrader, and many of the leading players. Contributing their considerable talents at bargain prices to lure a studio to pick up the picture, those involved felt committed to putting their best effort into this work. The result was a movie rich in detail and subtlety, even richer after repeated viewings.

A movie of fragments, Taxi Driver is hard to follow. Watching it is similar to reading a modernist work such as T. S. Elito's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" or "The Wasteland." In fact, approaching Taxi Drive as a modernist work is helpful to understanding and interpreting it. As in other modernist works, the feeling evoked in Taxi Driver is one of desolation and despair. There is a pessimistic view of life, and a sense of futility permeates the world of this movie. The expression of alienation and isolation, the dominant feelings of Travis and a major focus of the film, is the quintessential characteristic of the modernist universe.

Also like most modernist works, Taxi Driver is a work of complex form with much irony, and its appeal, for many people, is more intellectual than emotional. Cinematographer Michael Chapman's photography of the urban landscape in Taxi Driver is typical of modernist art, which often features urban imagery, especially as a symbol of decay in modern society. The photographic style is often expressionistic and subjective. The film's artistic allusions include the works of other directors, especially Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock. Finally, Taxi Driver is modernist in that it is an ambigious work which lends itself to mutiple interpretations.

Taxi Driver is a variation of film noir. Like other Scorsese films, it looks back to the past, in this instance through the use of many noir elements. Also like other Scorsese films, the use of this element borrowed from the past is highly revisionist. Films made in the noir style began during World War 2 and continued to be a dominant mode during the 1950s. Film noir, or black cinema, was a style used in several genres, including the deadly female (or femme fatale) cycle, the thriller, the crime drama, horror films, and psychological dramas. Originally an outgrowth of the 1930s gangster film, film noir often featured tough, cynical characters who were corrupt and exploitive of others. Although only a small number of film noirs were actually horror films, the feeling evoked by noir is often truly terrifying. Mired in anxiety and paranoia, film noirs feature a corrupt, menacing universe where virtuous characters are powerless against the forces of evil. Most scenes are set at night, and they usually feature evocative black and white photography, often in high contrast, creating a shadowy world which can be beautiful as well as sinister. There is an attraction and a repulsion to this world. The camera sometimes captures found poetry in the night world and even its tawdriness is often rendered artfully, arousing an ambivalent, voyeuristic response in the viewer.

Taxi Driver contains a number of these elements, but is also departs from the conventions of film noir in significant ways. Taxi Driver is a film about a world of night, and most of its scenes are dark; however, Scorsese has added the dimension of color. In the forties and fifties film noir, the external world was oppressive; here, the source of oppression and anxiety is largely internal. Travis's enemy comes from within, from his own mind. The subtitle of Taxi Driver could be the Age of Anxiety, and no doubt Travis's anxiety mirrors our own as well as that of the 1970s. In contrast to twenty-five years before, when the enemies of World War 2 were known and clear-cut, there wasn't any specific reason to feel afraid or tense, yet many were feeling an anxiety that seemed endemic of the times.

Taxi Driver is strongly reflective of the post-tumultuous 1960s and post-Vietnam War period. Political assassinations had ceased shocking the populace yet still aroused their fear. The relations between blacks and whites were angry and tense. Crime seemed, overnight, to have become random, frequent, and unprecedentedly brutal. Fear and alienation were experiences of the population at large, and a new vocabulary was sought to articulate the source of the free-floating anxiety so many seemed to be experiencing. Scorsese tapped into this social paranoia. His examination of Travis's oppression and alienation reflects the anxiety many people felt during the 1970s.

