i was fucking tired last night.
18 hr coding was enough for a day.

too tired to take public transportation.
so, decided to take a taxi to get home.
this is some conversation held the driver and me when we were stuck in the late night traffic jam.

he: 'so, what do you do for living?'
me: 'computer related thing.'
he: 'like what? like a programmer?'
me: 'yap. i think i am.'
he: 'what language do you program in?'

he looked like rather a tired and down-and-out man.
so, i didn't expect him to ask about my job/particuler language i use.

me: 'java. almost all the time.'
he: 'hmm... i used to work as a programmer as well.'
he: 'i programmed in cobol at that time.'

everything moves on in a rapid pace these days.
donno, some decades ago, cobol was flushy technology in this field.
you know what, i was fucking scared.
he, the driver, was a programmer.
technology developed too rapid for him/anybody. then
he ends up driving a cab. i'm not looking down taxi drivers or anything, but
that's not what i wanna do after this...

i was too scared to ask him why exactly he ended up being a taxi driver.
'cause i can see why.
will i follow his path??

hope not, but i don't know.
"Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere, in bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere there's no escape from God's lonely man"
-Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver

Columbia Pictures/1976/R/114 Minutes

Taxi Driver is one of the best movies of all time, it was nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture in 1976, won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, and was listed as one of the 100 best films of all time by the American Film Institute.

Taxi Driver was written by Paul Schrader who was, at the time, transitioning from film criticism to film writing. Schrader had recently lost two serious relationships and was living mainly in his car except when his ex-girlfriend was out of town and he stayed alone in her apartment with no heat or electricity. Upon realizing that he hadn't talked to anyone in several weeks he came up with the taxi as a metaphor for a sort of male drifter loneliness. Schrader wrote the script in two drafts over a period of 10 days. Taxi Driver is dedicated to Bernard Herrmann who composed the score; Herrmann composed the score then conducted the first day of recording, the recording was completed the second day, Herrmann died that night in his hotel . Taxi Driver was directed by Martin Scorsese, it was his fourth film.

Characters

The film features Robert DeNiro who plays Travis Bickle, the protagonist, a New York City cabby who is a lonely insomniac who takes up driving a taxi in order to find something to do with his nights while he can't sleep. He is a racist character who hates everyone on the streets in New York. He writes to his parents throughout the movie about an invented girlfriend and how he is doing work for the government so they will not perceive him to be a loser.

Cybil Shephard plays Betsy who is a campaign worker for Palentine for president. Bickle sees her as a perfect angel amongst the scum. He attempts to court her which ends badly and contributes to Bickle's descent into psychosis.

Jodie Foster plays Iris, a 12 year old prostitute who attempts to get into Bickle's cab one night running from her pimp. Bickle decides that he needs to rescue her which leads to the final shootout scene.

Sport, played by Harvey Keitel, is Iris' pimp and lover. The character was originaly supposed to be a small part but Keitel took interest in Sport and developed him further. Sport was modeled after a pimp that Keitel had noticed in a doorway in his own neighborhood -- Hell's Kitchen.

Tom, one of Betsy's co-workers at the Palentine campaign headquarters, is played by Albert Brooks. Brooks had up to that point been a stand up comedian. His character is funny in a way that is very believable. He is threatened by Bickle's interest in Betsy as he seems to be himself interested in her. Tom's character was, for the most part, improvised.

"Wizard" is another cabby that Bickle is close to, he plays sort of a father figure to Bickle. Wizard, played by Peter Boyle, tries to give Bickle advice and help him out of his slump that is leading him into psycosis.

