Taxi Driver: The Filth of the Streets and of Self
The opening shot is Robert DeNiro’s character, Travis Bickle’s eyes in the review mirror intensely gazing at the city. It then transitions to the view outside of the taxi to the colorful, hectic streets of New York City. This exaggerates the importance of the taxi itself and the main character’s point of view from within it. Bickle is a veteran Marine who can’t sleep and decides to take the job of driving the long hours. He narrates the film as well using dialogue from the journal that he keeps. Through the imagery and symbolism of the taxi itself, the musical backdrop, and the artistic editing, Martin Scorcese’s American psychological thriller captures the filth and futility and filth of a city through the eyes of the very thing that keeps it running, the taxi driver. Bickle complains about the filth of the city and the people who ride in the taxi, the majority of the beginning is allotted to this showing him cleaning out the back and dealing with unruly passengers. The view he has of the city from the taxi is negative and dark, making him hate the surroundings. The vibrant colors, blurred slightly because of a mist and streetlights, represents the city’s stress of appearances and shallowness. Bickle sees a woman walk into a building, Betsy, who is wearing white. He refers to her as an “angel no one can touch”. The connection with the color white is to signify rare purity in a tainted world. Something that he seeks but cannot find. Travis Bickle finally talks to Betsy but when she refuses him after he subjects her to pornographic material, he claims she is “just like the rest”. This is the pivotal point where as a character, his demeanor and tone change. He begins to speak more harshly and vaguely. He devotes himself to fitness and acquiring fire-arms. He becomes acquainted with a very young prostitute, when she tries to escaper her pimp. He genuinely wants her to get out of there, showing moral conscience...
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