Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) is a poignant character study exploring the human condition. Although rather hyperbolized, the existential struggle of the film’s primary character, Travis Bickle, a night-time taxi driver, is relatable to the experiences of any human being; Travis’ physical and mental – emotional – degeneration can be realistically imagined and contextualized by any human being, for the depicted emotions and mental-going-ons are universally appreciated.
“Loneliness has been following me my whole life…in bars, cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere…there’s no escape, I’m God’s lonely man” says Travis Bickle through voice-over. The predominant human experiences depicted in Taxi Driver are that of loneliness, alienation, and misanthropy, all three being experiences any human being can relate to. The character of Travis Bickle is extreme; he’s an exaggeration of the truth in order to magnify and reveal it. While not all human beings will ever experience the depth of Bickle’s loneliness and alienation, and while not all human beings will ever degenerate to a point of violence and misanthropy, any human being who has experienced loneliness, alienation, and violent, misanthropic tendencies to any extent can imagine quite accurately what that would be like.
The universality of Taxi Driver makes it a character study that deeply examines the root of the human condition. It ostensibly seeks to discover answers to questions about human experience; such as, “what makes us tick?” and “where is the edge?” Through viewing Taxi Driver one will, of course, reflect on similar experiences in their own life, and through this reflection, one may discover some profound truth about themselves. For this reason, Taxi Driver deserves it’s appreciation in the film community.