This week our writers return to MUBIVIEWS with the classic American vigilante film TAXI DRIVER (Martin Scorsese 1976). As a regular favourite on lists of the greatest film of all time, what will our writers make of this critically acclaimed Neo-noir?
In Martin Scorsese’s TAXI DRIVER (1976), the morally ambiguous Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an outcast who lives in isolation. His claustrophobic apartment causes his obsessive thoughts to take over, forcing Travis to have restless nights. Subsequently, Travis becomes a New York taxi driver, endlessly driving through the darkness of the city to occupy his sleepless nights. While Travis navigates this tedious job he is able to keep himself alert by watching members of the public.
The first time we witness Travis’s voyeuristic tendencies is when he first gazes upon the character Betsy (Cybill Shepard), a political worker. He admires her from afar from the safety of his yellow cab. After gaining enough courage, he takes her on an awkward date to a porn theatre in the hope of finding companionship and comfort with her. However, Betsy is disgusted with his choice of date and flees. Travis craves contact with others but, due to his unstable mindset, he scares off everyone he interacts with.
Travis’s voyeurism reflects upon his mindset, implying loneliness and isolation. He stares at members of the public with a jealous eye. When he first lays eyes on Betsy, she is playing around with her colleague Tom (Albert Brookes). This is interpreted by Travis as her being flirtatious and contributes to his jealously directed at her co-worker. Later in the film Travis comes across the young prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) and is immediately captivated by her. He watches Iris from afar with the intent of protecting her, stalking her in his cab to make sure she is safe from the “scum” of the streets. Overall, voyeurism demonstrates the instability of Travis’s mindset, it not only reflects his loneliness and isolation but also indicates a damaged and unstable mind.
Every day this week a different writer will provide their perspective on our MUBIVIEWS film and each post will be open to comments from our readers. Watch TAXI DRIVER on mubi.com until 4 July 2017 and join the discussion!
One MUBI film, five perspectives, endless possibilities.