Tuesday, February 9, 2016

'Taxi Driver' turns 40

Travis at the wheel of his taxi.
by F.T. Rea

In 1976 the USA was getting over what many observers then saw as its worst foreign policy mistake, ever -- the Vietnam War. The Watergate scandal that had brought down a president, Richard Nixon, was in the rear-view mirror.

As the nation averted its collective eye from those concerns, to celebrate its 200th anniversary with gaudy nostalgic celebrations, punk rock was starting to gain traction. It was also the year Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, "Taxi Driver,"  was released.

In 2011 I penned a piece about "Taxi Driver" for the James River Film Journal to promote its screening, as part of the 18th annual James River Film Festival. 
Through the taxi’s windshield Travis [Bickle], as played by Robert De Niro, drinks in the filth he sees on the streets. It begins to focus his anger. His revulsion with the paved-over, neon-lit world outside his cab’s yellow skin mixes with a pitiful romantic disappointment to make for seriously bad medicine. De Niro’s unforgettable portrayal of haunted Travis, the alienated Vietnam War veteran — slowly giving in to his madness — was something to see in 1976. Thirty-five years later it still is. Yes, “Taxi Driver” is as ‘70s as it gets.
Click here to read "'Taxi Driver' at 35."

To read an article about what films most influenced Scorsese in creating his vision for "Taxi Driver" click here to read "'Taxi Driver' 40th anniversary: five films that influenced Scorsese’s masterpiece" at BFI Film Forever.

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