I won't deny I like my De Niro films and I have a soft spot for the edgy slightly off beat Scorsese direction that works so well. This duo partnership has been played out through the years, but this earlier film is arguably one of the best that both men have created.
Right from the first opening scene with the city smoke and taxi moving through it, the close up eye shots of De Niro then the rain beating down on the taxi's windscreen with the street lights out of focus...topped off I might add with the magnificent Bernard Herrmann soundtrack, it's probably one of the most memorable and perfectly executed openings ever on any motion picture. Of course a sizzling opening does not a good film make, but it does set the "mood" for what is a highly unusual and very graphic film.
Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle a recently discharged Marine who is looking for work and lives a very odd and secluded life as well as having sleep problems he's down and out but manages to find a job as a "Taxi Driver" The odd hours and late nights suit Travis, but he meets a local political campaign worker whom he soon becomes somewhat obsessed with (Cybill Shepherd who plays the part of Betsy)
Travis takes her on a date but his lack of social skills soon ruin the date after he takes Betsy to an adult movie playing in a local cinema. These early scenes show a lack of maturity and isolation of Travis who is detached and indifferent to normal behaviour. But deep down Travis has a sense of morality and is often sickened by what he sees on the streets, the crime and prostitution. He starts to tone himself up and vent his frustration into physical training
The story unfolds when Travis picks up an underage prostitute called "Iris" (Jodie Foster) trying to escape from her pimp boss "Sport" (Harvey Keitel), who drags her out of the cab. Travis is concerned by this and arranges to meet with Iris via the prostitution circle but instead of hiring Iris to have sex he tell her he wants to help her get out of prostitution. The later parts of the film revolve mostly around Travis and his new found mission to free Iris from her pimp and let her start a new life. But there are some very memorable moments along the way , the quick action sleeve gun design and mirror scenes, the Mohawk hair cut among many others. Also look out for a small scene where the director is paying Travis to sit in his cab and watch his wife cheating.
It would be easy to put Taxi Driver down as a fairly violent drama without much soul, but the reality is Travis despite being a bit of an oddball has a heart beneath it and his one man mission to extract punishment on the "scum" of the streets is a novel twist on the vigilante take. All this wouldn't work were it not for some masterful direction from Martin Scorsese, and some very convincing acting from all the cast members esp De Niro and Foster who both have difficult roles to play.
Cinematography is first class with some great scenes and angles provided by Michael Chapman, wonderful soundtrack and a genuinely meaningful storyline. De Niro provides narration in parts and this hints at the theme which Scorsese would later develop into his trade mark (narration and freeze frames) But here we have a fresh and eager crew and cast delivering up a powerful cinematic punch. The ending is quite violent, in the extra features the documentary (which is well worth a watch on it's own) explains this had to be toned down (colour and saturation wise - blood) to make the R rating, once you see the scene you'll understand why back in this time period the gore was deemed unacceptable. Don't dismiss Taxi Driver as a gore fest pure violence film, there is a serious moral side to the production and it successfully manages to convey a gloomy atmosphere and looks into the mind of a genuinely good man, who is mostly alone and struggling with life.
People band the "timeless masterpiece" title around a bit too much, but this is such a unique film on every level and has earned great respect among fans as a real cult classic. I remember the first time I watched this pondering just how tedious could a film be about a Taxi Driver? Well this is no ordinary cab ride a gritty street/crime drama that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.
Probably the most powerful film both men have made.
on 25 June 2011
Well you must be looking at my Bluray review... Ok, ok, on with the review.
As with my Apocalypse Now review I think it would be a bit of a waste to review the Taxi Driver movie itself. It's an iconic classic and if your reading this you'll no doubt just want to know if this bluray is worth the upgrade from the DVD, well it is, and here is why.
First impressions weren't good, they left in the old Columbia Pictures logo at the start of the film which looked horrendous, the credits weren't the best - although that's down to the trappings of time rather than anything else, and the first scene of Travis is murky, soft and hazy, but then the camera angle changes and *bang* a fine looking transfer from then on, and the best Taxi Driver has ever looked.