Taxi Driver chronicles the story of Travis Bickle, a twenty-six-year-old Vietnam veteran and former Marine. He is also a Midwesterner living in New York City. Fraught with worry, and lonely from too much solitude, Travis applies for hack work because he can't sleep nights. In anonymity, Travis taxies people during long twelve-hour shifts. However, he finds little relief from his insomnia and lonliness. After work, he still hinds himself too wired to sleep. Typically, after his shift, he goes to porn houses. One day while on the job, Travis sees the girl of his dreams, a beautiful woman in white, who turns out to be a worker for Senator Palantine (Leonard Harris), a presidential candidate. The woman, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), is bright, confident, and stylish. Unlike Travis, she is fully plugged into life. She has friends, interests, and fulfilling work. However, she also has a curiosity about people and experiences, even those involved in the seamier aspects of life. We, therefore, aren't surprised when Betsy becomes intrigued by Travis and is curious enough about him to agree to a date. Travis's intensity is disarming and intrigues her, though she is also swayed through sheer flattery. Travis is also fortunate enough to be charming in his initial encounter with Betsy.

The date, however, ends shortly after Travis takes her to a movie at a porn theatre. He is apparently so out of touch with mainstream cultural norms that he is uninformed about the protocol of dating. Feeling ill at ease and concluding that she had misjudged Travis, Betsy abruptly leaves the theater. Bewildered, Travis implores her to stay with him, offering to take her to another movie or anywhere else she would like to go. Travis later calls to apologize and tries to send her flowers. She returns the flowers and, after that first call, she refuses to speak to him. Hurt and angry, Travis stalks into Palantine headquarters, demanding to know why Betsy won't talk to him. Tom (Albert Brooks), Betsy's co-worker and friend, quickly ushers him out and summons a police officer. Dejected, Travis slips into a morose passivity. He grows more introspective, and his worries and tension grow as the grinding loneliness of his world bores in on him.

Travis finally passes over the edge when he decides to act out the frustration he feels inside. He buys an arsenal of weapons and undertakes a rigorous program of "purification" and self-discipline. He narrates in his diart, "The abuse has gone on for too long... No more pills, bad food, destroyers of my body. Total organization from now on. Every muscle must be tight." He spends hours exercising and practicing at the target range, preparing himself for battle. Finally finding release for the torment inside, he fantasizes fighting his imagined enemies. "You looking at me?" Travis taunts his potential ully, as he looks in the mirror, imagining himself the hero, just like in the movies.

Travis eventually finds someone to whom he can direct his efforts. He befriends a twelve-year-old prositute, Iris (Jodie Foster), who earlier had gotten into his cab asking him to drive off quickly, so she could escape from her pimp. Deeply offended by the moral depravity surrounding him, Travis determines to clean up the city, at least by helping this young girl. He tells her, "This is nothing for a person to do. You should be home with your parents."

The first near-victim of Travs's new aggression is Palantine. Standing in a crowd gathered to hear the politician, Travis begins to pull a gun from his jacket to kill him. But his attempt is foiled by a Secret Service man who spots him. The motivation for Travis to kill Palantine, however, is ambiguous. Palantine's association with Betsy, who rejected Travis, is probably a factor; perhaps his jealousy of Palantine, as a happy person with a fulfilling life, also contributes to Travis's action; and finally, he seems to be semi-delusional at this point - he seems to have snapped.

Ironically, instead of inspiring contempt as a political assassin, Travis is later proclaimed a hero. Through a fluke of circumstances, he ends up killing gangsters instead of a political candidate. After failing in his assassination attempt, Travis directs his aggression toward rescuing Iris from her depraved life. In a gruesome bloodbath, he shoots his way to Iris by slaughtering her pimp, a timekeeper, and an unlucky john. No one apparently mourns the loss of these undesirables, and Travis's actions are interpreted by the press as heroic acts. He is acclaimed as the cab driver who bravely challenged criminals, helping a child-hooker return to her parents. Iris's parents write to him to express their gratitude for his heroic efforts to help their daughter. Ironically, in the final scene of the film, Betsy enters Travis's cab. She talks to him about his fame, apologizing with her polite interest if not her actual words. Travis looks greatly relieved at the close of the film.

