Hello everyone and welcome to the first edition of the road to great films series. Just as a quick overview to what this series is, is that I will be going through all of Roger Ebert’s 487 (I think) Great Movies and reviewing them. For this first edition I thought I would start with a favorite of mine, Taxi Driver.
Released in 1976, Taxi Driver tells the story of a lonely man trapped in his own personal hell as it appears in New York City. He drives around at nights witnessing the scum and trash and the city surfacing as he passes, sickening himself and his prejudices.
The main character in this film is ex-marine Travis Bickle (Played by the always brilliant Robert De Niro) who, scarred by the war and unable to sleep, gets a job as a taxi driver to keep him busy during nights. This job leads him to two recurring situations involving women. In both situations Travis desires to save these untouchable women from the scum that he sees inhabiting the city. Of course the situations of the two women are completely different, one a volunteer at a political campaign and one as a twelve year old prostitute played brilliantly by a young Jodie Foster.
Beginning with the first women Betsy (Played by Cybill Shepherd), a worker in a political campaign office. Travis spots Betsy from his cab and his voice-over description says everything that you need to know: “She appeared like an angel out of this open sewer, out of this filthy mass. She is alone, they cannot touch her”. He immediately places her on a pedestal of her own among the filth that he hates so dearly, the killers, the prostitutes, the pimps. Travis’ relationship with Betsy starts off well enough with him going into her office and looking directly into her life. Although after a first date he takes her to a porno theater. This untouchable women among all this scum involved in sex, and she is taken to a porno theater. This is a truly interesting scene of the film when you see how he fulfills his own prejudices without noticing giving you the idea that he is almost self loathing. This interaction ends their relationship leading Travis to his next women whom he desires to liberate.
But first he is introduced to the candidate that Betsy had been working for. Their interaction is odd to say the least. With Candidate Palantine in the back of his cab Travis proceeds to talk him up until Travis is asked about what bothers him the most about the country. He answers with a rant about the scum and trash in the city showing the odd character that he truly is. Even after this positive meeting with Palantine Travis makes it his goal to assassinate him. After acquiring some weapons Travis transforms into a walking arsenal and goes to scope out where he would be killing Palantine. After raising suspicions and leaving he meets a new character, thirteen year old prostitute Iris. Seeing how she is “forced” into the world of prostitution Drives Travis to save her, first offering her money to leave while still planning to kill Palantine, and later taking more direct action.
Why is it a great movie:
What makes Taxi Driver is the directing done by of Martin Socrsese, the pure character of Travis Bickle, and the performance given by Robert De Niro. Taxi Driver is a study of a lonely man looking for hope in a world of eternal darkness, and he finds this hope for brief fleeting moments in people before he destroys situation after situation. You connect to Travis through this desire for hope and throughout this film to the point where you can no longer see him face rejection or failure, you can only see him succeed in the only way that he sees best. It is this connection that delivers the final blow on you as you witness a monster born within Travis from all of the things he hates yet desires.
10/10 Perfection in film.
Absolutely worth watching.
I will leave you with Travis, Gods lonely man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=t3c3ELuSF4s