Monday, March 26, 2007

Breakdown - Taxi Driver

1. 0:33 – The titles start on black, but the story doesn't start until the taxi appears from the smoke and drives past to reveal the title, so my clock starts when the taxi appears. The rest of the titles are shown over the smoky street with the ominous music of Bernard Hermann (Hitchcock's composer) on the soundtrack. The first shot of the taxi makes it look like some modern-day dragon coming out of its lair. 0:00:33

2. 0:21 – The screen fills with Travis's eyes as he watches the road. The lights of the city play over his face. Titles continue. 0:00:54

3. 0:27 – Fade to the lights of the city through the windshield. They blur, as if the watcher is tired. We hear a little of Betsy's theme, but the music turns ominous again, signaling another fade. 0:01:21

4. 0:18 – People walk back and forth in front of the cab while we learn that Martin Scorsese directed this and we fade to Travis's eyes, watching. 0:01:39

5. 2:33 – Travis applies for the job. He can work "anytime, anywhere." He also says he got an honorable discharge from the Marines. As he leaves, the camera pans away from Travis and around the garage, then comes back to Travis. Michael Chapman, the cinematographer, said that Scorsese asked for shots like this and freaked him out. He was used to following the main character. 0:04:12

6. 0:22 – Travis leaves the garage and walks down the street toward the camera. There's a fade to a shot of Travis still walking, but closer to the camera, as he swigs from a bottle. I wonder if they had the camera rolling the entire time Robert DeNiro walked down the street, or if they stopped it and started it back up at the appropriate time. Film stock is expensive, but Marty might have wanted the coverage just in case he wanted the whole shot later in editing. The really important part of this scene is that he drinks from the bottle in the paper bag, but the image also tells us that he's used to being alone. 0:04:34

7. 0:38 – A slow pan around Travis's apartment shows us how he lives. The paint is cracked and peeling, there is a hot plate instead of a stove, and hooks on the walls instead of closets. Travis writes in his diary (in pencil) that he's working long hours (so he got the job) and he's glad the rain washed all the trash off the sidewalk. 0:05:12

8. 1:34 – Travis's voice over continues as he drives the taxi and we find out that by trash he means people. He says, "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets." He picks up a man and a whore and alternates his attention between the two of them and the road. The man is hot to fuck the whore and can't wait to get where they're going. Travis watches. 0:06:46

9. 0:54 – Travis returns the cab and pops a pill. So he drinks and takes pills. His voice over (in his diary) explains how every night he has to clean blood and cum off his back seat every night when he's done with his shift. 0:07:40

10. 1:32 – This scene establishes that Travis isn't so good with girls. It starts outside with the famous shot of him walking toward the camera with his head down and continues as he goes into a porno theater. Inside, at the concession stand, he tries to get a date with the clerk (played by his real life wife at the time, Diahnne Abbott), who threatens to call the manager. He buys a bunch of candy and goes inside to watch the movie. This teaches us the lesson never to try to pick up women at a porno theater. 0:09:12

11. 0:27 – Inside the theater, Travis watches the movie and we learn (through voice over) that he watches porn because he can't sleep. 0:09:39

12. 0:13 – Voice over continues with an overhead shot of Travis lying on his narrow bed with the sagging mattress. He believes a person should become a person like other people. Then we see a clue that he might be heading in the wrong direction. His nightstand is covered with about 50 bottles of pills and vitamins. 0:09:52

13. 0:28 – Hauge's "opportunity" is timed to occur 10% into the script and Blake Snyder's "catalyst" happens on about page 12 of a hundred page script. The appearance of Betsy in this scene exactly fulfills either of these elements and at almost exactly the right time. She appears out of the smoke and filth like an angel: wearing white and in slo-mo. Travis writes about seeing her for the first time. 0:10:20

14. 0:05 – Fade from Betsy to the words on the page of his diary as we hear them. Travis writes and eats chips. 0:10:25

15. 1:46 – Now we get to see Betsy in her surroundings. Her work buddy, Tom (Albert Brooks) argues with the man on the other end of the phone about the new shipment of campaign buttons. This is a funny moment and maybe doesn't add to the story, but I'm glad Marty decided to leave it in. After the phone call Tom tells Betsy their job is to sell Senator Charles Palantine like mouthwash. She tells him there's a taxi driver outside who's been staring at them. 0:12:11