I know this guy Travis. I've had the feelings he has, and those feelings have to be explored, taken out and examined. I know the feeling of rejection that Travis feels, of not being able to make relationships survive. I know the killing feeling, the feeling of really being angry [Martin Scorsese quoted in Flatley 1976, 43].

Much of Taxi Driver is an exploration of loneliness. Travis writes in his diary, "All my life needed was a sense of some place to go. I don't believe that one should devote himself to morbid self attention. I believe that someone should become a person - like other people." As Pauline Kael insightfully pointed out, "Travis Bickle... can't find a life" (Kael 1976, 82). Watching Taxi Driver makes us aware of the importance of friends, of having people who love us and appreciate us, of having opportunities to express ourselves and to be heard, of feeling comfortable and belonging somewhere. It also makes us think of how difficult it can be to obtain those things. Social interactions can be complicated because they are governed by many unspoken rules.

Otensibly, people might feel they couldn't relate to Travis, whose murderous actions clearly mark him as a deviant. Yet, as critic Jack Kroll points out, "What he's really got is an agony of the spirit... his pathology is really an extreme form of a common condition" (Kroll 1976, 82). Anyone who has ever felt he or she has said the wrong thing, anyone who has ever felt anxious as a result of spending the day at home having too much times to worry - can relate to Travis's experience on some level.

Travis is painfully shy and lacking in social skills. There is the sense that he has been raised by parents who abused him by ignoring him. He has spent too many hours alone, and he seems to have had little experience articulating his thoughts or conversing with others. Although the other cabies good-naturedly include Travis in the group and cheerfully joke with him, he doesn't know how to respond to them. Serious and self-absorbed, he doesn't know how to get out of himself and how to participate in the dialogue of the other cabbies. With the interviewer for the cab job, the Secret Service agent, and Palantine, Travis also appears insecure and ill at ease. Admittedly, many people might be nervous during encounters such as these, but for Travis, these occasions are times when he is especially awkward and insecure. He sports a goofy grin and makes inappropriate remarks, so apparently unaccustomed is he to conversing with others. At times, with Betsy, Palantine, and Iris for example, Travis reveals an intensity of feeling that signals that there is something peculiar, and deeply felt that he lacks the vocabulary to express himself in the language of common experience.

There is much silence and passivity in Travis's life. In his cab, he spends long hours as a quiet observer of his city. Passengers enter and exit in anonymity. Working nights, Travis observes some of the worse of humanity, and thoughts of the perversities he sees frighten, worry, and sicken him. He watches a man being mugged and dragged off. He sees a young girl strong-armed by her pimp. He listens as a sick passenger narrates in gruesome detail a plan to kill his wife. Like a television screen, the windshield of Travis's cab allows him to see firsthand the depravity of society, the sick underside of humanity that middle-class suburbanites never have to see. After work, Travis watches films at the porn theatres at Times Square. At home, still a passive participant of life, he watches television. He is the picture of modern paralysis as he gazes at the tube, watching a couple argue about their relationship, revealing an intimacy that is far removed from his own experience.

Television is a drug, as ddictive as the junk food, pills, and liquor Travis ingests. Seemingly stoned, he passively watches television and rocks the set back and forth with his foot. he passively watches television and rocks the set back and forth with his foot. Travis pushes a bit too far, and the television crashes and breaks. Dazed by this occurence, Travis says, "Damn," as ha hangs his head, hurting not only from the loss of his most intimate companion, but also from the weightiness of his depression. He feels assaulted by the forces in his life - the criminals on the street, children who pelt his cab as he drives by, scummy passengers who disgust him. He also feels the weight of his own ineptitude. Travis is vulnerable, however, until his decision to empower himself.

For Travis, there has been a lifetime of pent-up rage and self-hatred. He is full of repressed anger towards women, towards black people, towards the system. The rigid, judgmental attitude he has towards people is a protection against his own fear, against his complicity with the system.

"All the animals come out at night... whores, skunk, pussy, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies... sick, venal," he writes in his diary. And yet the rage he directs at them is actually a form of his own self-hatred projected outwardly. Travis needs someone or something to blame. He needs an outlet for the anger he feels towards himself, so he directs his fury at the depravity he sees on the street.

