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Taxi Driver
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
Jodie Foster as Iris
Harvey Keitel as Sport
Leonard Harris as Charles Palantine
Peter Boyle as Wizard
Diahnne Abbott as Concession Girl
Frank Adu as Angry Black Man
Gino Ardito as Policeman at Rally
Victor Argo as Melio (as Vic Argo)
Garth Avery as Iris' Friend
Harry Cohn as Cabbie in Bellmore
Copper Cunningham as Hooker in Cab
Brenda Dickson as Soap Opera Woman
Harry Fischler as Dispatcher
Storyline: Travis Bickle is an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day, or thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated into a cesspool. He's a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with mankind. For him, the one bright spot in New York humanity is Betsy, a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palatine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to to make the world a better place in his opinion. One of his priorities is to be the savior for Iris, a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession and under the thumb of her pimp and lover Matthew.
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Scorsese, Schrader, and De Niro combine to deliver a masterpiece
In Taxi Driver Scorsese gives us a deep character study of a lonely man, "God's lonely man" if we're to believe our narrator Travis Bickle (De Niro). Travis is a Vietnam veteran who takes a job as a taxi driver at night in New York because he can't sleep. He cruises around New York looking for a fare and constantly finds himself drawn to the seediest parts of the city, despite his hatred of everything these places stand for and the people who live and make their living there. Right from the start we have an idea of where Travis is going from when his cab emerges from the white smoke of hellfire. Not literally of course but there is plenty of similar imagery throughout from the overhead view of the guns that the dealer lays out on the bed like a priest looking down at the altar to when Travis holds his clenched fist above the gas fire stove. Like all of Scorsese's greatest films Taxi Driver is imbued with ideas of religion and guilt.

There is little plot to this film but that is unimportant, real life has no plot. Taxi Driver is about character and the character of Travis Bickle is so frighteningly real that he is captivating throughout. This is a man who fails to connect with those around him on almost any level, his date with the beautiful, idyllic, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) goes disastrously wrong and there is even a lack of camaraderie between him and his fellow taxi drivers who are the closest thing he has to friends. And yet Scorsese makes him fascinating to watch, of course De Niro is great here and how he manages to get us to empathise with Travis is no small feat.

This is a film that I could watch again and again, and I surely will, it is a classic. The way Scorsese shoots the film, New York has never looked so gritty and Herrmann's accompanying score is fantastic, the only shame being that this was his final work. Films like this just do not get made any more.
Travis Bickle is the definitive Gotham City avenger...
If only bad-ass cartoon characters like Batman and Spawn could muster one-tenth of the psychotic rage Travis Bickle possesses. Bickle's cape is the Vietnam Marine jacket that he wears throughout the film. The way "Bickle" is stenciled on the back it might as well be a giant "S" or the insipid Bat logo that various actors have exhibited though a series of pointless films. The whole film unspools like a dream that a Vietnam grunt could be envisioning while dying in a rice paddy on the other side of the world. (Oh, wait, that was Jacob's Ladder...) Travis is a gratingly rascist and moralistic character and the black pimps and drag queens he regards with such contempt through his cab window could be stand-ins for the Vietcongs he couldn't quite vanquish when he had the chance. His plan to assassinate the Presidential candidate is undertaken with the same ritualistic precision of a military mission. For Bickle the war has not ended and he has simply transposed the conflict onto the streets of New York. His bipolar view of the world--people are either angels like Betsy or "scum sucking scum" like Sport--is eerily prophetic of America's current perception of world events. (You're either with us or you're with the terrorists) When Travis wishes for "a real rain that'll wash the scum off the streets" he sounds chillingly like John Ashcroft or, Dubya, or even Guiliani (who almost accomplished what Travis couldn't) It's sobering to think that an outlook as disturbed and childishly naive as Travis' could morph into the mainstream point of view.

(POSSIBLE SPOILER) Current politics aside, the little coda at the end of the film, when Travis is back at his job, a reluctant hero among his fellow cabbies--albiet with a lingering soreness in his neck --has always mystified me. Could it be that that last ride with Betsy, whom Travis merely glimpses at through the mirror, is in fact his out of body release into death as he sits amidst the bloodbath back in the hotel room? I think Scorsese strongly implies this when De Niro takes one last look at himself in the overhead mirror and suddenly his face disappears from view. Notice the musical sting right when that happens. It's utterly chilling; a depiction of death more unnerving than anything I've ever seen in another film. (Or at least on par with the flash of white leader when a man shoots himself in Mean Streets.) The film is timeless and it reflects meaningfully, like a looking glass, on each era we pass through.

