It’s the 1970’s, and having returned from Vietnam, Travis Buckle finds himself at a loss. New York provides a broken and hellish backdrop to his lack of meaning. Struggling to sleep, he takes up a job as taxi driver, and ultimately resolves to fix what he sees as corruption in society. Bickle’s narration reminds me significantly of Rorschach’s journey in Watchmen. From the sometimes rambling voice-over, to the constant threat of violence, Taxi Driver feels just as much an inspiration for Rorschach as anything Batman related.
I originally saw Taxi Driver years ago in – I was probably 20 – and didn’t appreciate it. Now in my mid-thirties I can see the film more clearly. In many ways I’m more hopeful and optimistic than Travis ever is, but I can see where he’s coming from. It’s very easy to feel both down about, and downtrodden, by the world as it is. Fortunately most of us have means to deal with those feelings. That you can sympathize with Travis is one of the film’s, and De Niro’s, greatest achievements.
The furore over Jodie Foster’s casting as a young prostitute doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Not only is Foster brilliant in the role, but the way it’s written avoids sleaze whilst maintaining the danger. The situation is shown as something that could be improved should others be willing to help.
Taxi Driver is a powerful film, and just as important now as it was in 1976. Bickle’s representation, and the way in which the media twists and skews the facts, is something that is vital to see and be aware of now.
If all you know if this film is ‘are you talking to me?’, then please find it and give it a go. A great film that is absolutely worth your time.