Martin Scorcese | USA | 1976
|Director: Martin Scorsese|
Producers: Julia Phillips, Michael Phillips
Screenplay: Paul Schrader
Cinematography: Michael Chapman
Editors: Tom Rolf, Melvin Shapiro
Music: Bernard Herrmann
|Robert De Niro (Travis Bickle)|
Cybill Shepherd (Betsy)
Jodie Foster (Iris)
Peter Boyle (Wizard)
Gino Ardito (Policeman at Rally)
Nat Grant (Stick-Up Man)
Leonard Harris (Charles Palantine)
Rating: R18 Graphic Runtime: 112 minutes
“You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.”
Martin Scorsese holds a special place in the hearts of many movie lovers. Not just for his incredible body of work, from Means Streets and Goodfellas, to The Age of Innocence and Silence, but because he is a true lover and protector of cinema. His work with The Film Foundation and World Cinema Project preserves important cinema and makes it accessible for audiences, at home or through organisations like the Wellington Film Society.
Taxi Driver is one of Scorsese’s greatest works, an iconic example of the spirit of the New Hollywood Cinema of the 1970s. A confronting and controversial film through its themes (including a 12 year old Jodie Foster playing a sexually exploited child) and the violence of its climax, it was a success with audiences and critics, winning the Palme D’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.
Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a Vietnam veteran who starts driving a cab on the night shift to make the most of his insomnia. His fixations turn into obsessions as his mental state deteriorates. He begins to take extreme and violent action.
Taxi Driver has elements of the film we are playing a week earlier, The Searchers, in its DNA. Taxi Driver shows its influence through some plot and character details. We thought that screening them a week apart would allow us to consider how these films, made twenty years apart, speak to the themes of isolation, violence, revenge, and obsession.
“Forty years on, Taxi Driver remains almost impossibly perfect: it’s hard to think of another film that creates and sustains such a unique, evocative tone, of dread blended with pity, loathing, savage humour and a scuzzy edge of New York cool. Bernard Herrmann’s score sounds like the city breathing, ominous and clammy, while De Niro’s performance is a masterclass in restraint and honesty… This is still one of the pinnacles of cinema.”