"Are you talking to me?"
This movie is Scorsese's masterpiece; it is a realistic portrayal of one mans reaction to seeing the very extreme nightlife of New York: pushers, psychos, whores, the list goes on. After seeing the movie 4-5 times, I still have to admit, there are some scenes which I don't fully understand, but I can still somewhat appreciate them. Robert DeNiro's acting is superb, as is Cybill Shepherds, and Jodie Fosters. All of them play their respective character convincingly. All of the minor characters are also interesting; most of them are either a psycho, racist or just plain despicable, in some way or another. The transformation that DeNiro's character undertakes, from being a nice, gentle guy, to being a gun-toting self-help psycho, is amazing. It's got some slow scenes, but overall, I recommend this to anyone who likes a psychological drama, or any hardcore DeNiro fan. 8/10.
Perfect movie making
Perfect movie making, that includes a great lead actor, director and scored with perfect music. Some can relate to either the narrative or/and the character development. My father believes the film meant a lot to him in the seventies coming back from a war he didn't want to fight in, so its interesting to see how reverent it is today. The ending confused me.
In my top 5 movies!

When I first saw this I was blown away. This has got to be one of the greatest films ever made. Set in New York City, taxi driver Travis Bickle is obsessed with cleaning the streets of urban scum. At first he has no specific plan, until he meets a young prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster), and her trashy pimp (Harvey Keitel). At that point he gets completely organized and sets out to save this young girl. Some of the best acting I've ever seen. My favorite de niro movie, other favorites are Raging Bull and GoodFellas. A must see. 10/10.
I did not like this movie and I will be happy if I never see it again. The ONLY bright spot was Travis saving the 12 year old prostitute and sending her back home to her parents but I have to say I found the rest of the movie very confusing. For example, for a man who thought the city was full of immorality and degenerates why did he think it was all right to spent his free time in X Rated theaters? And what made him think it was OK to take a girl he just met to a porn film? Also, what possessed him to cut his hair into a mohawk and why did it appear that he was going to kill the nominee for president when he ended up killing Iris's pimp? The only answers I was able to come up with was as a former Marine, he needed to validate himself once he re-entered society. Since the secret service were onto him he went for the next best thing and managed to save a young girl in the process. Thank God all that porn didn't cloud the inappropriateness of a 12 year old turning tricks!
Scorsese's first masterpiece
Taxi Driver is incredible. Every time I watch it I become more and more engrossed with the story and the acting. One of the rare films that grows more enjoyable after every viewing. The film seems to have been done on a small budget but it's perfect for what the script suggests. Robert De Niro in one of his best roles ever earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, one that he should have won. Martin Scorsese did a fine job not only in directing, but also in selecting the perfect cast. Future stars Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel are just two of the many in the amazing supporting cast. Everything in this film is just right, watch it if you haven't already, or even if you have!
Profoundly disturbing but brilliant tale of urban isolation, obsession, and rage
Arguably Martin Scorsese's best film, writer Paul Schrader's best screenplay, and actor Robert De Niro's best performance. De Niro plays unstable Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle who the film follows down his rabbit hole of isolation, obsession, and eventual violent rage. The plot, as it is, has Bickle working nights as a NYC cab driver, becoming infatuated with pretty campaign worker, Cybill Shepherd, but when he sours that relationship due to his weird behavior, he becomes obsessed with saving pre-teen hooker Jodie Foster from her slimy pimp, Harvey Keitel. The plot could easily have become a simple Charles Bronson/grindhouse tale of urban vigilantism, but it's much more than that. Much has been written about "Taxi Driver" in terms of urban decay, isolation, desire, sex, misogyny, and as a critique of the media, all by others more eloquent than me, so I won't even try, but I will say that on a visceral level, the film is a ferociously disturbing piece of filmmaking. The audience is slowly drawn closer and closer to Bickle's madness, in a similar way to "Repulsion" or "Peeping Tom.". The audience almost understands and sympathizes with his where his thinking is coming from and are found rooting for him against the even more despicable of characters during the film's disturbing finale. Scorsese has presented a New York City that truly is a brutal urban nightmare, but at the same time has created surreal hallucinatory vision of NYC that may only be Bickle's perception of reality. Also of note, the film features memorable performances by Victor Argo, Peter Boyle, and Albert Brooks. Additionally, this was the final film scored by Bernard Herrmann and he delivers a memorably unrelenting and oppressive score that ranks among his finest. Overall, "Taxi Driver" is one of the finest pieces of cinema ever committed to celluloid, though due to it's profoundly disturbing nature will likely deny the film wide appeal.
Goodness me, how movies can change over time
Goodness me, how some movies can change over time, in perception, if not in fact.

