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Good, bad is the ugly

When director Martin Scorsese approached composer Bernard Herrman to get him interested in writing the soundtrack for his 1976 film Taxi Driver, the musician said he wasn't interested in creating a score for a movie about a New York cab driver. Indrajit Hazra writes.

hollywood Updated: Jul 23, 2011 14:09 IST

Taxi Driver
Sony Pictures, Rs 250 (special price)
Rating: *****

When director Martin Scorsese approached composer Bernard Herrman to get him interested in writing the soundtrack for his 1976 film Taxi Driver, the musician said he wasn't interested in creating a score for a movie about a New York cab driver. Scorsese left Paul Schrader's powerful script behind telling the musician that it wasn't about a taxi driver but about a man "who happened to be a taxi driver". This classic four Oscars-nominated film (it lost out to Rocky!), described by Scorsese as 'American Gothic', is about Travis Bickle, a Vietnam vet-turned cabbie, seeking to set the world right in the way he sees it fit. That this is arguably Robert de Niro's finest performance comes out in the fact that the city and the man seem to form a team against the people ("the scum") who has made the world into a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Bickle attempt to forge a romantic bond with Betsy, a pretty, liberal New Yorker (Cybill Shepherd), is disastrous and the man retreats into his shell. It is the figure of Iris (played by a 12-year-old Jodie Foster), a child prostitute, who enhances Bickles sense of righteousness that erupts in violence and an ultimate ironic twist about society that surrounds him like bad air.

This reissue of this extremely atmospheric movie comes at an extraordinary half price of Rs 250. In the special interview in the DVD, Scorsese says: "Difference between people who have fantasies and keep them as fantasies and people who try to act out their fantasies. And he's [Bickle] one of them." A modern classic that is bound to make you rethink about who are good people and who are bad.