And the OSCAR goes to….’Rocky’ . The sun sets in Hollywood as the industry takes another wrong step and delivers one of the biggest goof ups in its history.The audience claps.There is appreciation as another great American masterpiece bites the dust at the academy.Finicky amusement becomes an award fetcher and psychomatic verve is rebuffed and while it may not be “wrong” it certainly takes podium in the academy’s shameful run of prejudices.
The single greatest character study ever done for film, Scorsese’s Taxi Driver rides on Schrader’s dynamite screenplay split with scandalous and outrageous slices.”He wrote it in 2 weeks with a gun on the table” says Scorsese.Having broken with the world around him, a world inclusive of Pauline, his wife, the woman he left his wife for and the American Film Institute, Schrader found his-self in crushing debt.This transformed him into a pornoholic bum.Purgative in nature,lot of the screenplay represents a fortnight of his desperate attempt at self-therapy.At the end of it all, Schrader “simply gave De Niro his jacket and boots and left him to get on with it”.
Taxi Driver brought with it a sensational sense of societal and ethical dilemma riddled with cautious recklessness.The script could even be considered puerile with the protagonist’s unfettered racial tenet.The original screenplay was a documentation of racist carnage but that was later changed since the makers felt that it could lead to a countrywide riot.But it is essential to understand that this is a film about a racist and not a racist film. It is key to understanding De Niro’s character-a character that advocates heterosexual authority.A character teeming with misconstrued feelings of male primacy and who wants to be with a woman(Cybill Shepherd).
Robert De Niro’s mythical on screen assault in this film is legendary.Transcending all definitions of societal association in a devilishly soft portrayal of human frustration,he shows why he is arguably the greatest actor of our times.Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) – has quickly sanctioned his cult footing in cinema mythology as the confused protagonist of a film that is drenched in slick doses of brutal noir along with a high elemental shock quotient.He has modified into a modern metropolitan monster detached from the thrills of the city and it’s night life. He is also an unchained hero trying to save a 12 year old prostitute and send her back to her parents.Eventually finding himself in alien territory, the taxi driver corkscrews his beliefs into a mistaken but inevitable disconnection.Bickle became a coherent consequence of a cultural situation which new York was going through, that Scorsese, Schrader and De Niro were witnesses to. Travis develops the idea of a civic substitute with no basic “realism” that encourages organized but violent denunciation of low-lives while upholding a numinous sense of this deceptive excellence forced by a supposed intuition of hallowed reformation that gives a person the right to kill.
So which is that first key instant in the film that reveals Bickle’s truly psychotic behaviour? The Pornographic date with Betsy? His meet with the arms dealer? what about his chat with the secret service officer? His infamous monologue..”you talkin’ to me?”..probably.For me it was when the camera elevates to Bickle’s mohawk as he pops the pills.That was a moment that created cinematic history since it showed that the Taxi Driver is now organized and set.
Scorsese’s slow but heavily defined direction for this film speaks of the form of a director who knows and not just understands what the character of Travis represents.I like to call it drum role direction.It’s a gift. He puts himself in a cameo that silences the taxi driver as he tries to comprehend in his twisted mind the purpose of this ‘Passenger Watching Silhouette’ (Scorsese). Scorsese also came up with the bizarre mohawk hair do – a frayed pleat edged with ill-shaven skull through which Travis’s vehemence seems to burst out just like steam escaping the city’s arroyo.Scorsese’s direction suggests a correlation b/ween two seemingly conflicting epitomes.’Protagonaist’ & ‘Antagonist’.The film’s relevant fascination is binding with its sense of confusion and its inability to delimit a reasoned approach in view of its protagonist.Taxi Driver ends on an abrupt unfocused note where the media makes Travis a hero of the world.
This film champions the most pristine of decades that produced the greatest of cinema.Taxi Driver is my pick for Scorsese’s most brilliant masterpiece and the best film of the 70’s behind Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange & Barry Lyndon and Tarkovksy’s Stalker.