One of the reasons Travis hates himself is the duality in his own nature. In spite of himself, he is both attracted to and repelled by the moral squalor of the night world. As if mesmerized by sex and violence, he stares at the people on the street. Although he may be only dimly aware of it, Travis is addicted to sex and violence. Indiscriminately, he will drive anyone anywhere, even in the worst neighborhoods. Although he is afraid of and sickened by some of the experiences he has had while hacking, Travis makes no active decision to protect himself or to modify his behavior in order to eliminate some of those dangers in the future.

When Iris breathlessly enters Travis's cab and pleads that he take off so she can escape from her pimp, Travis pauses. He watches what is happening, as usual, from the rearview mirror. Perhaps a part of him wants to help, yet he was doing nothing. Like the impulse that motivates us to look at an accident as we drive by on the freeway, Travis wants to observe the horrid but exciting drama that is being enacted in the back of his cab. We wonder why he doesn't respond to Iris's plea and drive off promptly. Travis recognizes his guilt on some level and hates himself for it.

We see the same impulse in Travis when he is with Iris later on. She keeps trying to engage him in a sexual act, and he keeps refusing - but not immediately. Iris loosens her blouse and begins to remove it. She later unbuckles Travis's belt. Each time, there are at least a few suspenseful moments when we wonder if he will allow her to proceed. His refusal is morally decisive, but only after those moments of ambivalence.

Then Travis makes the decision to act. He finally finds an outlet for all of these pent-up feelings of rage. He also becomes delusional at this point, living half in reality and half in fantasy. Using what he has learned as a soldier, he decides to empower himself with weapons and to use violence as a means of solving his problems. Full of grandiosity and pretending to e Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood, Travis struts and swaggers. He imagines himself confronting some thrugs, "You looking at me?... Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?" With satisfaction, he vigorously asserts himself as he writes in his diary, "Here is a man who would not take it anymore... who stood up. Who stood up against the scum."

The photography of Taxi Driver captures the look of the city at night. In many ways, the world of the night is a dream world which has seductive appeal. There is a feeling of isolation, and people who are drawn to working at night are often more comfortable with solitude than their counterparts during the day. According to Travis, night is when the misfits and deviants come out. However, working nights establishes a kinship with the night world, just by being there. The photography of Taxi Driver helps us to experience the city at night - the billows of smoke rising from the street, the colors of the cityscape blurred by the rain, looking like an impressionist painting through the windshield of the cab, the grey look of an empty street deep into the night, the reddish glow of neon lights reflected on the pavement of rain-slicked streets.

Scorsese also captures the particulars of Travis's world as he hacks from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The farebox, the cigar box of tips, traffic lights, and individual parts of Travis's yellow cab - the rearview mirror, a silver ornament, a side view of the cab - are shown in fragmented close-ups. Visually the city is reminiscent of the yellow smoke and fog of T. S. Eliot's "Wasteland," and we become enveloped in this world of garish urban landscapes through Travis's eyes. The smoke, red filters, and greenish distortions of light make the city look like Dante's Inferno. One minute it is mesmerizing and mysteriously evocative, the next, grotesque, like scenes from hell. Although Travis claims to abhor what he sees, he nevertheless finds himself drawn to this world. Compelled by his addiction to sex and violence, he steals glances at the activities of a prositute and her clientin the back seat of the cab. Travis is a voyeur of the night world, and he watches both in disbelief and in rapt fascination.

