Martin Scorsese’s rugged masterpiece, Taxi Driver, helped not only propel him into the upper stratosphere of Hollywood’s elite, it served as a showcase for the kind of no holds barred storytelling that would define the auteur’s career. It also helped Robert De Niro cement his place as one of the landmark talents of his generation. The low-light tale of an insomniac who’s fed up with the world around him, Taxi Driver is a grim odyssey through a grungy New York long since dead and gone. It cost just $1.3 million to make, but earned $28.3 million at the U.S. box office, not to mention the Palme D’Or at the Cannes film festival. Even today, the film’s raw energy and De Niro’s powerhouse performance remain undiluted. It’s a great film, folks. And here are a few things you may not know about the now 40-year-old film.
1. Meet the Writer
Paul Schrader is the man who wrote the original screenplay for Taxi Driver. He and Scorsese were actually introduced by Brian de Palma. Of course, Schrader and Scorsese enjoyed a good working relationship, ultimately collaborating on four films, including the Oscar-winning Raging Bull (and two commercial flops).
2. Travis Is an “Avenging Angel”
Scorsese’s early films, like Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, were obsessed with religious imagery. Scorsese routinely calls Travis Bickle an “avenging angel” who wants to become as pure a person as possible, to cleanse himself of weakness of every kind. Of course, the fact that path is dark and bloody is just an unintended consequence.
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