Taxi Driver is one of the greatest films of all time
Debate Rounds (4)
1. It is rated as the 47th best movie of all time on IMDb.com by over 230,000 registered users (1).
2. It is featured in the AFI top 100 best American movies, where it is ranked as the 47th greatest (2).
3. It was nominated for four Oscars. All four were very big and important ones as well (Movie, Actor, Actress in supporting role, Music score) (1).
4. It has a beautiful score by Bernard Herrmann. His last composed song, which resulted in Taxi Driver being dedicated to him
5. Several big names in the film industry have named it as one of their favourite films. Quentin Tarantino one of them (4).
Now, allow me to elaborate as to why it's one of the biggest achievements within the film industry.
At the time Paul Schrader wrote the script of Taxi Driver, he was in a rather low and bad place. He had broken up with his wife, as well as the woman he left his wife for. He had broken with the American Film Institute and was in debt. He slept in his car and ate junk food, as well as watching alot of pornography. He realised he hadn't spoken to anyone in weeks. Eventually, when his stomach began to hurt badly, he went to the hospital and discovered he had an ulcer. He thought of his life as a metaphor of a taxi driver. He was trapped in a little box, just floating around the city, unnoticed and alone. He then wrote the script as self-therapy, to exorcise the evil he felt within himself. This contributes to making the story more real, adding more depth to it (5).
After going into partnership with Scorsese and De Niro, they agreed to work on a low budget, since they all believed in the movie and wanted the finances to be highly focused on making the movie as good as possible, instead of their own paycheck. During the entire project, Schrader and De Niro worked for 35,000 dollars, while Scorsese settled on 65,000 dollars. It was a project very close to the people working on it, and nobody cared if the movie was a flop on the box office as long as they were pleased with it (6).
The movie wasn't the typical mainstream stuff you normally see. It was a huge risk in terms of how it would do on the box office. It's pretty much the perspective of a low life scumbag. Yet, it took off at the box office and was praised by critics and audiences. It has almost made 30,000,000 dollars in USA (1).
Over to the movie itself. I also take it you have seen the movie, so I don't have to give you every single obvious details.
As Quentin Tarantino stated, it is probably one of the greatest first-person character studies ever commited to film (4). It's simply unbelievable how close you get to the main character, as well as how real it feels to be in the perspective of Travis' opinion of right and wrong. Your mind is constantly tested by ethics and morals, and to start with, you understand and sympathize with Travis. Let's not lie, the world can be a very mean and bad place to live. There are times when you feel alone and forgotten, and everything you want is to be heard. There will always be some sort of dilemma surrounding your perspective of the environment around you, which obviously is the biggest problem Travis faces. The confirmation of that you are just another person walking in the streets, lonely and forgotten by society, with no voice of what is happening to your environment, can be very sad. At least until you take the law in your own hands and test the hard challenge many consider socializing to be.
Besides the great storyline and plot, the amount of small, but important details, makes this film what it is considered to be today. There are countless times where a small change of a facial expression can decide the outcome of Travis' mind. It also has a controversial ending where the viewer has to make up his mind as to what actually happens, and wether or not Travis is really healed from his mentally unstable condition. Your morals and ethics are tested as you have to decide if he killed the people in the end out of revenge, anger, redemption of his flaws or the rescuing of Iris. Let me elaborate on that.
After the shootout, he is shown in newspapers, all mentioning him as a hero on a recovery. To his surprise, the woman he once loved, Betsy, is in the back of his cab. He shows signs of happiness when he realizes it's her, quietly sitting there and smiling. They communicate much, even though they barely talk to each other during the trip. It's like they both know what the other one is thinking. They talk, and Travis seems to be a normal guy, having a normal conversation with Betsy. Once they reach the designated point, Betsy steps out of the car. This is when the conclusion of whether or not Travis is healed from his mentally instable past gets interesting. Travis looks in the mirror in his cab and sees his own eyes. They are filled with confusion and fear. Betsy tries to start a conversation with Travis, most likely saying "sorry" or "maybe we should meet again". However, after Travis sees himself in the mirror, he is no longer interested in looking happy in front of her. It's like the evil side of him sees the good side reflected in the mirror, and desperately tries to move away from it. He looks away and writes down the amount of dollars she needs to pay. Betsy then realizes that Travis doesn't want anything to do with her based on the disapproval of his look. She sighs and looks away, and then ask "how much was it?" while still hoping Travis would say something to her. Travis throws away the note stating how much she owes him, looks up and smiles to Betsy who stands there with hope of Travis forgiving her, then says bye and drives into the streets of New York.
Right after he takes off, we hear this buzzing and loud sound as Travis once again looks at the mirror and sees his own eyes. Travis is disturbed by the sound, which is connected to him seeing himself in the mirror. He moves the mirror away from himself as fast as he can, and the annoying and loud sound disappears, and we go back to the relaxing jazz song we were originally hearing. I believe that after saying bye to Betsy, he thinks about her and the more happy times he had during that period. He is distracted by the goodness of life when in reality he wants to be, and most likely is an anti-hero driven by hate. When moving the mirror away from the side of him that he sees and doesn't like, it indicates that he still is a mentally unstable person who wants to go back to his old life filled with hate.
Another factor that indicates that Travis isn't healed from his mental state, is the ending credits of the film, something surprisingly enough people tend to not look at. After leaving Betsy and driving into the streets, we can hear a relaxing, happy and positive jazz song. At the same time as this song is playing, we are now the perspective of Travis' eyes while driving through the streets. When this song is playing, he looks at all the interesting buildings and houses the city has to offer. However, this song eventually stops playing. We are now listening to a dark, scary and horror-like song. The interesting thing that happens now is that we are still in the perspective of Travis' eyes, but as this dark song starts playing, he starts looking at the people in the city. The people he once described as "the scum of earth" is shown as the soundtrack take a drastic turn from good to bad. I think Travis isn't cured, and that he is still a danger to his surroundings and the environment around him.
This is exactly what makes Taxi Driver what it is. So many details in such few seconds. For me it has everything. I look forward to your reply and hope you found my take on the movie interesting.
A good movie would have comedy, romance, horror, drama, action, adventure, etc. But it does not seem like Taxi driver has many of those characteristics. This may be an off-opinion about the movie. I must say it does look good, but its certainly, definitely not the best movie of all times.
'It was nominated for four Oscars' So? Titanic has won 11 oscars, and its not even on the IMDb top 250 movies of all time list! And how come 'The Dark Knight' had more viewers? Especially when its the mainstream type of stuff we see?
Personally, i do think titanic deserves to be named one of the best movies of all time. Story, A+, actors A+, costume design A+, scenery A+, music definitely A+. This might sound a bit shocking, but titanic was a bit funny in some scenes, it had a bit action (not the ones you see today) , it involves romance, it involves that part where you start to cry your eyes out, and the best part, the story was true! (Not the love part) It was really based on a ship sinking in 1912.
My opponent does not seem to have many sources to back up his facts/opinions. I will await my opponents response.
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