New York City that is depicted in Taxi Driver seems to be too real to be true. It is a place where violence runs rampant, drugs are cheap, and sex is easy. This world may be all too familiar to many that live in major metropolitan areas. But, in the film there is something interesting, and vibrant about the streets that Travis Bickle drives alone, despite the amount of danger and turmoil that overshadows everything in the nights of the city. In the film “Taxi Driver” director Martin Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader find and express a trial that many people face, the search for belonging and acceptance.
The character of Travis Bickle roams the nights in his taxi cab, and witnesses all of this “open sewer”, loathing the people who live within it’s realm. Travis is a complex character in his hate for the world in which he works. The streets on which he works are the same streets that he makes his living, and pays his rent, buys his booze, and eventually buys his guns. He is a victim of the world that he hates, because it is the only world he knows. This is viewed best in the scene where Travis takes Betsy to the “movies”.
When Travis was in the café with Betsy earlier in the film, it would be hard to say that there was really anything to odd about it. But later on in the film, on Travis and Betsy’s second date, things become clear that Travis has a different understanding of what is socially acceptable. Travis can’t seem to understand why Betsy doesn’t want to go see the pornographic movie that he has taken her to. He thinks that this is a place where couples go, and seems to think that it’s a decent place to go on a date. There is something alluring about Travis’s naivete, something comical, and maybe a little ironic. Travis isn’t naïve to the world of drugs, sex, and smut; Travis is naïve to the world of decency, where the majority of society attempts to dwell.
As Travis’s taxi drives down the road, the viewer gets the chance to view the streets through the eyes of Travis. You see things through the windshield and rearview mirrors, all luminescent in the neon glow of the night. The streets are filled with different sorts; prostitutes on the street corners, pimps in the cafes, and homeless people wandering through the mess aimlessly. As film critic Leonard Quart put’s it
“The city seen through Travis’ windshield a...
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...ally acceptable world of Betsy, his infatuation, Travis is much of the same.
Aside the Director, and screenwriter, many people can relate to Travis’s struggle between worlds, and the uncertainty of how to attain status in the better of the two. This film depicts the striving that we take to find morals. This quest isn’t always successful though. This is viewed in “Taxi Driver” as Travis’s assassination attempt on a presidential candidate, which fails. Film critic Amy Taubin explains this best when she writes, “….the assassination failed is only fitting, since Taxi Driver is a film steeped in failure—the US failure in Vietnam, the failure of the 1960’s counterculture and…the failure of masculinity as a set of behavioral codes on which to mold a life.”
The film “Taxi Driver” is a true undertaking of the human longing to fit in, and be adequate. It depicts all aspects of this, by showing the triumph of Travis’s heroic emancipation of Iris, and the failure of the assassination of the presidential candidate Palentine. “Taxi Driver” shows all of this in a least expected but very beautiful way, it is a timeless ballad to all unsure, astray, and wandering personalities.
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