By contrast, the camera sometimes coolly observes Travis, tracking him and his environs with clinical objectivity, recording him as a case study. This type of photography is often a slow tracking movement, as if someone were observing the scene carefully - left to right - to take in the whole panorama, to piece together the clues. This panning movement is used first to survey the taxi garage. Next, it is used to detail Travis's apartment. We see the drab, shabby place where he lives - scattered newspaper and magazines, a cot, a naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling, bars on the windows. The same ponderous, thorough tracking movement documents the aftermath of the explosion of violence at the end of the film. Unflinchingly, the camera surveys the entire scope of violence - passing over blood-spattered walls, several guns, multilated bodies covered with blood. The camera also documents clinically from a bird's-eye-view angle(directly overhead) Travis curled uncomfortably on his cot and the aftermath of the shootout, the results looking coldly detached and as distorted as a violent acts that are being recorded.

Although Taxi Driver is a narrative film, it can also be looked upon as an essay of modern life, as an expression and study of loneliness. Scorsese has this universality in mind as he works, "I want to communicate on the basic human level - sad, funny, violent, peaceful... Sometimes I look at one of my scenes and I say, 'My God, look at that! A thousand things went wrong,' But then an emotion comes through, and I'm happy. That's where I am'" (quoted in Flatley 1976, 41, 43).

On the basic human level, it is easy to have compassion and empathy for Travis, and the camera work guides us to this response. For the most part, he is a quiet man. He easily fades into the crowd, like most of us. His sincerity is touching, many of his fears are like our own, and his basic loneliness is universal as well. When Travis is rejected by Betsy, he calls her to apologize, but she wants nothing to do with him. Visually, his loneliness and sadness are conveyed by showing Travis talking on a pay phone in the lobby of a building. We see him in profile, a semi-private position, and we hear his voice - quiet, sincere, and apologetic. After several moments, the camera moves to the right, past Travis, to an empty, white corridor, which serves as a metaphor for the loneliness and emptiness in his life.

Much of Michael Chapman's cinematography in Taxi Driver conveys Travis's view of the world and his thoughts and feelings. Some of the footage appears to have been taken through the cab's windshield and back and side windows. The human drama of night street life is conveyed expressively, Travis's cab traverses dark, deserted streets. We experience all as he does. For example, we wince wth fear along with Travis as he drives down the street, and, for no apparent reason, he becomes the victim of the violent actions of a gang of kids as they pelt his cab with eggs and rocks.

The camera memorably depicts Travis's loneliness and isolation when he stops to have coffee with some fellow cabbies. Subdued and withdrawn, he orders coffee, and, when the cabbies ask him how everything is going, he proceeds to tell them about a driver who was cut up in Harlem. One of the drivers remarks, "Fuckin' Mau-Mau land." Associatively, the camera them shows Travis's thoughts. He gazes meditatively at two black men who dressed in black, the other in white. They look stern and tough; one wraps his fingertips against the counter menacingly. Worn out and self-absored, Travis puts an Alka-Seltzer tablet in a glass of water. The camera zooms in closely to the glass, picking up the sounds of the fizzling tablet. One of the cabbies, Doughboy (Harry Northup), tries to get Travis's attention. He speaks to Travis three times before he responds. We aren't surprised by Travis's lack of response, however, for the camera has followed his isolation and drift.

To try to reach out for help, Travis asks Wizard (Peter Boyle) if he can talk with him. He them follows Wizard out onto the street. In contrast to the bright light and white of the cafeteria, the street is dark and filtered in red. Once on the street, Travis sees a young black man stalking and clanking a chain that he carries with him. Travis stops and stares. After the man passes by, a gang of young kids taunt some prositutes on the street, and the prositutes quickly defend themselves and chase the kids away. Travis is inarticulate, and he gropes for the words to explain what is bothering him to Wizard. As we match Travis gaze at the menacing and aggressive behavior on the street, we see a part of what torments him.

We also see some of Travis's happier thoughts and feelings conveyed visually. For example, when he watches Betsy enter Palantine headquarters, she seems to float through the crowd. Her hair softly swirling with a turn of her head, Betsy moves in graceful slow motion, visually conveying Travis's enchantment with her: "I first saw her at Palantine headquarters at 63rd and Broadway. She was wearing a white dress like an angel out of this filthy mass. She is alone. ... They cannot touch her." Later when Travis is walking down the street to meet Betsy for their date, his feelings are again conveyed through the camera. Dressed nicely in a jacket and tie and sporting clean and shiny hair, Travis looks especially handsome. In slow motion, he is photographed waliking down the street in a crowd of people, but in his own world. The crowd of people he walks among is blurred, and the visuals of this scene are underscored by soft, romantic music. Thus, both visually and aurally, we see Travis's oblivion to the crowd, full of anticipation about his date.

