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The film Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese was released in 1976 and was received positively by both the public and critics. The director received the Palme d’Or award for his work, and the cast was honored with a number of nominations. The screenwriter, Paul Schroeder, managed to create a unique and, at the same time, a typical atmosphere of neo-noir, the characteristic of the New York community of the 1970s. The main role of Robert De Niro confirmed the actor’s talent due to the eccentricity of his character, and the man received the New York Film Critics Circle award. The narrative of the movie, its themes, and the ways of displaying directorial ideas make it possible to immerse oneself in a real story recreated in great detail. It may seem unusual that Taxi Driver was aimed at an American audience, but in the end, the film received worldwide recognition. Nevertheless, on the example of the New York of that time, Scorsese was able to demonstrate global issues and trends, in particular, loneliness and the inability to overcome social barriers in rapidly developing class inequality.
Analysis of Narrative
The story of the film is told dynamically, and the intrigue grows increasingly, without plot jumps and twists. Travis, the main character, is introduced as a taxi driver with an eccentric character and ambiguous thinking, which allows interpreting the events of the movie ambivalently. For instance, the fact that Travis keeps a diary emphasizes his loneliness, although he is constantly among people and can communicate much (Taxi Driver). Scorsese introduces the public to Travis as a teenager, despite his age. The main character’s inclinations towards radicalism, denial and opposition to society help form a clear view of him as a person who is not mature enough to make sound reasoning. No special visual and sound effects are used to convey an alarm. Nevertheless, due to intense dialogues, it seems that the taxi driver is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His communication with himself in the mirror reveals a depth of his loneliness and mental imbalance (Taxi Driver). The detachment and coldness of New Yorkers are one of the main topics that make it possible to concentrate on the image of Travis and his experiences.
Analysis of Thematic Content
If Travis’s personality could be described unambiguously, Taxi Driver would not be a cinematic masterpiece. Social and class contradictions in the film are reflected in the most realistic manner. One of the storylines includes the complex dynamics of the main character’s personal attitude to the senator, ranging from sympathy to the desire to kill (Taxi Driver). The senator himself is a demagogue and is ready to take any measures to maintain his political position. Another character is Betsy, a beautiful girl to whom the man has a liking, but in the end, their different social status and views become the cause of failure. Finally, the image of the 12-year-old prostitute Iris is presented in contrast to Betsy, and Travis’s desire to take care of this naive girl emphasizes his loneliness. The goals of the story are achieved by demonstrating the typical difficulties of an insignificant person in a big city. Ultimately, the film ends with a scene in which Travis is driving a car once again (Taxi Driver). This indicates the director’s desire to show the practical inability of many people to get rid of their experiences and fears.
Analysis of Formal Techniques
Regarding the practical means of influencing viewers, special techniques are utilized, for instance, constant noise accompaniment characterizing the bustle of the city, as well as the realism of different characters’ images. Dull colors are diluted with bright tones intentionally to provide an additional effect, and an example of a scene with blood on the face of the main character may be given (Taxi Driver). Camera work also deserves attention, and this aspect can be considered one of the most important components that allow achieving impacts on the public. Michael Chapman, the photography director, shows the streets of New York, plays with a focus on the background of glowing signs, and, at the same time, chooses specific camera angles to emphasize Travis’ loneliness (Taxi Driver). There are many medium close shots and waist shots. In the scene where Travis sits next to the corpse, a high-angle shot is applied to demonstrate the whole mise-en-scene (Taxi Driver). The palette is predominantly light with prevailing yellow and red tones. All these techniques are designed to show how remote people can be from one another even when living in a metropolis like New York.
The loneliness of an ordinary person and his inability to resist social challenges are the key topics raised by Scorsese in the film in question. However, the director does not concentrate on one idea and puts deep meaning in many scenes, thereby developing the topic of class difficulties. This movie deserves attention because it is not only filled with bright and charismatic characters but also makes it possible to realize how unpredictable the life of one person can be.
Taxi Driver. Directed by Martin Scorsese, performance by Robert De Niro, Columbia Pictures, 1976.