Taxi Driver (1976)

Crime, Drama
Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks
A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.
A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.
  • Columbia Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 08 Feb 1976 Released:
  • 15 Jun 1999 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Paul Schrader Writer:
  • Martin Scorsese Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Trailer:

A story about a lonely man5/10

Taxi Driver is one of the best films ever made. This is one of those films that you do not get tired of seeing and every time you watch it you realize a little detail that you have not seen before. Excellent actors, a good director, an impressive soundtrack and a real story are the main appeals of this film.

This film is about loneliness, about the isolation of a man in a society full of scum. His objective is to finish with the scum of the streets. The story uses a taxi driver as a metaphor of loneliness and it has some kind of irony because we can see that a city which is full of people can be the most lonely place for a man. The long nights in the city, the night environment full of whores, junkies, pimps and thieves are the main elements of the world in which Travis Bickle lives. Travis is an misunderstood guy who is seeking desperately for some kind of company because as he says 'loneliness has followed me all my life, everywhere' but at the same time he seems not to do anything to avoid his situation and it is seen when he goes with Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to a porn cinema. At the end of the film the character makes real his most violent fantasies, with a look of certain soldiers from Vietnam, and he behaves like this because of his loneliness, his alienation and because he does not find any sense to his life. The violent behaviour becomes Travis into a hero, although he had killed many people and he could do it again. Although he acts with an extreme violence the spectator understand him and the reasons why he acts that way. The soundtrack of the film, which is composed by Bernard Herrmann, inspires some kind of loneliness and sometimes it is absolutely terrifying like in a horror film. This music and the slow camera showing the streets help to introduce the spectator into the world of Travis, to know what he is thinking about.

In general I cannot say any negative aspect of this film because I have not found anything bad. Although it is a film of the 70s it is not an old-fashioned movie because the essence of the story, the reality that is shown on it, can be perfectly referred to the current society. This film has the privilege of having made famous the sentence ‘You talking' to me? You talking' to me?' which will remain in the history of cinema. This is an authentic masterpiece.
Disturbing, powerful, relevant, important10/10

A towering classic of American cinematic power. Martin Scorsese teams up with one of the most intense actors of that time to create a masterpiece of urban alienation. Paul Schrader's magnificent script paints a portrait of loneliness in the largest city of the world. Travis never once enters into a meaningful relationship with any character anywhere in the film. He is the most hopelessly alone person I've ever encountered on film.

He is alone with his thoughts, and his thoughts are dark ones. The film fools you on a first viewing. Is Travis an endearing eccentric? Sure, he's odd, but he's so polite, and he's got a quirky sense of humor. His affection for Betsy is actually rather endearing. But on a second view, you see it for what it is. The audience comes to see Travis's psychosis gradually, but there's actually far less development than one might think. When he talks about cleaning up the city, the repeat viewer knows he doesn't mean some sort of Giuliani-facelift. This is less a film about a character in development as it is a kind of snapshot. To be sure, it takes the stimulus to provoke the response, but does that imply some kind of central change in the character?

Tremendous supporting roles are brought to life through vivid performances by Keitel and Foster especially. Shepard's character, Betsy, is little more than a foil to highlight Travis's utter alienation from society, but she is still impeccably portrayed. With only two scenes that don't center on Travis, it is unavoidably De Niro's show. The life with which the supporting cast imbues their characters is a credit to themselves, and to the director's willingness to let the film develop from the intersection of diverse ideas and approaches. What would the plot lose by eliminating the Albert Brooks character (Tom)? Nothing at all. He makes almost no impact on Travis's life, which is where the plot lives. But his inclusion makes the film as a whole much richer and fuller.

As a piece of American cinema history, this film will live forever. But far more important than that, this film will survive as a universal, ever-relevant examination of the workings of the alienated mind. The story doesn't end when the credits roll. We know Travis will snap again. But the story doesn't end with Travis either. It continues today in the cities and in the schools. The film is about the brutal power of the disaffected mind.

This film didn't cause the incidents in Colombine, or Hawaii, or Seattle, or wherever you care to look, even with all of its disturbing images of violence. It didn't cause those things. It predicted them.
Diary of a madman10/10
The script of "Taxi Driver" is built like a diary, the diary of a very ordinary guy who gets hired as a night taxi driver back from Vietnam, because he can't sleep at night. A very ordinary guy who tries to break his isolation, but can't, while violence accumulates inside him. One of those unnoticed people with dark things on their mind, one of those who break up the news one day with some extraordinary outburst of rage, to fall back immediately into anonymity.

The gradual transformation of man into beast in this movie is chilling. It's still funny and pathetic when the hero threatens himself in front of the mirror ("you're talking to me?"), but when he comes out with a mohawk hairdo and dark glasses, it is obvious that nasty stuff is going to take place. As in "A Clockwork Orange", violence is recuperated by society depending on what purpose it is used for. Whereas he was about to murder the candidate for presidency, "god's lonely man" fails and instead kills a vicious pimp who exploits teenage prostitutes. The potential criminal becomes a hero for a day.

Such stories happen everywhere of course, but it seems that the bewildering atmosphere of New York City's summer night was the best choice. "Taxi Driver" gives us a very realistic approach of New York, in a way that is not seen on screen so often, at least not anymore, whilst that city is probably the one in the world that has been filmed the biggest number of times.

Most of the movie takes place at night. The credits open on the blazing lights of the yellow taxi cab moving slowly in the dark rainy streets. A kaleidoscope of neonlight appears through the dripping windows as the driver's eyes blink in the front mirror. The night is the hero's universe, it's the time when "all the animals come out", as he says. By contrast, the few daylight scenes look somewhat off-key, but this was definitely intentional.

