Taxi Driver: The Psychopathic Hero and the Rescue Romance: How Jealousy Drives the Narrative Along (M. Scorsese, USA, 1976)
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Taxi Driver remains one of the most acclaimed films in the history of cinema. One can point to the iconic status of Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, whose masculinity, both then and now, captures for his audiences the narcissistic instabilities of the tough Hollywood hero (Bainbridge and Yates, 2005). The complexity of De Niro’s performance as the troubled anti-hero Travis anticipates more contemporary images of ambiguous masculinities, which are a feature of the other films discussed in this book. The film works as a critique of chivalric noble jealousy, exposing its violent underpinnings through the depiction of Travis’s paranoid desire to save the woman from the evil third party. Taxi Driver was first released in 1976, and reissued in 1996 (for the cinema and on DVD). It remains significant for contemporary discussions about changing debates about masculinity in cinema because it was made at a moment when more traditional images of heroic masculinity were being overtly challenged. As the 1976 press reviews suggest, the success of the film was connected to the specificities of that historical moment in the West, when white patriarchal authority was being undermined by a number of forces associated with feminism, black civil rights and the Vietnam War.
KeywordsMale Rivalry Taxi Driver Emotional Vulnerability Sexual Guilt Sexual Jealousy
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