Every individual in society has a set of values that influences others’ way of thinking. The movie Taxi Driver challenges those values and zooms in on a culturally specific part -the druggies, gangs and prostitutes. The ideological theory can be applied to Taxi Driver to show violence as the ultimate means of “cleaning up” the filth and bad parts of society.
Robert Deniro stars as the protagonist (Travis Bickle) in Taxi Driver. The entire movie is from his viewpoint, displaying everything that goes on in Manhattan once it gets dark out. The twenty six-year-old suffers from chronic insomnia, which is why he wants to drive a taxi. He writes in a journal all of his thoughts and disgust for what is going on around him. Bickle has a fascination with Betsy, a campaign volunteer for presidential nominee Charles Palentine. Bickle courageously asks her out for a date and she accepts, only to walk away after watching part of a dirty porn. Discouraged, Bickle goes back to his routine life until he sees a child prostitute, Iris, (Jodie Foster) and tries to help her out by visiting her. By this time he has bought many guns and gotten in peak physical condition. Bickle tries to assassinate Palentine, in which he fails. He turns to his second target, “Sport,” the pimp in charge of Iris. Bickle shoots him and a few of the bouncers, saving Iris from her life of prostitution. He is hailed as a hero by the media and later wakes up from a coma brought on by a gunshot wound. Betsy admires him one night in the taxi. He gives her the cold shoulder by saying he isn’t a hero. It ends with him driving away.
The ideological theory shows how movies relate to society. Taxi Driver is set in a time period right after the Vietnam War, and it brings some of those societal attitudes into the movie. People did not seem to care about one another, just as many did not care or respect the Vietnam veterans coming home after the war ended. When a store owner gets held up and Bickle shoots him, the owner tells him to go and that he would take care of it. As the scene is about to end, it shows the store owner taking the crow bar and beating the man who held him up.
Ideology communicates a message about a change that needs to happen. In Taxi Driver, Bickle constantly writes about the problems that need solutions in the city around him. He is disgusted with what people do and how they act. Bickle’s feelings are maxed out when he sees Betsy for the first time, and he compares his view of her with the rest of society. “I first saw her at Palantine Campaign headquarters at 63rd and Broadway. She was wearing a white dress. She appeared like an angel. Out of this filthy mess, she is alone. They... cannot... touch... her. (imdb quotes)” Bickle is using ideology here to criticize the established values (casual sex and abuse) with Betsy, who apparently is above all those problems. Bickle thinks she lives in a bubble where the darkness of New York City cannot influence her.
After Betsy rejects Bickle repeatedly, he begins to become depressed and lonely like he was from the start. He starts to become exactly what he hates. Bickle purchases a suitcase full of handguns from a shady salesman. A camera shot shows the gun from Bickle’s perspective; the shot goes right down the barrel out of the window. Bickle moves the gun slowly until it focuses on two people standing out by a fence. He keeps the gun there. This scene shows his insanity and intent to “destroy” the filth in the outside world.
This decision to buy guns is partly influenced from a passenger he carried around in his taxi the previous night. The man discovered his wife was cheating on him with a black man, and he took a .44 magnum to kill them both. He says, “My wife is in there and... I'm gonna kill her. I'm gonna kill her with a .44 Magnum.” Bickle doesn’t say much as the passenger talks to him, he just listens.
As soon as Bickle purchases the guns, he starts...