I will sum up the overall picture quality with one scene. Remember when Travis (Deniro) is in the Cafe and he drops a tablet into a glass of water that starts to fizz and he zones out just staring at it? Well, for years my VHS and DVD purchases just showed a fizzing glass of water, but in the Bluray release I can now see that the glass has a bug in it. Now, whether Travis can identify with this bug who is helplessly thrown around with the current, or they just didn't bother to clean the glass before shooting I don't know, but this level of detail is what the format is about. You can certainly see the benefit from the 4k digital restoration and remaster under Cinematographer Michael Chapman and Martin Scorsese. Taxi Driver looks great and is up there with the best classic movie Bluray releases. It still looks like a film from 1976, but it looks like it was released yesterday. That's not to say it looks super shiny or anything, there is a layer of filmic grain throughout the movie, but this is fine as it's where your detail comes from and also adds to the edgy feel of the movie. Blacks weren't always as solid as i'd have liked but minor trifles are outweighed by the detail and overall clarity on offer. If you have the set-up the 5.1 losseless soundtrack is very good. Not a new audio track but it still sounds great, from the Jazzy soundtrack, to Travis' monologues to the ambient noise of New York.
As for extras, this 35th Anniversary release seems to have everything. Most of these we have seen before on the various DVD releases, but it's nice to have them all in one place, and to be honest it's tough to think of anything else they could have added. There are three commentary tracks including the 1986 original recorded by Criterion. Scorses thoughts on Taxi Driver, Producing and making of Taxi Driver, storyboards, comparisons from the New York of 1975 to today, the influence and appreciation of Taxi Driver, God's lonely man: and in depth look at Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver stories (not tales from the film unfortunately but rather real life New York cabbies from the 70's) and the Bluray exlusive is an interactive script to screen.
In short then, if you like Taxi Driver this is the version to get.
If you go into the lists of De Nero's best films, then `Taxi Driver' frequently appears at the top. It won numerous awards, though surprisingly no `AA's?
The film was an enormous success, costing just over a million dollars to make - and grossing 28 million!
I can't think of anything that would have done more for the image of New York's yellow taxi cabs than this film?
The film centres on the taxi driver Travis. He lives in fantasy world, drives through the night, to areas no one else will go to , takes his pills, he keeps a diary. He also sends cards to his Mum &, Dad, telling them all sorts of tosh about himself. You never find out if his parents even exist?
He is uneducated and lacks the basic social skills. He thinks it's OK to take his new girlfriend to a porn movie? He's surprised when she walks out!
The film frequently enters the 'low life' areas of town and Travis seems to look down up on the dross of New York society. He is a racist.
As the film moves on, he becomes more and more irrational and unstable. He's an odd ball for sure and you're never quite sure just how far he's willing go? The film is very dark, but nevertheless just brilliant theatre, it takes you there, to the dingy, rainy streets of vice and the underclasses and unmentionables.
This film comes from the 1970s auteur period of nakedly awful stories about the dregs and losers. I remember enjoying my reaction to this as an undergraduate, the way that it kind of freaked me out, which is a substitute for experience in the young. This time around, while I recognize its significance, fine acting, and relentless realism, I half wondered why I was putting myself through it. OK, you endure it for the sake of art, but it is so awful that I may never do so again, which leads to the question, why buy it?
Scorsese, DeNiro, Keitel, and Foster completely deserve the praise they received. They portray losers in the drama of a massive, then-deteriorating city, in which a man is going insane. He pulls Keitel and Foster into his web of horror and alienation with the surety of a pendulum, to the unspeakable violence of the climax. It is painful to watch: a horrible story about horrible people to whom horrible things will happen. Then there is the commentary on the media: Travis becomes a hero by his action, though it is clear the pendulum continues to swing.
There is also a very good documentary about the film. It is a must for Scorsese fans and Taxi buffs.
It is a great film, just not very fun. I would recomend renting it rather than buying it.
'Taxi Driver' is a dark film looking at one mans alienation from society and life around him. It looks at how he gradually descends into his own form of madness and you really get a sense for how he feels through De Niros chilling portrayal. The lack of sleep and night shifts Travis (the main protagonist) works only serve to isolate him further from reality and life. When he meets a young political campaigner and a prostitute, both of these relationships spur him into dark action against the scum of new york. I have to say the direction and acting was excellent, you really get a feel for the malevolence Travis feels around him and his sense of disjointed exhaustion. The soundtrack is very dated now and the same jazzy refrain used throughout the film started to get on my nerves. It is a good film and definitely one to watch, but I have to say I was expecting so much more after all the hype on these pages and from things i've heard before that I was left a touch disappointed. The ending is powerful and then kind of fizzles out afterwards, you'll know what I mean when you watch it. Overall a good film and worth a viewing.