I'm old enough to remember seeing "Taxi Driver" in the cinema all the way back in 1976 and I've probably seen it two or three times since then, including this evening. It's still a good movie but, in my view, no longer the great and ground- breaking movie that it was back then.

What I liked. Well, I liked De Niro in his first serious appearance in a well funded movie. And Jodie Foster was sensationally good in her first box office movie at the age of 13. The script was well written and the movie impressively directed by Scorsese although special effects were pretty much in their infancy back in '76.

What I didn't like (now anyway). Well, I came to detest that sax "melody" which was repeated ad nauseum all the way through the movie. It got to be like finger- nails on a blackboard to me by half way through. Why in God's name couldn't Scorsese see that all that repetition of something so tuneless would really get on people's nerves after the 8th or the 10th time? Cybil Shepherd was fine but how about Albert Brookes with that stupid 70s hair and, let's be honest here, he was never really an actor was he?

Something else too. I just can't work out how someone/anyone can pre- meditatedly murder three people and walk free from Gaol to continue his life as a cab driver. Was it OK in 1970s New York for a citizen to go about cleaning up the bad guys and the pimps and then be sent on his way because he was doing something noble and necessary. I kind of doubt it, even then.

Taxi Driver is still a fine movie to watch now but, in my view, it no longer rates the 8.3 that I see on IMDb; 7.2 from me. There are other movies from around the same time that have "aged" rather better than this one. See Taxi Driver by all means; it's still a good and well made movie. But, trust me, anyone under 30 is likely to be bored to death and maybe p****d off, as I was, by that infuriating sax.

One of the Greatest Film of All Time
Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver is an overwhelming reality of violence, and remained as one of the darkest picture about the transformation of an innocent being due to the environment that he's in. Opening with a lot of smoke, the taxi looked like it was emerged from hell. Travis Bickle is the one that's driving that taxi, he lives alone in his messy apartment, he's an insomniac, he eats a lot of junk foods and sugar, and the only show he knows to watch is pornography. At nights, during Travis' working hours, we take a look at the saturated color of New York, the dirty streets filled with all kinds of scum in Travis Bickle's deep paranoid eyes. During the day, we see the hope in living at a place like this, until Travis was rejected again by the society that he declares like a union, cold and distant. Travis' downward spiral cannot be stop, each time he is going deeper into violence. Travis' confrontation with violence is beginning to be excessive, hearing the words at the backseat by some mad husband planning to kill his wife with a .44 magnum, and in the streets some mad man shouting "I'll kill her, I'll kill her" only deepens Travis' idea of the bloodbath in the brothel later. He asks some advice from a fellow cab driver, Wizard. But they ended up not understanding each other's point, this is a critical moment for Travis, he seeks for clarity but did not get it, he was saying "I've got some real bad ideas in my head." And that idea will come to life, as he buys his own .44 magnum and different kinds of pistols, he gets his first kill on a small store trying to save it from a robber. Scorsese effectively isolated Travis from the society in each distant shot. Not only that Travis Bickle was influenced by Norman Bates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, but almost the whole film is Hitchcockian, from Scorsese's cameo, the homage on Rear Window in one scene and the frequent over the head shots. But at some point, Scorsese rises up from his master. In the second part of the film, Travis Bickle became John Wayne, trying to save a young prostitute from her pimp, a mirror plot from The Searchers. He acts again like a sane man, but he is slowly being dragged away from the reality. In the bloodbath, violence exploded, released from his captivity, he doesn't know what he is doing, but planned this thing obsessively and now that it happened, it is ironic that he was praised as a hero who rescues a young prostitute. The final scene as he drove Betsy into Manhattan, he seems like that he is back into sanity, but again he gave us a paranoid threatening look at the rear-view mirror, like the one he's been giving through the whole course of the film, and you know it might not be a happy ending after all. Bernard Herrmann's last score was truly a magnificent piece, it colored and shaped the image of Taxi Driver, haunting and unforgettable jazzy score. Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Robert De Niro all in premium shape and at their best in this agonizing dark masterpiece. Taxi Driver is so affecting because this story is all too real, Travis Bickle is not just a character in a movie, he is the character of the society, he is the voice-over of the isolated humanity, victimized by the system of the world.
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