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Taxi Driver by Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips - Essay Example

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Taxi Driver is a 1976 film coproduced by Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips. The film is directed by Martin Scorsese and is set in New York City at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. Travis first comes across as an ordinary, lonely young man in a large and populated city. …
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Download file to see previous pages However, mise-en-scene techniques and slow moving camera shots soon reveal Travis’s point of view, positioning a subjective view of Travis’s world. The film uses camera movement and cinematography together with mise-en-scene at the outset to establish the tensions that build up to the violence. The film opens with the credits in the foreground of a taxi coming out of the steam of a street at night. A montage reveals rain beating against the taxi’s windshield. In the meantime, the yellow taxi is accented by rain and neon lights that bring it into sharp focus. Travis’s eyes can be seen moving from one image outside of the taxi to another as he travels Times Square and 42nd Street. The viewer sees what Travis sees: prostitutes, couples, and pornographic theatres visited by men. The camera alternates from the inside of the Taxi where Travis’s watchful eyes are moving and observing, to outside of the taxi to show the audience what Travis sees. These scenes are juxtaposed against a more tranquil, ordinary and inescapably artificial world. The camera takes the viewers to a campaign headquarters with red and white colours and signs and slogans that appear to be inconsistent with the world that Travis observes from his taxi. Travis sees the world as inherently diseased and is on a mission to root out violence, disease and decadence. He becomes infatuated with Betsy, a campaign worker played by Cybill Shepherd. Point of view via mise-en-scene is displayed through scenes in which Travis’s point of view and his disconnect and social isolation comes across. For example, in an attempt to connect with Betsy, Travis gets it right the first time when he has coffee with her. On his next date with Betsy, he takes her to a seedy, sexual film. Betsy is no doubt offended by this effort at connection. By taking this approach, the viewer is drawn into and observes the distorted mind of Travis at work. Camera movements and mise-en-scene function to highlight Travis’s distorted mind and subjective point of view. For example, the camera picks up views of New York City that demonstrate just how Travis sees the world around him. A camera shot from inside Travis’s taxi picks up drug addicts and prostitutes. This is the world that Travis sees and is distracted by. He does not see beyond these images and forms his opinion of the outside world accordingly. The camera, by showing a view outside the taxi that selects drug addicts and prostitutes takes the viewer into the disturbed mind of Travis. This is world that Travis sees and is fixated on. A world diseased and decaying and in need of cleansing. Mise-en-scene is also used to demonstrate contradictions. The camera depicts a seemingly ordinary man, dressed neatly and appearing to be respectful and naive. Yet, the camera follows and depicts Travis visiting seedy theatres and writing letters to his parents that reveal that Travis would like to live an ordinary life, but is trapped by his perceptions of a diseased world. In his letters to his parents, Travis unrealistically himself as a working man on the verge of marrying a respectable woman (Betsy) when it is well known by the time of writing, that Travis has been rejected by Betsy. Therefore, the underlying message is that there are contradictions between that which occurs in Travis’s mind and the world in which he actually lives. The contradictions are reaching a fever pitch and this is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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