16. 0:36 – On Travis in the taxi as he drinks a coke and stares at Betsy. Back to Betsy and Tom, who volunteers to tell the taxi driver to move. 0:12:47

17. 0:18 – Travis is sitting in traffic, letting it carry his taxi past the campaign office. Tom comes out calling to Travis to move the cab and, before he can finish asking, Travis has taken off. Tom shrinks down in his rear view mirror as he drives away. This further establishes that Travis has trouble relating to women. 0:13:05

18. 1:34 – Now here's a scene I can't figure. It's one of the longer scenes in the movie. Travis picks up a woman and drives her to the Hotel Olcott, then watches the city pass his taxi. The traffic lights all blend together and the fare ticks over. This scene might have been filmed and left in to establish the monotony of driving a taxi, or it might have been to make us wonder what's going to happen with Betsy. I think that we're supposed to be in Travis's mind right now. We're wondering about Betsy, but watching traffic lights. 0:14:39

19. 3:19 – Now we get to meet Travis's work buddies, including the Wizard (the late, great Peter Boyle). We start on them in the all-night coffee shop where they hang out as they debate whether it's called rouge or blush-on. Travis walks in and one guy says to ask Travis, because he's a ladies man. Everybody has a nick-name: Wizard, Doughboy, and Charlie T. They have nick-named Travis "Killer." They talk about the black whores in there with their pimps and call them Mau-Maus. Doughboy tells Travis he shouldn't go all over like he does. It's dangerous and if he's going to do that, he should have a piece (a gun). Travis stares into his Alka Seltzer – a shot that lasts a little too long to be comfortable. Marty spent a lot of time in this film stretching out shots like this to make our minds wander. Travis's mind wanders into his Alka Seltzer, and then comes back to listen to Doughboy show off his piece of Errol Flynn's bathtub. 0:17:58

20. 1:37 – This scene isn't about Travis at all. It starts when Betsy pretends to spill a cup of coffee on Tom, but it's really torn up paper. Then she tells him to pretend he has only two fingers and asks him to light a match. When he can't, she says the guy at the newsstand can do it. Tom asks if the guy is Italian, but he's black. Tom tells her the mob blows off a thief's fingers when he fucks up. This is a wonderful bit of foreshadowing. We think Tom and Betsy are only bantering and it might be the same kind of thing as staring to the Alka Seltzer, but it's about blowing people's fingers off, which will happen later. 0:19:35

21. 3:21 – Just as the appearance of Betsy is a classic example of the life change that occurs mid-First Act, this scene is very clearly the beginning of the Second Act. The turn to the Second Act is supposed to occur on the action of the protagonist. Travis marches into the campaign office and right up to Betsy. He starts out pretending that he wants to volunteer, and then asks her out for pie and coffee. She's intrigued. This is the taxi driver who was watching them – her. She agrees to go out with him to find out what he's all about. 0:22:56

22. 3:53 – Travis writes in his diary the details of his first date with Betsy, including the exact date and time. He tells us he had pie with a slice of melted yellow cheese, which he feels was a good choice. While they eat, he tells Betsy he feels a connection between them, but he feels there is no connection between her and Tom. Even when I was seventeen, the first time I saw this movie, this line creeped me out. Travis was so obviously disconnected and trying so hard to establish an emotional connection that he wasn't paying attention to Betsy the person. He only saw the smooth, perfect surface. And I have to give Betsy credit. She has so much self-confidence that she allows him to take the relationship further and agrees to see a movie with him. She tells Travis that he reminds her of that Kris Kristofferson song. He's a walking contradiction. 0:26:49

23. 0:26 – So he buys the album. 0:27:15

24. 0:25 – Travis tells his diary that he called Betsy twice about the movie, but forgot to ask her last name. He's got to remember stuff like that. He seems to be referring to his diary entry in scene #12. He wants to be normal, but can't remember how. 0:27:40

