Released in the year 1976 starring Robert De Niro, directed by Martin Scorsese this film even after 40 years fails to fade out of the conversation related to dark-themed and psychological theme-based films.
What makes this 1 hour 53-minute feature film so special that Robert de Niro is acclaimed for it even after so many years?
Before getting inside the film, the basic idea of the content is to serve as insight at Travis to the audience who have not watched the movie and as a Nostalgic recap for all the people who have watched it. Kindly watch the movie, We are damn sure that you would never get the entire essence of the movie after a single watch.
It took me 2 rounds and some related videos to get the complete and solid idea of the movie. Do come back to this content after you have watched the film and see if our views on the movie are relatable.
So lets dive into the film..
The Theme of the movie
The movie’s starts of with a slow and hazy screen for the title card with the name TAXI DRIVER coming out of smoke which gives a limbo effect. The entire theme of the movie revolves around this effect . The best time suited to watch this film is midnight.
Travis ( Robert De Niro) is Ex Marine cadet who had got honorable discharge from the service on May 1973 get’s a job at a Cab service center.
He does the job on a night shift and roams the city during the day time. All seems pretty normal. The beginning of the movie gives the viewers an indication that Travis is suffering from Insomnia. He attributes to getting this job as a night Cabby because of this problem.
The movie is based in New York City and at a time when capitalist thoughts and views were at a strong surge. Being from a tough disciplined background Travis viewed all these outlaws who used to hang around the city at the end of the day as Junks and who need to be flushed out of the city.
Unravelling the Mindset of Travis:
As the beginning suggests Travis hated the idea of freedom being used in a way such that human dignity is questioned. Why all the people had to be different? Everyone could be the same, Everyone can have the same lifestyle.
Travis is interested in this woman named Betsy. He compels her and achieves her approval of a coffee shop. He praises a lot about her beauty and her eyes.
When he has a conversation with Betsy she says that he is similar to a song which is partly truth, partly fiction, a walking contradiction. Well, Travis is a normal man with normal beliefs and ideas. He wanted to be a person who is responsible and get organized ( organize-zed) in life why would she say so?
Betsy is working as volunteer at Palantine’s party where senator Palantine is the candidate for presidency.
When Betsy gets angry about the fact that Travis has taken her to an adult movie, Travis says that she is like everybody else. At one point in the movie, he says that One should become like everybody else.” contradictions”
Travis takes a liking for Palantine , not for his ideologies and moto , just because Betsy works there.
He starts to give these socialist ideals a heavy thought process and understands that these people are just playing with people’s mindset and using words such as “Inflation”, “Job-scarcity” to gain votes.
No actual action is been taken related to the growth of violence related to racism, poverty, prostitution being carried out in the city.
This kind of rebelling thoughts start to grow in Travis. Further, Travis sees the Black community in the neighborhood as evil because of certain scenarios.
A person losing his wife, women getting harassed where some of the instances where his mind starts to get the hate towards this community.
Further, he feels very lonely and exclaims in his own words “ God’s lonely man” when he sees couples roaming around the city. So does Travis actually feel about the country or he is just another hypocrite trying to hide his inner feelings and trying to slut-shame these women.
He also changes his way of dressing after meeting Palastine in person while driving a cab just to impress Betsy. Connecting all the dots one can conclude that in self-love motivated society Travis feels lonely as an individual and tries to find meaning and purpose in his everyday life. His mind trained in the Marine field to serve the nation makes him think all his insecurities are a danger to the country and justifies them.
He feels all his actions in his day to day life must be of higher purpose rather than just wasting his time. Nothing wrong with this idea right?
But what happened to Travis further was a twist in the tail. His hate towards the Black community, Palantine, and the prostitution center grew many folds.
He made his life’s purpose to flush all out these sectors out the society with his own hands. These thoughts combined with loneliness, purposeless feeling, high skills in armory made him jump into the dark realm of murder.
The rest of the movie involves how he completely transforms into a different person. He feels The society rules don’t apply to him and he can do whatever is right to bring the society to a balance in his own terms. Robert De Niro’s bone-chilling performance combined with Bernard Hermans background music made the experience worth watching.
Many people compare the storyline with Joker(2019) but Here Travis actually feels he is doing good to the society rather than accepting his defects and becoming a dark villain.
The movie ends with Travis killing a team of a prostitution facility and saving Iris a 12-year-old from the place. The girl is returned to her parents. The ending of the movie made Travis a noteworthy hero.. which is pretty much justified according to the scenario of New York at that time. The entire movie occurs between May and July(roughly 2 months). Travis preparing for the kill was just a legendary performance from Robert De Niro. This movie will stay relevant for further decades.