Taxidriver is a 1976 film of American origin showcasing a vigilante filmwritten by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese. The settingof the film is in the United States of America after the Vietnam Warstarring Robert Niro and featuring Harvey Keitel, Cybil Shepherd,Albert Brooks and Jodie foster. The taxi driver features a disturbingnightmare story that focuses on the alienation of individuals in themodern society. In a historical sense, the film was shot ten yearsafter the end of the Vietnam War, and the embarrassing Watergatescandal as well as the resignation of Richard Nixon. The film hasbeen cited as one of the greatest films in history. It has also beennominated and won a number of international awards such as theAcademy awards, best picture and the 1976 Cannes film festival. TheAmerican film institute ranked the film as the 52ndgreatest film in the United States of America (“Taxidriver (1976),” 2016).
Thetaxi driver film is set in a social context as it touches on aconcept that is more universal, especially on the question of how anindividual finds identity and purpose in a capitalistic society atthe verge of collapse. This has been displayed by the blatantdiscrimination due to a difference in the level of income amongst thepeople in the urban society. Travis is, therefore, a slave to asystem that is corrupt where those at the helm of authority arealways attempting to push him down. Additionally, a class structureis portrayed between the characters where none of them can escape.Travis’ workmate for instance, tells him that if you get a job, youbecome the job yourself. He is poorly educated, lonely, and sociallyinept and he is not in a position to rise above the low class in thesociety. The social context of the film also comes out when Travis isinvolved romantically with Betsy but is unable to have her hand, sherefuses to see him again since he is not well educated and sociallyviable compared to her. She, therefore, belongs to a higher socialclass and she can’t see him again(Snider, n.d.).
Theideology in the film is that of one section of the society beingdominant over the less privileged in the same society. This is thereason that Travis had sought to fight against the oppression and theideologies that reign and left him lonely and broken. He, therefore,assembles a number of heroic characters of America and sets on amission that according to him, is meant to demolish the corruptedevil structures that exist in the society. The film displays Travis,not as an Indian hero, but a western hero who has made it his missionto save the society from bureaucrats that have corrupted the systemand have made life difficult for the less privileged members of thesociety(Snider, n.d.).
Travishas experienced oppression from those individuals more privilegedwith power and wealth and was forced to fight in a war that has beenfuelled ideologically. Travis, according to the film, is governed byleaders who are hungry for power and lives in a dirty city that isnearing its bankruptcy. It is this observation that makes him angryand ends up taking arms to fight the people that have been oppressinghim. He is also motivated by the heroic status of the people in theAmerican myths. He, therefore, represents the average working classin the American society that has been victims of the oppression inthe urban American society. The crime and the criminal justice mythshave also come into focus in the film. This has been motivated by themyths on American heroes such as the Gun Slinger and other historicalcharacters where it was believed that the oppressed would rise up themoment an individual wakes up from the society to fight for thosethat have been oppressed(Cabrita et al., 2015).Travis in this case has therefore been considered the hero whose mainobjective is to save the oppressed from the oppressors.
Therace and gender myths in the film are clear in the difference in raceand gender perception of the social class that these members of thesociety occupy. Travis is considered as a western hero with anobjective of ridding the society of Indian oppressors that have forlong put his society at the edge. The gender myth on the other hand,is well put when Travis is unable to socialize with Betsy due to hersocial difference with him. The belief is that people of the samegender can only be involved romantically only if they belong to thesame class. the setting of the film also shows that commercial sexworkers are viewed as lesser persons in the society and that explainswhy Travis tried his best to have Iris, a Swedish prostitute, to quitprostitution in vain. He even invites her for a sex film whichoffends her and she ends up working home alone. At this point, Travisis clearly disappointed with her and begins berating her in thecampaign office before being kicked out(Cabrita et al., 2015).
Inconclusion, the scenes from the film greatly reveal the socialdisparities that face the society, it also shows the section of thepopulation being dominant over the other due to differences in socialclass. The film evokes the social, psychological contexts as well asthe myths concerning historical aspects of gender as well as racemyths. From the movie, we are able to get rid of these socialdisproportions that may hinder our interaction across socialdivisions.
Cabrita,J., Johnson, A., Menjivar, B., Ashmoore, S., Bondi, G., Thompson, A.,Daniewicz, J. (2015). The film canon: “Taxi driver” (1976). .Retrieved fromhttp://theyoungfolks.com/review/the-film-canon-taxi-driver-1976/57833
Snider,E. D. 13 grimy facts about “taxi driver.” Retrieved November 9,2016, fromhttp://mentalfloss.com/article/67148/13-grimy-facts-about-taxi-driver
Taxidriver (1976). (2016). Retrieved November 9, 2016, fromhttp://www.filmsite.org/taxi.html