“Loneliness has followed me my whole life.” – Travis Bickle
America is in a decade of political upheaval and nursing the hangover of Vietnam. New York is a city borne from struggle and diversity, and the humble cab driver has become the forced witness to urban decay.
Taxi Driver was never intended to be an easy ride, or even an experience crafted to raise the spirits, but it excelled at leaving the viewer feeling both disenfranchised and yet oddly sympathetic to those searching for love, in what is often a cold and unforgiving world.
The story is linear by design, but director Martin Scorsese never allows you, the passenger, to look away or disconnect; instead he draws the viewer ever deeper into the darker recesses of ourselves, forcibly demanding that the audience engage both with the ears and eyes.
Rather remarkably, this unflinching character study is now celebrating its fortieth anniversary, and yet Taxi Driver remains a stark reminder that we should never judge a book by its cover, or delude ourselves that we are better than anybody else because social culture and the mainstream media tell us so. All of us are wounded to a greater or lesser extent, and it’s those wounds that require our attention, because without the healing power of love, we run risk of slipping into inky darkness until our hearts simply just give out and die.
For those who feel perturbed by the concept of gritty films such as this, my advice is just to have faith enough to take that cinematic ride, while asking yourself to walk in Travis Bickle’s shoes, and you might be surprised to discover just how much you both have in common.
With regard to the latest medium in which to watch this jolting, acrid film, the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray is undoubtedly where it’s at right now, and fortunately it sells for a reasonable price too.
So, if you want to take a trip into downtown America at a time when Robert De Niro was truly at his peak, remember to tip generously or who knows what might happen?