Screen Aesthetics- Taxi Driver Essay, Research Paper
The film Taxi Driver includes a range of techniques which fit the categories of realism and expressionism. The film takes it s peculiar over-all feel from the combination of the various techniques used.
Taxi Driver is a film that leans towards expressionism. The director s major concern is with the characters psychological truths, which he conveys using techniques that distort the viewer s perception of the material world. He uses a high degree of manipulation, of reforming reality. often the shots are not realistic, Many of the shots that are used are from angles that we wouldn t get in everyday experiences. There is a section where Travis, the main character, is thinking while driving his taxi. We see him from outside the car looking inwards, with the street lights going past in the background — which creates a lot of background movement, the picture moves quickly and is disorientating, as if reflecting Travis inner turmoil. Shallow focus is also used frequently, faces in a crowd or in a movie cinema are out of focus unless related to the main character s thoughts in some way.
The way that the director uses audio is also non-realistic, when Travis goes off into his own world of contemplation, the camera still shows what s going on around him, but we get a narrative of some of what he is thinking, and atmos sound stops, so what we are seeing becomes rather surreal. The audience s view is narrowed by the camera angle, we see only what the character perceives. In one scene Travis spaces out over his medication; the camera shows only the drink, but we can still hear the conversation going on around him. Music is also used in an expressionistic way, in some scenes the music used creates a mood contrary to the one portrayed by the camera. In one scene Travis is at home sitting on his couch, contemplating what he has seen. The shot is still, Travis is not moving, however the music is rather loud and confronting, reflecting Travis thoughts.
The director also uses techniques of realism in some scenes, particularly the ones set during the daytime. The director uses still wide shots of the crowd with a deep focus, the audience is allowed to decide what to look at, there is only atmos sound and it is obvious that daily life is flowing on around the vantage point of the camera. These shots are where we see Travis going on with things that are normal and fit in with the people around him. These scenes seem to show us what is really important in his life and let the audience connect with an atmosphere they can relate to.
Overall, this film is stylistically flamboyant. The director is concerned with expressing a subjective view of reality. Mostly we connect to the character through our understanding of his thoughts which are expressed in artistic scenes that are not particularly realistic. However, although not used often, the realistic techniques allow the audience to relate to the characters on a level that they can understand. The director uses both realism and expressionism effectively and as a successful contrast that makes this film an interesting and worth while experience.