In American Cinema/American Culture, John Belton argues that “films such as Taxi Driver expose the contradictions that informed 1970s America, describing the conditions that produced phenomena such as the Vietnam war and Watergate, but refusing to understand or make sense of those conditions” (377).
This week, write at least 3 paragraphs (250-500 words) analyzing Vertigo, addressing PLOT, FORM, and CULTURE.
PLOT: The classic Hollywood plot opens with an equilibrium, then there is disruption of that equilibrium, and at the end of the film there is a new equilibrium. Identify the equilibrium/disruption/new equilibrium in Taxi Driver.
FORM: Discuss the technical and artistic achievements of Taxi Driver in one or two key scenes. Good candidates might be the scene where Travis Bickle talks to himself in the mirror or the murder scene at the end — or your favorite scene. But choose one or two scenes and go into depth about how the shot composition, shot type, camera movement, editing, lighting and other technical aspects create the mood or express the emotion of the scene. Refer back to chapter 3 in the textbook and the videos from the first module for a refresher.
CULTURE: Discuss how Taxi Driver both reflected and shaped attitudes about authority in the 1970s. Does the film give a realistic view of society at the time, or does it present New York City from Bickle’s point of view? Are we meant to take his voice overs as true? What does the existence of a character like Bickle say about the United States at that time? What role do gender and race play in Taxi Driver?
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