BLINDSPOT: Taxi Driver (1976)

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You talkin’ to me?” asked Travis Bickle.

Back to 1976, you can finally witness the wonders: Brian de Palma’s creepier Carrie, Solaris, The classic cult Omen, and Oscar-winning Rocky. Yet, I finally found the real gem of the year, Martin Scorsese’s most visceral piece, Taxi Driver.

I never thought that a movie about a New York cabbie could present this profoundly deep character study of a sociopath with unpredictable motive and latent violence. It was all manifested in an insomniac ex-Marine, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), who roamed around the late night of New York city, bathed with the neon lights, and loathed the city’s filthiest scum as a taxi driver. Travis wasn’t a menace; he just never knew how to connect to people and he got enough of it. He’s ambiguous, but isn’t that what makes things worse?

Martin Scorsese was in his finest year—crafting the finest satire to humanity through a story full of bizarre maze written by Paul Schrader and highlighting Robert de Niro’s multifaceted performance with touches of violence. Yet, the best part of it was: how Taxi Driver drove us through someone’s dazzled mind while the man himself doubting his sanity. It’s a groundbreaking storytelling in cinema, which unfortunately haven’t occurred twice until now.

What I like most from Taxi Driver:

  • Robert De Niro’s amazing—how he talked, how he dressed, even his hairstyle was amazing. Travis Bickle is his most iconic role ever.
  • The narrative, crafted by Paul Schrader based on his personal reflection, was a labyrinth full of mesmerizing things. I always perceived that it’s a sketch of Travis Bickle’s mind.
  • The film goes mostly silent. Yet, the ‘cheap jazzy night’ music score composed by the late Bernard Herrmann is out of everything super excellent. Every repeated tunes escalated the journey in the midst of NY night with all the scums.
  • The semi-documenter cinematography along with graphic violence and the bird-view camera during the climax scene: Marvellous.
  • “You talkin’ to me?” scene was awesome—it’s fun and deep.
  • Martin Scorsese’s cameo! I never thought he’d been that young.
  • Young Jodie Foster.

What I do not like:

  • The blood seemed fake during the climactic scene. That’s all.


Martin Scorsese’s at his finest hour with his visceral direction in Taxi Driver. It’s a profound character study of a man who questions his sanity and the whole movie just explores it correctly.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Crime, Drama Directed by: Martin Scorsese Written by: Paul Schrader Starred by: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel Running Time: 113 mins Rated R


10 responses

  1. I remember seeing this movie a few years ago, this was amazing! I got to get on it again, because it was a really impressive film. Martin Scorsese was pretty creepy as that passenger (I remember actually being surprised to find out that was him, I never would have guessed) and of course it’s interesting to see a teenage Jodie Foster (who was still quite talented when she was only 14). Naturally Robert De Niro was also great as the taxi driver himself. I think it was just one I picked up on an impulse because I found it at HMV for $10.00 and heard good things about but it turned out to be worth every penny.

    I actually took an action movie class last semester, and we spent a week talking about the urban vigilante cycle of the 70’s and 80’s, which included Taxi Driver. Basically during that time there was a whole bunch of films made based around the idea of a character deciding he (it’s usually a man) just can’t stand the high crime rates and the authorities proving useless so he takes the law into his own hands. Often there’s a sense of moral ambiguity and uncertainty of whether the hero is necessarily doing the right thing but the audience still experiences a thrill. At any rate a lot of them are at least better than the big-budget disaster cycle that was going on around the same time. Taxi Driver might not be what I would usually label as an “action film” but it does fit the general tone of those vigilante films.

    What I’m trying to say is that if you liked Taxi Driver you might also enjoy some of the other vigilante films of the period. Dirty Harry is of course the OTHER most iconic film of the movement, and arguably also one of the first. Escape From New York also has some similar ideas with a science fiction twist, and if you’re really desperate you can try Death Wish (though I’ve been told it’s not very good). Another one I’d recommend (as well as a rare case of a female vigilante) is Ms. 45, which takes the violence of Taxi Driver to a whole new level. If it’s any interest I actually did a review of that one back in October (as well as discussed vigilantism in more detail):

    Taxi Driver was definitely a good choice for this month, and I’m glad you finally got to see it. That also covers both the entries on your list I’ve actually seen now, so it should be interesting to see what you have to say about your next choice.

    1. Thanks for your suggestions! Taxi Driver was definitely a cinematic experience people should’ve seen when they’re ready. I mean I can’t imagine the world without Taxi Driver.
      And yeah Scorsese was very unpredictable at that time (on-screen and off-screen).
      Urban vigilante was a hype back then? I never had idea of it. But thanks for your explanation.

  2. Salah satu film favorit gue! Tapi kata temen gue ini film favoritnya orang-orang yang kesepian. lol.

    1. Elo kesepian bro? Hehe gue baru nonton tapi suka bgttt

  3. It’s a shame that Paul Schrader didn’t get credits that he deserved. Scorsese’s Taxi Driver wouldn’t be fantastic without him.

    1. Both of them are fantastic!

  4. So in 1976, America was celebrating its 200th birthday, and things couldn’t be more of a mess. The starry eyes of some would have you believe that life was embodied by Rocky; the truth was that things were closer to Taxi Driver.

    A week or two back, I actually read a book that gave this film a lot of context (“Love Goes to Buildings on Fire” by Will Hermes). In this book, he spends most of the time talking about the amazing music that came out of NYC from 73 – 77, but he also paints a portrait of the crumbling city itself.

    It was bankrupt, filthy, crumbling, dangerous, overrun by the disowned and the derelict. In short, it was NOTHING like the shiny beacon that New York has become today. When you think about it as that filthy hellhole, it’s a lot easier to understand how someone like Travis might snap…and how the public might see him as a hero.

    Great piece – this film is an all time fave.

    1. It was a great insight you gave, Ryan. I’m glad I finally saw it! It becomes one of my all time fave, too, now.

  5. Great review! This is my Blind Spot for April. I’m looking forward to finishing it. I’ve seen about the first 20 minutes or so.

    1. Thanks! Come April, you gotta see it soon. Hopefully you’ll like it!

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