Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle is one of the key figures of American cinema; the passage of his taxi through the grubby, smoky streets of the city – accompanied by the great composer Bernard Herrmann’s final score – are unforgettable. So, too, are his improvised monologues in front of a mirror (“Are you talking to me?”).
Like Robert Altman’s Nashville, made the year before, the film alludes to the political assassinations of the 60s while turning the violence in another direction altogether and, like no film before it, explores the world of teenage prostitution – Jodie Foster as a 12-year-old prostitute and Harvey Keitel as her pimp – with an unblinking eye. The New York depicted here evokes the sordid nightmare of Midnight Cowboy rather than the clashing codes of family, religion and criminality Scorsese had explored in Mean Streets. The film’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or confirmed the director’s status as an American Master.
Presented in association with the Sydney Film Festival and National Film and Sound Archive
27 May - 7 Jun
Taxi Driver is one of the most iconic films of the 1970s. The savage story of a social misfit and Vietnam vet is brilliantly explored in Paul Schrader’s potent screenplay and Scorsese’s powerfully physical direction, with compelling performances from Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel. Towering over all is the performance of Robert De Niro, whose obsession with porn and violence lead to the film’s powerful ironic climax.