Since most of Taxi Driver takes place at night, those scenes containing light are particularly noticable. For example, those featuring Betsy are almost always filled with light. A competent, well-adjusted individual, she is consistently shown in the world of daylight - at headquarters, at Childe's coffee shop, at the various political rallies. Travis's fellow cabbies also work nights, and they fit into the night world because each of them is a bit offbeat. However, it is appropriate that they too are shown in the bright lights of their late-night haunts. They are cheerful originals, content and accepting of each other's eccentricities and their lives as cabbies.

The eeire ambience and psychological tension so prevalent in the film were in part created by the soundtack and musical score. Bernard Herrmann, the composer of the score for Taxi Driver, also wrote the music for psychological dramas such as Hitchcock's Psycho and Vertigo and Welles's Citizen Kane. No doubt, it was Herrmann's experience with and talent for conveying music suggestive of mood and nuance, especially those reflective of the underlying psychology of a character, that motivated the decision to employ Herrmann for the music for Taxi Driver. Although the score has been criticized as being too dramatic, it is also considered by many as richly evocative and effective and effective for this film. Perhaps because Travis is so quiet and inarticulate, the music of Taxi Driver is especially significant in conveying not only detail and nuance suggestive of the environment of the film, but also important psychological information about the main character.

The musical score relfects the duality of Travis's nature. At times, it underlines his dark vision of the city as he prowls the streets of late-night Manhattan. This music sounds ominous, brooding, and foreboding. A variation of this music features a deep bass and drum beat which sounds unyielding, relentless, inexorable. This music expresses the fearful and sinister qualities of the city. By contrast, the score also features a soft, wistful, jazzy music which suggests the more positive connotations of the city, its romantic possibilities, those parts of the night world that fire the imagination. The city inspires this response in Travis too. Although he is inarticulate about this aspect of his experience, the romantic yearnings suggested by this music are clearly supported by both music and visuals.

The sounds of Taxi Driver also render the loneliness of Travis's life. First of all, there is the absence of dialogue. Both at work and during off-hours, Travis spends many hours in silence. He observes or listens to his passengers, but he doesn't usually converse with them. The conversations he has with his co-workers are often awkward for him, and he participates only sparingly. Mostly, Travis listens. Both the visuals and the sound effects of Taxi Driver convey his lonely life. When Travis picks up a man and a prositute, he overhears their conversation and does as he is asked. Meanwhile, the windshield wipers of Travis's cab thud relentlessly, an audible metaphor for the tension that is building up inside him. Camera and sound also capture the monotony of his life as featured in close-ups of traffic light after traffic light and close-ups and clicks of the farebox. The hours of silence and isolation compound the angst that builds inside him. Travis's diary is also an expression of his loneliness. He literally has no one to talk to, no one with whom to share his thoughts and feelings. Keeping a diary provides at least some outlet, some means of expression.

When Travis becomes interested in Betsy, the music associated with her is romantic - soft, wistful jazz, full of hopeful possibilities and promise. The city looks especially pretty during this time. At one point, the neon of several bars reflects a rainbow of colors on the pavement of the street, something beautiful from something tawdry. The images is complemented by the shot's romantic score. In another shot, the view from the windshield of Travis's cab is a lovely pattern of colored lights. Soft, romantic jazz accompanies these shots which occur between the time when Travis asks Betsy out and when their date begins.

