Friday, 17 June 2011

Taxi Driver, dir. Martin Scorsese, wr. Paul Schrader, st. Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd

I keep on banging on about context; when watching a film, the environment in which you watch it is crucial in shaping the way you process it. And context is tied in very closely with nostalgia. Head over to Amazon and read the comments regarding the forthcoming blu-ray releases of the Star Wars sexology. See? People want to remember their versions of the films they love, not the director's. My enduring memory of watching Taxi Driver for the first time is a dodgy VHS recording off the telly. The dirt, specks and cracks in the emulsion of the print gave the film a further layer of sleaze while Bernard Herrmann's expressionist score, all harp glissandos and tumultuous horns, screeched and roared in beautiful distorting mono. So it was with fevered brow and trembling hand that I placed the brand new blu-ray release of Taxi Driver into my PS3. And if ever there was a better advocate for the format, this is surely it; all the dirt, tears, scratches and colour fading is gone. The newly scanned 4K print faithfully reproduces all the gorgeous rain-soaked New York neon in detail I had never seen before and Herrmann's sonorous score has been pristinely re-mastered in spacious 5.1 surround. What's also now so abundantly clear is the depth and realism of the performances; Jodie Foster's unnaturally mature turn as Iris and Robert De Niro, taut and troubled as Travis Bickle, light years away from any Focker-related nonsense. With this release, we can finally stop watching Taxi Driver, and start seeing it.