Sunday, November 10, 2013

Taxi Driver 1976

Scorcese: Taxi Driver, 1976
Travis is a taxi driver. He is peculiar, as normalcy goes. All is not well with the world so far as he is concerned. He moves in the urban jungle populated by pimps and criminals. He is not at peace with himself. His time moves slowly. He cannot sleep. The nameless tension in him mounts. He buys himself an assortment of revolvers and guns. He is something of a saint. In the dim twilight of his mind, he wants to matter, to make a difference, to purge his world. And willing to pay the price. Delusions? Alone-ness?  Life weary?  Everything explodes in a shootout. And this is followed by the alternative ending, as Travis would have liked it and as he sees himself. This is a highly rated film. What I remembered from my initial viewing nocturnal play of neon lights and the melancholy jazz. The gushing vapors from the netherworld materializing into a taxi is a shot indelibly written. It is brilliant as pure cinema.

Ebert puts his finger on the spot:
"...a character with a desperate need to make some kind of contact somehow--to share or mimic the effortless social interaction he sees all around him....a series of his failed attempts to connect, every one of them hopelessly wrong. He asks a girl out on a date,......he sucks up to a political candidate.....he tries to make small talk with a Secret Service agent.....this utter aloneness is at the center of "Taxi Driver"...."

Vincent Canby captures the mood and ambiance:
The steam billowing up around the manhole cover in the street is a dead giveaway. Manhattan is a thin cement lid over the entrance to hell, and the lid is full of cracks. Hookers, hustlers, pimps, pushers, frauds, and freaks—they're all at large. They form a busy, faceless, unrepentant society that knows a secret litany. On a hot summer night the cement  lid becomes a nonstop harangue written in neon: walk, stop, go, come, drink, eat, try, enjoy. Enjoy? That's the biggest laugh. Only the faceless ones—the human garbage—could enjoy it.


Seongyong Cho said...

A small trivia: after finishing recording his jazzy but brooding score for "Taxi Driver", Bernard Herrmann died on the next day. That was a fabulous ending for the illustrious career of a great film music composer who started his Hollywood career with "Citizen Kane"(1941)

S. M. Rana said...

Swan song?