At the start of their evening, a drummer with oil-slickered hair announces that he will demonstrate the Gene Krupa syncopated style, and he proceeds to do so with a rat-a-tat-tat. It was an interesting decision to feature this drummer and his music in that he both works as a metaphor and foreshadows what is to come. The garishness of his appearance predicts the seaminess to follow while the rapid percussion suggests Travis's excitement about his date with Betsy.

Much of the dialogue in Taxi Driver consists of talk about people on the fringes of society - about criminals, murderers, pimps, prositutes. The cabbies discuss crime and how they protect themselves from it. Betsy and Tom flirt with one another while discussing the possible relationship between a newsstand man's missing fingers and dealing with the Mafia. Crime is a preoccupation not only with Travis, Betsy, and the cabbies, but it is also a large part of the political rhetoric espoused by the presidential candidate, Palantine. He states, "We the people suffered in Vietnam. ... We still suffer from unemployment, inflation, crime, and corruption." Ironically, we the people - including the audience of Taxi Driver - are seduced by, drawn in, and implicated by those issues. They are our preoccupations too. Thus Palantine's words work on a deeper and more significant level than the surface plot. Also, ironically, Palantine's campaign slogan, "We are the people" naively assumes that the people are all healthy while the visuals of the movie reveal that many are not.

Although Taxi Driver contains far less humor than most of Scorsese's films, it does have some, which provides welcome comic relief. Travis tries to joke with people occasionally - with the interviewer at the garage, with Betsy - but, reflective of his difficulty with connecting with others, his convince Betsy to have coffee with him at a coffee shop near headquarters. He assumes a muscleman's pose and tells Betsy that he will be there to protect her. She then laughs and agrees to meet him.

The basis for the relationship between Tom and Betsy seems to be the witty banter they exchange. Their humor is intellectual and sophisticated. Tom is funny and bright, full of spontaneous one-liners, and Betsy complements his personality with her own quickness and intelligence. Also, the subtext of their exchanges is sexual - they are always flirting with one another - which adds interest and liveliness to the quips they exchange.

Another character with a good sense of humor is Iris's pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel). He is quick-witted and funny. It is another of the film's ironies that Sport, who is clearly morally repugnant as the pimp of a twelve-and-a-half-year-old girl, should have so much appeal. Full of energy and life, Sport is the antithesis of the stereotypical pimp. When Travis talks to Sport about seeing Iris, Sport teases him about looking like a cop and not looking hip. Sport laughs and jokes around, "You're a funny guy, but looks aren't everything. Go on. Have a good time."

Finally, other characters who consistently provide comic relief are Travis's fellow cabbies. Wizard especially provides several good-humored scenes in the film. In Travis's first meeting with the cabbies, Wizard tells a wonderfully preposterous war story about pulling over on the Triborough Bridge to make love to a prositute who had gotten into his cab. Wizard tells his cronies she said, "'It's the greatest single experience in my life. 'And she gave me a $200 tip and her phone number in Acapulco." On another occassion, Doughboy mentions that in California, when two homosexuals break up, one of them has to pay the other alimony. Wizard looks struck by that fact for a moment, as he takes it all in; then he says, "Yeah. Well, they're way ahead out there."

The acting of Peter Boyle as Wizard was superior as were the performances of many of the other actors involved with Taxi Driver. Scorsese was particularly skillful in casting performers, like Boyle, able to look and act the part of various New York City types in the film - the deli owner who gets robed; Easy Andy, the consummate salesman; the cop who prompts Travis to move along on the street; the taxi dispatcher; Iris's timekeeper. Scorsese himself is powerful as the intense, neurotic, obsessed man who plots to kill his cheating wife.

The more sophisticated urbanities, Albert Brooks as Tom and Cybill Shepherd as Betsy, also were well cast. Brooks brings an intelligence and wit to his performance that are enjoyable to watch. More subtly, Brooks also reveals nuances of Tom as the hapless underdog, which makes him all the more appealing. In his limitations and insecurities, Tom is like many of us. Shepherd is well cast as the confident upstate woman - pretty, flirtatious, saucy, and bright. In addition to the beauty and charm she brings to the role, Shepherd realizes a full character, someone lively and interesting and full-dimensional, for her performance shows a range including not only humor, but also moodiness, not only surface charm, but also conviction and integrity.

