Taxi Driver Analysis

Topics: Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese, Film noir Pages: 2 (6515 words) Published: April 24, 2012
Genre Film Knight

3 May 1995

Taxi Driver as Radicalized Film Noir

In his film Taxi Driver, Martin Scorcese presents a world where characters are subsumed in the  urban landscape, vertical planes obscure the horizon, and hazy lights reflect off streets perpet­ ually slick with rain. Scorcese combines realistic settings with expressionist cinematography to  construct a stylized vision of meaninglessness, in which a psychopathic protagonist moves from  street to street without direction, finding no release for the nameless anxiety he feels for the city.  Taxi Driver, with its unconventional (anti­)hero, Travis Bickle, lack of substantive plot, and mix  of documentary and abstract photography, defies traditional efforts to place it in a specific genre.  It is a sort of detective film without a detective; a gangster film with only second­rate, rarely­ seen mafia figures; a social­problem film with society itself as the problem. The themes of Taxi   Driver—corruption,   urban   oppression,   violence,   nostalgia—are   so   large   and   encompassing,  diagetically and in the real­world, they expand beyond the barriers of a single genre. Scorcese  makes few attempts to particularize these themes to Travis’s surroundings, instead requiring the  audience to harbor the same vague sense of general filth that plagues his protagonist. Despite its  apparent   rejection   of   generic   convention,  Taxi   Driver  is   not   without   stylistic   and   thematic  precedent. Film noir, a style of film dominant roughly from the early­forties to late­fifties, also  features   expressionist   photography   that   captures   morally   and   psychologically   unstable  protagonists making their way through dark and corrupt cities. Generally, these films’ heroes  were rough, “hard­boiled” detectives/investigators torn from the pages of dime novels. As the  style of film noir evolved, “Hollywood lighting grew darker, characters more corrupts, themes  more...
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