Taxi Driver

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The “Are You Talkin’ to Me?” scene in Taxi Driver is one of the most famous and widely imitated scenes in cinematic history. Travis Bickle is talking to himself and the world as a whole while he points his gun and threatens into that mirror. This is a breaking point in Travis’ life and his psyche. He has become more and more disassociated with reality and now he must act on his objections to the world.

Scorsese shows Travis’ skewed point of view through a number of effective mise-en-scene, camera and editing techniques. Firstly, he shows Travis mostly as his mirror image, which has an offsetting effect. The mirror’s frame is not in the shot after shot 2a, so it seems like a straight-on view of him, but something isn’t right. This is a genius POV technique because this is how Travis sees himself at that moment and it is chilling to step into his shoes. Travis is starting to take on a sort of God complex where he feels the need, and the right, to go ahead and clean up society himself. His self-hatred is also evident as these two personalities within himself (him and his mirror image) converse. Another technique used here is off-centered framing when Travis starts to really get into his monologue. This reflects the off-centered view he has of the world.

Scorsese also uses a number of dissolves as Travis is staring at the poster of Palantine. This effect echoes the shot in one of the first scenes, when Travis is walking down 57th street, where the dissolve brings Travis closer to us in a mysterious time and space that cannot be relied on. This furthers the view that Travis’ personality and psyche are fragmented and disassociated from one another.

An unusual editing technique is also used here, which is the Jump Cut backwards or “rewind” of Travis’ threatening VO as he turns towards the camera in slow motion. Firstly, Scorsese used Slow-mo throughout the film to single Travis out in a crowd and show his perspective as different than anyone else’s....
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