The other female lead character, Iris, is performed skillfully by Jodie Foster. Foster actually was twelve and a half, the same age as her character, when she acted in Taxi Driver. Precocious and instincrive, Foster is convincing as the tough, cynical child-prosisute. In her relatively few scenes, she realizes her character in a considerable range of feeling and behavior - from tough-minded street smarts to vulnerability and softness, and from adult seriousness to childlike spontaneity.

Harvey Keitel, Iris's pimp, plays his role with power and bravura. As a pimps, he is, of course, a slimy character. However, perhaps surprisingly, Matthew also has a lot of appeal and charm. For example, the most tender scene in Taxi Driver takes place when Matthew and Iris dance together. He holds Iris close to him, strokes her hair, and reassures her warmly, gently that their love for each other is special. The scene is so powerfully evocative and sensual that we aren't at all surprised at Iris's surrender to Matthew's considerable charm. On another level, Matthew's vitality and humor make him a likeable character. Instead of being a dark figure, Matthew comes across as just a guy doing a job. Full of presence on the street, he jingles coins in his pocket, looks around brightly, and sings a song as he scouts out his territory from the stoop.

Travis was a considerate departure from Robert De Niro's last role in Scorsese film (Johnny Boy in Mean Streets). Whereas Johny Boy was rash, spontaneous, and showy, Travis is introspective, repressed. Physically, Johnny Boy's movements were loose and fluid; Travis's are contained and compressed. Johnny Boy was fast-talking and quick to respond. Travis doesn't speak much, and when he does, he is usually soft-spoken and slow to respond. While Travis reads his diary, his voice drones on, expressionless. Johnny Boy expresses himself openly, flamboyantly. Travis mostly reacts rather than acts, and his expressions are low-keyed and emotionally subdued.

Scenes in which De Niro responds with spare, minimalist details are some of the most memorable in Taxi Driver. His face shows the internal turmoil he feels, his vacant stare revealing the lack of direction and purpose in his life. Often some of the most moving acting in the film occurs simply through a look and the resulting feeling that is conveyed. In the restaurant, Travis's eyes brim with sadness and isolation as he watches an Alka-Seltzer tablet dissolve in the water glass before him. Later, in the street outside with Wizard, his eyes are glazed and his face reveals internal pain and anguish as he tries to share his feelings. Then when Travis drives down the street, enroute to kill Iris's pimp, his body language reveals a man wired, stiff, his face frozen with the realization of what he is about to do. There are also the many quiet, spare responses to those who know him like his fellow cabbies and the grocer at the deli where he shops. Travis responds with an unspoiled, happy look when Betsy talks to him in the cab at the end of the movie. Method actors try to become their characters, and it is that quality which comes across in much of De Niro's acting in Taxi Driver. We get the sense that truly De Niro has become Travis, responding, feeling as Travis would.

Surprisingly, Taxi Driver was a box-office success. Scorsese took many artistic risks in making this film - its downbeat subject matter, its alienated central character, its graphic violence - yet audiences related to the film. He seems to have captured and expressed what many in America were feeling at the time: the tense race relations, fear of crime, loss of faith in politicians, the view of the city as degenerate, and sense of drift and alienation. Scorsese won the Golden Palm award at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival for Taxi Driver. His next movie would be the musical New York, New York. Scorsese felt drawn to this script because of his affection for 1940s films and music.



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  • Rainbow Mix Cherry Tomato | Landscaping - Gardening 2012-08-06 10:40:00 #

    ... &amp;quot;Its really something.&amp;quot; : [extract] Martin Scorsese, Marie Katheryn Connelly, McFarland</a><a href="http://jamilaswan.egloos.com/4207956" target=_blank title="&amp;quot;Its really something.&amp;quot; : [extract] Martin Scorsese, Marie K ... more

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