"I once had a dream, or a vision, and I imagined that dream to be of importance to other people, so I wrote the manuscript and made the film. But it is not until the moment when my dream meets with your emotions and your minds that my shadows come to life. It is your recognition that brings them to life. It is your indifference that kills them. I hope that you will understand; that you when you leave the cinema will take with you an experience or a sudden thought—or maybe a question. The efforts of my friends and myself have then not been in vain…" — Ingmar Bergman
Director Martin Scorsese claims that the most important shot in the movie is when Bickle is on the phone trying to get another date with Betsy. The camera moves to the side slowly and pans down the long, empty hallway next to Bickle, as if to suggest that the phone conversation is too painful and pathetic to bear. [x]
By the time I got the role in Taxi Driver, I’d already made more stuff than De Niro or Martin Scorsese. I’d been working from the time I was three years old. So even though I was only twelve, I felt like I was the veteran there.
De Niro took me aside before we started filming. He kept picking me up from my hotel and taking me to different diners. The first time he basically didn’t say anything. He would just, like, mumble. The second time he started to run lines with me, which was pretty boring because I already knew the lines. The third time, he ran lines with me again and now I was really bored. The fourth time, he ran lines with me, but then he started going off on these completely different ideas within the scene, talking about crazy things and asking me to follow in terms of improvisation.
So we’d start with the original script and then he’d go off on some tangent and I’d have to follow, and then it was my job to eventually find the space to bring him back to the last three lines of the text we’d already learned.
It was a huge revelation for me, because until that moment I thought being an actor was just acting naturally and saying the lines someone else wrote. Nobody had ever asked me to build a character. The only thing they’d ever done to direct me was to say something like “Say it faster” or “Say it slower.” So it was a whole new feeling for me, because I realized acting was not a dumb job. You know, I thought it was a dumb job. Somebody else writes something and then you repeat it. Like, how dumb is that?
There was this moment, in some diner somewhere, when I realized for the first time that it was me who hadn’t brought enough to the table. And I felt this excitement where you’re all sweaty and you can’t eat and you can’t sleep.
Changed my life. - Jodie Foster on how Robert de Niro taught her how to act.
“With a clear emphasis on style and carrying the philosophical in its dark and gritty movement of visual-audio language, ‘Taxi Driver’ is an undeniable classic and timeless film, one that most certainly places director Martin Scorsese among the unforgettable filmmakers in cinema’s short history. Thus, ‘The Making of Taxi Driver’ is an exceptional documentary on filmmaking. In these 70+ minutes, we are given a unique glimpse into the workings of a film from one of the most creative eras in U.S. cinema.
Beginning with the origins of the project and moving into a behind the scenes overview of the actors, shooting, editing, and more, ‘The Making of Taxi Driver’ offers a detailed look into ‘Taxi Driver.’ The documentary reveals how Martin Scorsese’s approach to filmmaking is meticulous and yet openminded, and fortunately, interviews with Scorsese, writer Paul Schrader, director of photography Michael Chapman, editor Tom Rolf, actors Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, and other collaborators add to the rich examination of the film.
Unseen photos from ‘Taxi Driver’ courtesy of Jordan Krug.
For more, see our archive under the tag, “Taxi Driver.”
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