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1MST 225STUDY GUIDE FOR TAXI DRIVER(1976)Director: Martin ScorseseWriter: Paul Schrader; DP: Michael Chapman; Score: Bernard Herrmann.Cast: Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybil Sheppard, Albert Brooks.Taxi Driverwon the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976.Martin Scorsese is recognized as the preeminent filmmaker of his generation and serves as yet another example of the film auteur. Scorsese’s career begins in the 1960s when he attended NYU film school. His first movies were short student films made at NYU. His early feature Mean Streets(197 4) marks his true beginning as a professional director, andTaxi Driverwas his “break-out” movie and is widely considered his masterpiece. Learn more about Scorsese and his filmmaking in the supplemental reading on Taxi Driverby Lawrence Friedman. Read a webpage on Scorsese.“God’s Lonely Man”The screenplay for Taxi Driver, written by Paul Schrader (author of “Notes on Film Noir”), is prefaced with the following quote from a story by Thomas Wolfe, titled “God’s Lonely Man”:“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from beinga rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”Travis Bickle is “god’s lonely man.” In voiceover, he says: “Loneliness has followed me everywhere. My whole life. Everywhere. In bars and cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. God’s lonely man.” He imagines he is authorized by god himself to be “the” lonely man; he thinks he is ordained by divine powers to serve as god’s avenging angel. Travis thinks the whole city is an “open sewer,” and whoever is elected president should “clean up the whole mess … Just flush it down the fuckin’ toilet.” As he steers his cab down rain-slicked streets, he thinks: “Thank God for the rain which has helped wash the garbage and trash off the sidewalks.” And: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this [human] scum off the streets.” Travis considers himself the agent of such an apocalypse.The central character, Travis Bickle, is a composite of 1970s post-Vietnam psychopaths and political assassins like Lee Harvey Oswald, Charles Manson, and John Hinckley whotried to kill President Ronald Reagan, as he said at his trial, in order “to get [film star] Jodie Foster’s attention.” Hinckley claimed he saw Taxi Driverfifteen times and that it inspired his attempt on Reagan’s life. Screenwriter Paul Schrader was inspired by Arthur Bremer’s An Assassin’s Diary. Bremer had made an attempt on the life of presidential candidate George Wallace.
2Schrader reports that when he wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver, in the summer of 1972, he was living in his car, separated from his wife, out of work, and very depressed.Schrader says that in was in a “period of real isolation. I was very enamored of guns; I was very suicidal; I was drinking heavily; I was obsessed with pornography in the way a lonely person is, and all those elements are up front in the script.” Furthermore, Schrader