The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1976
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Peter Boyle, Cybill Shepherd
Directed by: Martin Scorese
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Written by: Paul Schrader
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 5, 2011
"On every street in every city, there's a nobody who dreams of being a somebody. He's a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove that he's alive."
Nominated for four 1976 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), Taxi Driver stars Robert de Niro, and chronicles the mental deterioration of a man driven to violence by loneliness and desperation. Powered by an evocative score and featuring stellar performances by Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, and Cybill Shepherd.
At 26, Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle (De Niro) is slipping slowly into isolation and violence on the streets of New York City. Trying to solve his insomnia by driving a yellow cab on the night shift, he grows increasingly disgusted by the people who hang out at night: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets.” His touching attempts to woo Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a Senator's campaign worker, turn sour when he takes her to a porn movie on their first date. He even fails in his attempt to persuade child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) to desert her pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel), and return to her parents and school. Driven to the edge by powerlessness, he buys four handguns and sets out to assassinate the Senator, heading for the infamy of a “lone crazed gunman.”
Here is another example of a cinematic classic that I have never seen in its entirety until now. Wow. This is an incredible film experience that is justly deserving of the accolades bestowed upon it. Scorsese is a visionary filmmaker with a master craftsman’s touch. This film, like its subject, is gritty, raw, disturbing and compelling, all at the same time. It takes us on a journey into the psyche of an individual whose motivations are probably never completely understood (even by himself). Scorsese allows us an up close and personal look that is occasionally unsettling in its graphic depiction. Travis Bickel has become a sort of iconic symbol of the stalking psychopathic type that most envision when they think of those capable of disturbing acts of violence. The taxicab stands as a metaphor for the drifting loner that goes everywhere but gets nowhere. Here is a young man who is clearly disturbed which seems to go unnoticed by those around him. The girl he wants he can’t have and the girl he can have he rightfully doesn’t want. He isn’t without moral conscience but his compass doesn’t exactly face north either. The defining purpose for him is to seek out those he sees as the dominant figures in Betsy and Iris’ lives and eliminate their interference. Travis walks a very fine line on both counts since success can mean very different things and does as evidenced by the outcome. His thoughts are poured out into his journal and offer insights into his troubled thoughts and skewed perspectives which allow a surface level understanding of his torment (“Loneliness has followed me my whole life”).
The superlative Academy Award nominated performance by Robert De Niro carries the film and exemplifies his stalwart devotion to his craft. Michael Chapman’s magnificent cinematography faithfully captures mid 1970’s New York City and is an integral part of the film. The remaining cast, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle are strong in support. I must say that I didn’t find Martin Scorsese’s cameo (in the cab with Travis) to be very impressive. It was overplayed, too long and felt like it should have been a deleted scene since it sort of disrupted the film’s flow. Oh well. It took me thirty five years to finally sit down and watch Taxi Driver and the wait was well worth it. It’s a modern classic that garnered four Academy Award nominations, appears on several of the American Film Institutes top 100 lists and is considered by many to be a cinematic masterpiece. I whole heartedly agree.
This film contains graphic violence, language, and thematic material that would be inappropriate for young viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Taxi Driver comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps.
Taxi Driver recently underwent an extensive 4K digital restoration/re-mastering which was overseen by cinematographer Michael Chapman and Martin Scorsese and the results are superb. The film’s period colors are naturally depicted with vivid textures and pleasing primaries that appear rich without over emphasis. Fleshtones appear lifelike with a mildly warm essence that conveys rosy complexions that don’t appear unnaturally pinkish. Images are noticeably detailed and sharp which draws out plenty of delineation and texture within clothing, physical features, and objects onscreen. Long range visuals are resolved with above average clarity and depth which highlights the film’s superlative cinematography. Contrast is spot on and blacks exhibit excellent dynamic range and pop nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Dark sequences have appreciable dimension and sufficient shadow detail that combine with the video’s higher resolution to enhance depth perception. The video has an undisturbed and visibly grainy texture that occasionally takes on more emphasis but I never found it bothersome. Other than a hand full of shots where innate softening creeps in this 1080p encoding looks amazing.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio mix does a terrific job rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialogue has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. This is a more or less front oriented presentation that makes good use of the entire system to deliver a seamlessly integrated audio experience that is highlighted by the richness and defining clarity of Bernard Hermann’s memorable music score. The surrounds are utilized for atmospheric extension that creates an enveloping presence that appreciably enhances the music while robust dynamic range and low frequency effects combine to provide good solidity and weight to the audio without sounding unnatural. These primarily come in the form of bass content associated with the orchestration and to a lesser degree in support of recorded elements that contain lower bass response. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this audio presentation. It highlights the strengths of the source material without ostentatious display and sounds great.
This single Blu-ray Disc release comes from Sony in a handsome tri-fold hardcover book style keep case that also includes color and black-and-white lobby card reprints.
- Blu-ray Exclusive: Interactive script to screen feature - The script will automatically scroll as the film plays so you can read along and discover the stage direction notes along with differences from the original script to the finished film.
- Original 1986 Commentary with Director Martin Scorsese and Writer Paul Schrader recorded by The Criterion Collection
- Commentary with Professor Robert Kolker
- Commentary with writer Paul Schrader
- (HD) Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver - 17 minute featurette
- (HD) Producing Taxi Driver - 10 minute featurette
- (HD) God‘s lonely man - 21 minute featurette
- (HD) Influence and appreciation: A Martin Scorsese Tribute - 18 minutes
- (HD) Taxi Driver stories - 22 minute documentary featuring real NY City cab drivers
- Making Taxi Driver - 71 minute Documentary
- (HD) Travis‘ New York - 6 minute feature
- (HD) Travis‘ New York locations - Comparative 1975 versus 2006
- (HD) Introduction to storyboards with Martin Scorsese - 4 minutes
- (HD) Storyboard to film comparisons - 8 minutes
- (HD) Galleries - 4 segments
- Movie IQ
- BD-Live enabled
Taxi Driver is a classic piece of American Cinema that defines the conjoining of master filmmaker Martin Scorsese and acting icon Robert De Niro. It comes to Blu-ray on its 35th anniversary and Sony appears to have faithfully preserved the film’s original elements in this wonderfully restored/re-mastered high definition presentation that looks marvelous and sounds terrific. The excellent supplemental offering includes a combination of exclusive and previously released content that provides background on the production from a soup to nuts perspective as told through interviews with the cast and crew. MovieIQ functionality and BD-Live access round out a spectacular Blu-ray Disc catalog offering that gets my highest recommendation.
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