Staff Recommendation/ Taxi Driver

Cornerhouse Front of House Manager, Marshall Trower, recommends Taxi Driver

To open this recommendation with a bold statement, Martin Scorsese has never made a better film then Taxi Driver. Goodfellas, Raging Bull and the less talked about King of Comedy are all great, but Taxi Driver comes about as close to perfect  as a film can get.  When I studied film I used to obsess over every detail, from Bernard Herrmann’s last haunting score to how Scorsese depicted New York as an angry, dangerous and violent city.

The most appealing thing about Taxi Driver by far is Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). We follow this man through his own personal hell as he lives and works in New York, and finds his own solutions to the problems that surround him. De Niro creates one of the most complex, dangerous but also sympathetic characters in film history and for this, he certainly deserves credit.

The film’s writer Paul Schrader also deserves praise, and I’d say that understanding the character of Travis Bickle is easier when you know what mind-set Schrader was in when he wrote Taxi Driver. Shortly after being divorced, Schrader found himself friendless and alone for two months in Los Angeles where his only comforts were drinking, taking drugs and visiting porn theatres.  It was through this self-imposed isolation that he wrote Taxi Driver.  

A lot of men relate to this character.  In one respect I can see why and another, it totally mystifies me that a violent, psychotic and racist murder can also be an engaging and likeable character. It’s fair to say that in his attempts to engage with a world he doesn’t understand, Travis Bickle captures our sympathy. But equally, it’s dangerous to be too sympathetic to Bickle, as this character’s twisted views ultimately push him to perform the extreme acts he thinks will make people listen to him. Taxi Driver has been accused of fetishizing guns and violence, but if you view the film entirely from Travis Bickle’s perspective, it’s possible to understand where the filmmakers are coming from.