‘Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads, here is a man who would not take it any more…’ Re-released at a time when the grievances of white men are once more setting the world agenda, Martin Scorsese’s unflinching plunge into the darkest recesses of the human soul feels painfully relevant. In anti-hero Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) we see traits of what would become the archetypal online troll – he’s bitter, reactionary and self-involved, describing himself as ‘God’s lonely man’.
But still, Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader never treat him with anything less than the utmost empathy. This is a man scarred by war, perplexed by the permissive society and desperate to leave his mark on a world that barely acknowledges his existence. Travis may wear his isolation proudly, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear.
Forty years on, ‘Taxi Driver’ remains almost impossibly perfect: it’s hard to think of another film that creates and sustains such a unique, evocative tone, of dread blended with pity, loathing, savage humour and a scuzzy edge of New York cool. Bernard Herrmann’s score sounds like the city breathing, ominous and clammy, while De Niro’s performance is a masterclass in restraint and honesty. Back on the big screen, this is still one of the pinnacles of cinema.