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?
"WHAT IS YOUR NAME?"
In TAXI DRIVER (Martin Scorsese 1976), we get a glimpse into Travis Bickle’s (Robert De Niro) relationship with women from an important interaction at a cinema concession stand. The attendant, De Niro’s then-girlfriend Diahnne Abbott, is credited as "Concession Girl", a name that suggests she is a child, lacking autonomy. She is hunched over reading a magazine when he approaches her and rarely meets his eye during their conversation. He repeatedly asks for her name and slowly leans into her, only backing away when she calls for her manager. Travis continually ignores her demonstrations through body language that his advances have made her uncomfortable until this moment.
Travis later demonstrates an apparent lack of boundaries once again when he asks the object of his obsession Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) on a date, even echoing his earlier personal space breaching as he leans dominantly on her desk. He delivers a speech about how she is lonely, admitting that he has been watching her from afar. He seems to be completely unaware that his behaviour is inappropriate and that she has only accepted his invitation to go on a date out of fear of him. His persistent pursuit of her continues even when she leaves the porn theatre he has taken her to on the date and refuses to answer his numerous phone calls afterwards.
Whether Scorsese believes that the way Travis treats women is a flaw or strength of character is somewhat ambiguous. While Travis is introduced and given a backstory, the woman at the concession stand is given no context and so the audience may be inclined to sympathise with the more familiar Travis. His relationship with the women he is attracted to is dysfunctional. He assumes that he is entitled to their time and romantic interest but he only ever makes them feel uneasy.
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.