Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Taxi Driver (1976)
A character study of an angry loner
Taxi Driver is a character study of Travis Bickle, an angry loner whose anger with the world drives him further and further towards violent rage. The intense focus of the movie on the personality of a single character, almost to the exclusion of the other characters, is reminiscent of Citizen Kane. Like Citizen Kane, the main character's personality is allowed to speak for itself and the viewer is left to interpret what the character's actions mean as best they can; like in real life, there are no easy answers that sum up who a person is.
It is this ambiguity that makes Taxi Driver such an engaging and intelligent film, as the viewer has to think for themselves about who Travis Bickle is, and what his motivations are. Reviewing the comments at IMDb shows that everyone draws their own conclusions.
I think he is and always was dangerously psychotic. I think his loneliness is self-created and not the fault of society; he is not shunned by his fellow taxi drivers when he approaches them, but never tries to be friendly with him. He has the capacity to meet people; after all, when he tries he walks straight into an office and picks up a gorgeous woman. Yet he can't maintain a normal relationship because he makes no attempt to maintain normal human interests like music and films; all he does to amuse himself is go to porno theaters. But neither is he unambiguously bad; he reaches out to a child prostitute and tries to help her. He is a flawed and complex person.
In the end he is hailed as a hero for freeing her and killing her pimps. In my opinion, people miss the significance of this ending. If all we knew about Travis Bickle came from the brief period of time when he thrust himself on the publics attention by killing pimps and helping a child prostitute, wouldn't we be inclined to view him as a vigilante hero, like the cop who breaks the rules and gets the bad guy while suspended? But it's only because we've seen his prior behavior, when he was a nobody and when nobody paid attention to him, that we can put his actions into context and see that his actions were motivated more by rage against the world and a desire for attention than any desire for justice. He could have just as well killed the senator and been a villain instead.
The acting, casting and cinematography of this film are all excellent. But for me what really puts this film on top and gives it a 10/10 is that is has the ambiguity and depth that rewards thinking and repeated viewing, that makes it engaging rather than being just something to watch.