The final scene still appears today as extremely violent, but at least, it shows murder for what it is. Brutal, ugly, crude. It is something one tends to forget about after seeing so many police series where people get shot so often that it gets casual. Real violence is not casual when you face it, and here is a film that makes you face it.

The directing is first class and deservedly made path for Scorsese as a world renowned artist. Some techniques he used here are unusual for American cinema, like focusing on details for a few seconds. The movie is enhanced by an excellent music soundtrack by jazz composer Bernard Herrman who died before the picture was even released.

Two of the actors also deservedly made it to stardom. Robert de Niro plays a very unglamorous character, but his presence on screen is so intense that it's no wonder it made such an impression. As for Jodie Foster, she already appeared in films as a child, but playing a teenage prostitute was certainly not an easy challenge, and probably it was that role that really turned her into a major actress.

"Taxi Driver" was a big hit when it came out, both for the public and the critics. It won the Palme d'Or in Cannes, and served as a trend setter for many later films, like for instance Quentin Tarantino's and Abel Ferrara's. But even today, the original model seems difficult to emulate, probably because achieving a masterpiece is a rare thing, by definition.
An Enigmatic Masterpiece5/10

If a picture is worth a thousand words then this movie (moving picture) is worth a million words, which is why it has probably generated at least a million words.

What can one say. The obvious: that "Taxi Driver" is great, it is. That it is a masterpiece, it is. What sets this film apart from so many other films, including great films, is that it is an enigma. Every time I watch this film I see something else, I notice something else, I feel something else, I wonder something else. And I am, clearly, not the only one who reacts to the film this way that is why it lends itself to endless speculation and discussion.

Since so many positive reviews have been made, rather than add my own red hot glowing review I thought I would address those people who have written that they don't like "Taxi Driver" because, they say, they find it dull and boring, hard to follow, etc. These people miss some important points about the film.

ONE, "Taxi Driver" is NOT an action film. If you want an action film watch "Die Hard" and its numerous sequels, or "Lethal Weapon" and its sequels, not to mention "Rambo" and thousands of other "action flicks." Nothing wrong with them, per se. Nothing wrong with liking them either. But is wrong to put down "Taxi Driver" because of what it is not.

TWO, "Taxi Driver" is about loneliness and loneliness is characterized by an almost crushing boredom and emptiness and Travis Bickle's character reflects that. His life is dull and boring, hardly anything happens to him and that is what "Taxi Driver" shows - Bickle's pathetic life.

THREE, some people say that they don't understand the plot, Bickle's attitudes and behaviour, etc. But that is because "Taxi Driver" is about a man who is profoundly emotionally disturbed although he (and his buddies) don't seem to know it. His actions aren't rational because he isn't rational. His actions make no sense because he makes no sense. Offhand, I can't think of any other film that has depicted mental illness as well as "Taxi Driver" and no film that attempts to show the world as seen by someone like Travis Bickle.

There you go: three reasons to address the most common criticisms of the film with one notable exception, its controversial ending, but THAT is a whole topic in itself which is just more proof of why "Taxi Driver" is so worthwhile - when viewers aren't sure what actually happens in the end (Is Travis hallucinating as he is dying? Is that what the slow moving overhead tracking shot suggests? Or does he really become a hero in the media and get realeased back into the world with his buddies? Etc, etc.) The questions and issues raised by "Taxi Driver" just go one and on.

Now if after reading the above you still don't think "Taxi Driver" is a great film, I can't help you. I am NOT saying you have to like (or love) "Taxi Driver" just appreciate it or at least acknowledge its greatness even if it isn't your cup of tea. Actually, I don't love "Taxi Driver" because it doesn't lend itself to love. It is too disturbing a picture precisely because it is way too close to reality, it cuts too close to the bone for my comfort (or rather, discomfort). It is not comfortable to watch because it isn't supposed to be. So if "Taxi Driver" makes you feel uncomfortable and uneasy it should because real life is uncomfortable and uneasy (unless you are born rich or something).

Finally, after watching it again for the nth time I have begun to notice (and feel) just how smooth "Taxi Driver" is. The overall feel and flow of the film is incredibly smooth in which not only each scene but each and every movement and gesture flows into the other imperceptibly. Sometimes I play back scences and sequences over and over to catch how it happens. In fact, I see it happening and still can't quite figure out how it is done but I have a hunch - DeNiro. DeNiro is just amazing in this film. If you haven't done it already, watch it with the remote in your hand and play some of the scenes in slow motion and you will SEE what I am talking about. Only DeNiro could do what he does. The sheer minimalism of his performance is just stunning. How he gets so much from so little never ceases to amaze me. DeNiro's performance in "Taxi Driver" only reminds me of what sports announcer Curt Gowdy exclaimed after one of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson's incredible plays in the 1970 World Series,"This guy is another world!"
Scorsese's dark masterpiece of urban alienation10/10

Despite what some might see as limited by technical flaws and/or as an overly simplistic plot, Taxi Driver deserves its critical reputation as a cinematic masterpiece. Some 23 years later, the existential plight of Travis Bickle, "God's lonely man," continues to pack a hard emotional punch. In fact, it's hard to know where to begin when praising the elements of this film - such elements as the dark location shots of a (now gone) seedy Times Square, the cinema verite settings of the cabbies and campaign workers, the magnificent Bernard Hermann score, Paul Schrader's fine script, the memorable performances of Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle all must be mentioned. However, the brilliance of this film is primarily a result of the brilliance of De Niro and Scorsese, one of the greatest actor-director teams in movie history. This is an unforgettable film and rates a 10 out of 10, in my estimation.