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
on 5 June 2012
Taxi Driver is one my favorite films of all time. I love 70's films like Apocalypse Now, Clockwork Orange, Get Carter, Godfather and others that broke new grounds in filmmaking in general. It's my favorite era of film-making next to Classic Hollywood and the 80's.
Taxi Driver is very effective portrayal of New York, loneliness, violence and does it so well that no film afterwards has managed to capture it. Every single aspect of the film works. The performance by Robert De Niro has become an iconic. The direction by Martin Scorsese is very stylish and gives Taxi Driver a unforgettable look. The music by Alfred Hitchcock's composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Vertigo) gives the film another level of atmosphere and mood. There are great supporting cast that includes Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd and Peter Boyle. While Taxi Driver is mostly De Niro's show, these actors give very good supporting performances.
There is no real point talking about the plot of this film because most of you have heard about it in one way or another. It's an iconic film with iconic performance and iconic scenes that influenced modern pop-culture. It's a true masterpiece.
This DVD is a 2 Disc set with great amount of extra features. Picture quality is superb as is the sound quality. There are also stills from the movie which are quite nice.
*Commentary track by writer Paul Schrader
*Commentary track by Professor Robert Kolker
*Interview with Martin Scorsese
*Making Taxi Driver - 70 min long making of documentary
*Travis New York - Interview with 1970's New York mayor
*Travis New York Locations - Films location comparison now and then
*Introduction to Storyboards by Martin Scorsese
*Storyboard to Film Comparison
*Animated Photo Galleries
*Scorsese at Work - Photo Montage
*God's Lonely Man - interview with screenwriter
*Influence and Appreciation: Martin Scorsese Tribute - Oliver Stone, Robert De Niro and others talk about Scorsese
*Taxi Driver Stories - Real life taxi drivers tell real life stories
*Producing Taxi Driver - Interview with producer.
This DVD is a must have for any collection. It's very well put together. There are a lot of extra content that cover every angle of the process of making Taxi Driver. If you are a fan of cinema you should get this one without a second doubt.
on 16 November 2014
I'm not going to give you a review of the movie. Instead I will make a brief comment on this release. The picture quality, and enhanced colour is really very good when used with a 4k TV and a player with built in 4K upscaling. It is noticeably better than a standard blu-ray, but I must stress that I was using high end hardware to view it. For those who are unaware, these "mastered in 4k" discs are not providing a 4K source. 4K blu-ray is predicted for late 2015. These are just slightly better looking with the right hardware.
on 1 June 2015
I absolutely love taxi driver it's a classic Robert De Niro is brilliant one of he's best movies if you haven't seen taxi driver then you must the story is amazing the film is slow and I understand it might not be everyone's cup of tea but this is a must see I've watched it so many times and just had to get the 4k Blu Ray does it look amazing especially the price also if you don't own taxi driver buy it right now you won't regret it for sure
on 14 December 2012
Not a long winded review though others have done justice to this fantastic film in theirs.
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle an ex-Vietnam veteran who suffers from insomnia as a result of his war experiences, gives his best performance excepting his role as Jake LaMotta in "Raging Bull", Cybil Shepherd is the love interest gone wrong that proves to be the straw that breaks the camels back, and a young Jodie Foster gives a memorable performance as an underage hooker who the avenging Bickle tries to save from ruining her life. And this brings the film to the disturbing and memorable climax.
The film has an almost documentary feel to it at times, particularly the scene at the diner where Bickle and his colleagues gather talking about self-protection and at first, Bickle feels uneasy about carrying a gun. I love the earthy and understated way the film is shot and the actors due justice to Martin Scorsese's direction.
Great film, best of the '70s bar none.
on 25 February 2015
Epicness at it's finest, Taxi Driver is obviously one of the greatest, if not the greatest movie ever made, its in my top 5 list behind Godfather atm, and I think it is truly a masterpiece at hand, the story is something we have, and proabably never will get again, it is epic. This Scorsese classic is arguably the best Scorsese movie ever made.
I won't go into the details on the story. You are just gunna have to buy it and tell yourself, the 4K 1080p remaster is very very good! I was impressed by this - being that the movie was made in the 70's, it would be difficult to render it to modern 1080p resolution but it was beautiful. Nothing was messed up, the original colours are there, just more beautiful. This is a must buy for all Taxi Driver lovers or just movie lovers or blu ray collectors who wants a saturday movie night watching a great movie.
I recommend this to really anyone over the age of 14, the 18 & over age is a bit farfetched, I'm 14 and I enjoyed this movie alt.