Synopsis

Travis Bickle is an ex-marine who takes a job as a New York City cabby in order to occupy his sleepless nights. He is lonely and disaffected. He falls in love with Betsy, a campaign worker at Palentine campaign headquarters. Their courtship ends badly when Travis tries to take Betsy to a dirty movie because he assumes that is what couples do. Travis becomes further alienated when Betsy refuses to take his calls or accept the gifts that he sends her. Bickle buys a small arsenal of handguns and decides to do something about the way the world is. His first plan is to assasinate Palentine, he then changes his mind and decides to rescue Iris from the world that he believes her to be trapped in. He first tries to give her money to escape, when that doesn't work he storms the brownstone where Iris works and kills everyone.

interesting Facts

  • The final shootout scene was desaturated so that the blood would look less realistic. This was required by the MPAA in order to keep the R rating.
  • Martin Scorsese, the film's director, appeared in Taxi Driver several times. He is sitting on the steps of the Palentine compaign headquarters the first time Betsy is shown and he is the guy who talks about killing his wife because she is cheating on him.
  • Robert DeNiro was shooting a film in Italy when he was cast for the part. He flew to New York several times over weekends and actually drove a cab in the city as research for the part.
  • All of the scenes that take place in the cab were actually shot in the cab on the streets of New York. The cab was never towed for these scenes, DeNiro actually drove and the crew all rode in the cab (the sound man was in the trunk).
  • The girl who is shown as Iris' friend in the movie, seen walking with her in several scenes, was actually a 15 year old prostitute from the streets of New York. When she was discovered by Paul Schrader he called Martin Scorsese and told him "I found Iris".
  • The famous "You talkin' to me" scene in which Deniro plays with his guns in front of the mirror was improvised.

I think the most interesting aspect of this film is that unlike classical Hollywood films it offers no objective narration and has a completely fixed point of view.

As Travis appears in almost every shot, we are only able to see events from his (very disturbing) perspective. There's also an unusual number of point-of-view shots. Scorcese uses the technique of slow motion, usually reserved for romantic scenes, to depict the heightened senses of the character as he views prostitutes and pimps on the side of the road.

This film is fantastic in many ways, but I never really grasped the ending. The transformation of Travis from an outcast to a societal hero seems almost in the realm of fantasy, which doesn't work well when the film otherwise tries so hard for realism.

It occured to me that perhaps the ending is a fantasy. This is possible considering the ambiguity of the last sequence. Maybe the portion of the film after the gunshot is just the inward thoughts of Travis as he dies. It makes more sense to me at least... Any thoughts?

The alarm clock is in the dark, and its deep, familiar beep is in stark contrast to the early morning silence. Three snooze buttons later, I'm not on my mattress, but wobbling, and then on again. A few more minutes, I'm wondering if I really need money. My stomach grumbles, and I lose my objectivity. I have to eat. Hence, I have to work. Taxi driving.

I'm in the shower and too lazy to separate the entangling mix of my rational thought and my emotion. The stress bears down on me: could I mean something? When I drove past her, did I change her life? What if she was late for an interview? What if I could have gotten her there on time? What if she didn't get the job? This was her fifth try; she will be so crushed. She'll mope around the house and be depressed for weeks. Her cute but shallow boyfriend of just a month will leave, and her innocent, fragile heart won't be able to stand it. She'll take her own life, and it will be my fault. I could have stopped and opened the door to her gentle face, her soft giggle, her forgiving eyes. I could have saved her.

*

The time lights up on my dash board as the engine clears its throat, getting ready to sing carbon dioxide. I shift to reverse, a hard right, gear one, accelerator down. Same thing every day; why am I still here? The people are different, but they act alike, naively putting their lives in my hands, entrusting me with their safety and their future. Without a second thought, they drop more pressure on me than my measly fare could ever hope to cover. Why am I still here?

**

So I pick up a passenger. She's young, she's pretty, she's got lots of bags. She's got somewhere to go. I guess that's why I stay; I can be a part of any life I want and none that I don't. The hope in her voice, the strength in her eyes -- we're moving on together, the next plane out to our new life.

And it's always like that; every time I drive I am born again and the years tick away with the fare. When it dings, I die. They get out and I wander in consternation, lost in a thousand possibilities. I've got nowhere to go. So I pick up a passenger.

