Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taxi Driver @ 30+ years

I'd never seen this film. When it came out, I was a child, and I recall that it was seen then as so controversial, I've never really wanted to see it. I remember my parents disavowing it, saying it was lude and awful. But last night, it was on one of the movie channels. I have no idea why they'd be showing a movie in prime time that is more than 30 years old, but they were. So I thought I'd take my chance to watch it and see if it was really as controversial as people thought it was during the 70s.

And as I suspected, it was not. In fact, it was fascinating because it was almost like looking into a time capsule of sorts. The fact that it was thought to be so controversial then said something about the times we lived in then and the times we live in now. Certainly, the subject matter was disturbing - then and now- but I remember people decrying the level of violence in it then. And watching it now, that seems to pale in comparison to what we regularly find in today's films. The presence of a 12-yr old hooker still seems shocking and tragic even now, but the way it was handled in the film was so much milder than I had imagined it. I would guess if someone attempted to remake this film today, it would be much more graphic than it was 30 years ago. I won't suggest that is progress.

It makes one wonder about the evolution of culture -- films are so reflective of it. While people were outraged in the 70s over this movie, today it seems relatively mild in comparison. I don't think that's a good sign. I think it means that culture has de-volved. We've become numb and callous to violent acts, to sad human condition. It takes more and more to get our atteniton and shock us. That's not a good commentary at all.


SandDancer said...

Taxi Driver is a great film. And I know it is wrong because she is a child prostitute, but I love Jodi's clothes in the film - I think it is mainly that hat!

What I think makes this better than most modern films, is that the violence in this is integral to the plot but not just the whole plot, and it makes the audience think a bit.

I'm struggling to watch films at the moment - I've hit a run of being bored by films I've rented. The last thiing I enjoyed was a short film Six Shooter by the same writer/director as In Bruges which you recommended. It was only short but that was enough - dragged out to 80 minutes it wouldn't have worked.

M said...

Agree on her attire -- the style was strangely iconic and unmistakenly attached solely to that film.

It was so like looking into a time capsule -- the cars, streets, scenes in the background....I barely remember that as a child, but it was so strangely familiar to me.

I was also amazed at the Hollywood icons who were in that film -- DeNiro, Foster, Keitel, Cybil Shepherd, Albert Brooks....all still in the biz today. Wow.