Blu-Ray Review: Stunning Release For Timeless ‘Taxi Driver’

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CHICAGO – Few films have held up as well as Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” one of the best films of its era that has recently been released in a stunning Blu-ray special edition, the best HD release of the year to date. With fantastic special features, a stunning transfer, and a film that offers something new every time you see it, “Taxi Driver” is the definition of a must-own. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

Watching “Taxi Driver” again, I was struck by how often Scorsese, writer Paul Schrader, and Robert De Niro constantly defy audience expectations. When Travis Bickle (De Niro) goes into the Palantine campaign office to finally speak to his object of obsession (Cybill Shepherd), the audience expectation is that she’ll blow him off, but they end up having coffee together. When Travis finally encounters Iris (Jodie Foster), the expectation that she will want to be rescued by the man who she first met in a moment of fear is not met. And then there’s the end, when one expects the film to become the story of an assassination but it becomes something much different, even before the controversial ending.

Everything about “Taxi Driver” is designed to keep the audience from becoming complacent. There’s the bizarre, jazzy score from Bernard Herrman. The slow dissolve of its protagonist’s mental state. Even the fact that the film comes from a remarkably unreliable narrator who keeps interrupting his own narration and can never truly be trusted creates a sense of unease throughout the whole film. We know something bad is going to happen from the very beginning but we don’t know how or where or to whom. It’s a masterpiece of tension through character and it’s absolutely timeless. People will be watching “Taxi Driver” in ten, fifty, and a hundred years.

Taxi Driver was released on Blu-Ray on April 5th, 2011
Taxi Driver was released on Blu-Ray on April 5th, 2011
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Video

Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Chapman oversaw an extensive 4k digital restoration for this release and it’s a beauty — a film that looks great without looking overly polished. Can you imagine a “Taxi Driver” that scrubbed all the dirt off the picture by over-polishing it for HD? It could have been a disaster. There are actually scenes on this edition of “Taxi Driver” that look darker and grittier than I remembered, but they all look RIGHT. It’s a perfect transfer for a great film that doesn’t disguise the fact that the movie is 35 years old but doesn’t make it look dated either.

“Taxi Driver” is loaded with special features, including several previously available on the Criterion edition along with new features. It is one of the most complete ’70s Blu-rays on the market to date for a film that’s even better than you remember.

Special Features:
o Interactive Script to Screen
o Original 1986 Commentary with Director Martin Scorsese and Writer Paul Schrader recorded by The Criterion Collection
o Commentaries by Writer Paul Schrader and by Professor Robert Kolker
o Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver
o Producing Taxi Driver
o God’s Lonely Man
o Influence and Appreciation
o Taxi Driver Stories
o Making Of Documentary
o Travis’ New York - The changes of New York from 1975 to today
o Travis’ New York Locations - We visit the famous locations in New York City 2006 and compare them to the same locations in 1975
o Storyboard to Film Comparisons with Martin Scorsese Introduction
o Animated Photo Galleries
o MovieIQ Live
o BD Live Enabled

“Taxi Driver” stars Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, and Cybill Shepherd. It was written by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese. It was released on Blu-ray on April 5th, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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