with Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel
Written by Paul Schrader
Directed by Martin Scorsese
by Ronnie Kray
There are certain films in American culture that burrow themselves into the national psyche and remain firmly planted there.
“You talkin’ to me?” If you’ve been living on planet Earth during the last two decades, you know what film this line comes from, who said it, and when. For the last twenty years, Taxi Driver has stood on its own in some dark corner, beckoning for another film to stand up to it, and, in my opinion, it’s still waiting. Celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new print and a restored soundtrack, Scorsese’s trademark and DeNiro’s calling card is touring the country in repertory. About time, too.
Written by Paul Schrader and directed by Scorsese in 1976, this Cannes winner shocked an American audience with a simple premise – human beings are driven to extreme acts of passion when backed into a corner of society. No one will ever see the likes of DeNiro’s Travis Bickle again, not in another actor, nor another film. I wanted to stay away from the word “groundbreaking,” but let’s be real here, Taxi Driver is in a cab of its own. Bickle is probably one of the greatest characters in twentieth-century fiction (not just film). What’s scary is the fact that he’s real. We see such men every day, shying away from people and situations that could push them over the brink. I must admit that this ain’t Star Wars – the restored soundtrack does not make all the difference as far as what the film conveys – however, it does add a flourish to Bernard Herrmann’s street-jazz tones and compositions. There is so much tied to the story of this film, both on and off the set. Harvey Keitel and Jodie Foster brought acclaim to themselves as did Scorsese, who planted himself in the annals of great directors with Taxi Driver. What is so damn appealing about Travis, the knight in the delusional service of his princess and country, is that he believes that his insane tactics are actually for the good of himself and the society around him. The point is that you should not be seeing this film just because it’s a special re-release; Taxi Driver should be seen no matter what.