Taxi Driver, the 1976 American psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese, is widely considered as one of the greatest films of all time.
Critically acclaimed upon its release, Taxi Driver went on to receive four Academy Award nominations which included Best Picture before eventually claiming the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.
The film, depicting the story of a lonely veteran working as a taxi driver played by Robert De Niro, explores the raw subject of mental health as the driver descends into insanity. The taxi driver, Travis Bickle, takes on the job in an attempt to battle his depression and chronic insomnia. What ensues is an infatuation with a campaign volunteer for presidential candidate Charles Palantine and, ultimately, the plot to assassinate the candidate.
“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things,” director Scorsese once said when discussing the film. “They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive,” he continued.
Not only did Scorsese open the doors to the discussion of mental health, but he and De Niro also influenced popular culture in decades to come. The scene in which De Niro says the famous line “You talkin’ to me?”, which was improvised after hearing Bruce Springsteen use the same line during a concert, is still referenced heavily today.
Along with his trusted screenwriter Paul Schrader, Scorsese pushed the boundaries of how films could be made in the ’70s and no stone was left unturned. Take, for example, the bloodbath crescendo as the film’s finale: “For instance, the tracking shot over the murder scene at the end, which was shot in a real apartment building: We had to go through the ceiling to get it,” Scorsese explained.
“It took three months to cut through the ceiling, and 20 minutes to shoot the shot.”
Here, we look behind the scenes of its making with images via the good people of Cinephilia Beyond:
(Images via Cinephilia Beyond)