I am very glad that I have the opportunity to take Cinema as part of my block program. I find the class very interesting, as we are learning new terms and ways of analyzing different categories of films. I enjoy watching movies and the class helps me to change the way I interpret the meaning of the content and the form.
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The first movie that was shown to us is, "Taxi Driver", directed by Martin Scorsese. The genre of this film lies between a thriller and a drama. Robert DeNiro plays the lonely character, Travis Bickle, an emotionally unstable former Vietnam War veteran. As an insomniac, he works nights as a taxi driver. Throughout the film, we see that Travis is isolated from the world as he examines the streets of New York City, as a corrupt place filled with garbage. Travis tries to connect with Betsy, a young woman working for a presidential candidate. Travis decides to take her to see a porno movie, in which Betsy walks out of the movie theater in disgust. This shows that it is hard for Travis to connect with a human being. Travis becomes enraged with anger after Betsey refuses to return any of his phone calls. He retreats into his war-mode when resorting to violence in order to rid the city of its garbage. Travis decides to focus his attention on a twelve-year old prostitute named Iris. He wants to help her flee her pimp, and all the other dangers around her. After extensive training, Travis pretends to visit Iris in the brothel, and murders everyone, including Sport. Although Travis thinks he is helping Iris, she did not want him to do what he had done because she is content with her lifestyle. At the end of the movie, Travis is considered a hero in the media and he receives a thank-you note from Iris parents. Betsy even returns to Travis to talk about his heroic deed, although Travis seems to have moved on with his life.
Throughout the movie, Taxi Driver, cinematography techniques played a key role in the form of the movie. During the taxi scenes, Scorsese used cinematic mise en scene, displaying Travis eyes, in extreme close-up shots. This focused on the mysteriousness and darkness that surrounded Travis rearview mirror and his eyes. Hair and make- up also had a big impact on the movie. After Betsy turned down Travis, his physical war-mode transformation, which included his jacket and Mohawk hairstyle, showed that Travis was a changed person. An additional technique was the shooting scene, which was also very important. It had low-key lighting, giving the building a hazy feeling. After the crime was committed, a high-angle shot was panned over the city, portraying the huge effect it had among bystanders.
Overall, the movie seemed very confusing to me until I had gone over the events in my mind. Travis character was very complex and it was difficult to understand his actions. I sympathize with Travis as he tried to connect with Betsy and more so when he seemed to lose it all at the end of the movie. I was not sure how to interpret the ending. It seemed as if the ending represents what could have because I thought he died after the shooting. It seems that Travis did survive and the movie’s ending returns to a calm atmosphere once again just like its opening. All together, I thought the movie was enjoyable.
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