***

But for all my affectation, the day still drags, the cycle continues. Endless rebirths in an applied context, I am a businessman and a crook, a mother and a father, an individual and a population.

So when my hands slip, they've got a perfect hold. When I drift across the lane, I'm parked and speeding. And when I crash this car, I'm not dying, I've always been dead. I've always been alive.

I wish I had a face.

Taxi Driver
Its Film and Music

Taxi Driver is nervous, tired, fuzzy and dark. That’s really the only way it can be described. Encompassing that is the fact that, more than anything else, Taxi Driver can be recognized as a piece of New York City film-making. New York (particularly at night) is also nervous, tired, fuzzy and dark and similarly is almost impossible to describe. It’s almost twice as impossible for me in particular to describe either of these things, seeing how I live in the thick of it and don’t have the appropriate distance to be anything approaching objective. But here goes.

The main concept of the film is the desire for a second chance, a fresh start. T.S. Eliot would call it rebirth or renewal. But our protagonist isn’t content to wait until April for things to begin again. He cleans out the back of his cab every night. He is constantly driving under gushing fire hydrants. He sees New York as a cesspool and thinks it needs a good scrubbing. He spends the entire film treating symptoms and not diseases.

We get a wonderful idea as to what it must be like to be an insomniatic cabdriver. We see the back seat primarily through the rearview mirror. An inordinate amount of screen time is given over to streetlights, stoplights and shots through the cab’s windows. There is a wonderfully voyeuristic feeling to the movie - Travis spends most of his time watching people. He sits outside the campaign headquarters. He keeps an eye on his passengers. He watches the world go by.

The camera and Travis are an ideal match in this film. The camera acts like a cab - it doesn’t do anything daring or particularly noticeable except for the fact that it rarely keeps still. It’s always zooming or tracking, and many scenes are done in one shot or with amazingly smooth editing.

The only time the camera isn’t neutral is in the last 15 minutes or so - what looks like a crane shot of the aftermath of the shootout. It works - it’s the only part of the movie that’s really sensational (the pseudo assassination attempt was nothing compared to this) and it’s the only part where Travis succeeds in acting out against what he believes to be wrong. Therefore, a little unbelievable camera work is appropriate.

The lighting seems to be garish, but mostly realistic. That is to say, it might not be strictly natural but it certainly looks like it. Even the pulsating red lights that plague Travis’ nights look contextually correct.

As the camera’s behavior fits Travis’ behavior to a tee, so does the music. It fits the overall character quite well. There are three themes. The first is a jazz theme that usually appears when Travis is driving, usually at night. It’s hard to describe the exact sound except that it sounds like New York. The second is a military theme that goes with Travis’ monologues and journal entries. It smacks of precision, order and repetition. The third, like the only fancy camera move in the film, occurs after the shootout (not during it - there is no music whatsoever during that - the only sound is the exaggerated reverberation of the gunshots.)

There is no incidental music. The only musical themes are these three, and they exist almost completely without alteration. As well written as these themes are they do tend to create a feeling of monotony. They blend into the background unless you’re actively listening to them, but when you’re out to find them they’re everywhere and…well, they get on your nerves. That fits the picture of New York that we’re given to believe, seen through the eyes of a frustrated and bored cabdriver whose nights tend to blend into months or years of darkness.

Ralph Rosenblum (I believe) said that good film-making style is invisible- it’s not seen, it’s felt and understood. This film fits that description perfectly. The camera mimics our main character in such a wonderful way that we merely get sucked into the picture more than we would with a completely invisible camera. Travis is obviously a little nuts, but we empathize with him anyway. A camera that made a bigger deal of itself would make him a less likable person.

Likewise, if the music was more intrusive it would pull our attention away from Travis’ life and make us realize that we really are just experiencing a fantasy. This is one of those rare movies where the camera and the score compliment the acting when necessary and get out of the way when not. It’s tight, and attention was paid to the little things. It’s those little things that are truly appreciated.

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