25. 2:37 – Senator Palantine, who is connected in Travis's mind to Betsy, gets into Travis's taxi. Travis recognizes him and talks to him. Palantine asks Travis what he thinks is the biggest problem and Travis goes into a tirade about how filthy the city is. They should clean it up. It smells so bad it gives him a headache. They should flush it down the fucking toilet, excuse his language. This scene also creeps me out, so good job Bobby DeNiro on getting to that place. 0:30:17

26. 1:05 – While Travis waits at a light, Iris (Jodie Foster) gets into his cab and begs him to take her away. She's panicked, but Travis is so shocked by her appearance that he freezes. Sport (Harvey Keitel) opens the door and drags her out. He tells her, "Bitch, be cool," and snags a crumpled $20 bill out of his pocket that he tosses on the front seat next to the cash box. Travis stares at it. He's still in shock. Sport drags Iris down the street and tries to pretend that they are walking arm in arm. She keeps trying to get away and every time he drags her back. Travis just watches. 0:31:22

27. 0:40 – Travis drives through Harlem and some punks throw eggs and rocks and bottles at the cab. 0:32:02

28. 0:37 – Travis returns the cab and looks at the $20 bill, which is still in the same place on the seat. He stuffs it into his shirt pocket. 0:32:39

29. 0:35 – Travis picks Betsy up for their date and gives her a present that turns out to be the Kris Kristofferson album. 0:33:14

30. 0:50 – They walk past the street drummer with grease in his hair who plays the same riff over and over. Betsy wants Travis to listen to the album, but he says his record player is broken and suggests that he can listen to it on her stereo. 0:34:04

31. 1:17 – Travis takes Betsy to the triple-X theater. She knows it's a "dirty movie," but goes in anyway. Once inside, we watch her finally acknowledge that Travis is not a good relationship opportunity. She runs out. 0:35:21

32. 1:06 – Outside the theater, Betsy tells Travis that was about as exciting as saying, "Let's fuck." Travis says he doesn't know much about movies, but he can take her to another one. She calls a cab and gives him back the record. He presses it on her and we find out what we suspected all along. She already has it. 0:36:27

33. 1:37 – Travis calls Betsy and gets shut down. He thinks she had the flu and it made her act funny, so he sent her flowers. He either doesn't want to admit that she's out of his life, but he doesn't understand how people work. 0:38:04

34. 0:26 – Slow pan of the rotting flowers in his apartment while he writes about them. The smell of them is making him sicker. He thinks he has stomach cancer, but you're only as healthy as you feel. 0:38:30

35. 1:01 – Travis barges into the campaign office to see Betsy and Tom runs him off. As Tom pushes him out the door, Travis tells Betsy she's just like the others and she's going to die in hell. He tells his diary that women are cold and distant. They're like a union. Tom calls to a cop and asks him to follow Travis. 0:39:31

36. 4:02 – Apparently the guy who was supposed to play the psychotic husband didn't show up when he was supposed to, so Marty took the role. I don't think anybody else could have played it with such intensity. He tells Travis to take him to an apartment, but tells him not to turn off the meter. He wants to sit in the cab and watch the apartment. He keeps up a running commentary from the back about how that's his wife up in the apartment, but it's not his apartment. She's up there fucking a nigger and he's going to kill her with a .44 magnum. He asks Travis if he's ever seen what a .44 magnum will do to a woman's face, then asks if he's ever seen what a .44 magnum will do to a woman's pussy. He giggles and asks again. Travis watches in the rear view mirror in horror as the guy sits in the back and talks about shooting his wife with a .44 magnum. 0:43:33

37. 1:59 – Travis meets the guys at the all-night diner and listens to them discuss midgets and fags and how they have to pay each other alimony in California. One guy asks for the $5 that Travis owes him and Travis pulls his money out of his pocket. The crumpled $20 bill that Sport tossed at him comes out and Travis stares at it. The other guy calls Travis "Killer" and makes a finger gun at him. Travis tells Wizard he wants to talk to him. 0:45:32

38. 3:42 – Outside, Travis tells Wizard he really wants to do something. He has some bad ideas in his head. They don't look at each much and Travis doesn't look at Wizard at all. Wizard pulls some words out of his ass and they both pretend they mean something. He says, "We live, we die. We're all fucked. A man takes a job and that becomes who he is. Get laid. Get drunk." Wizard doesn't understand what's wrong with Travis and Travis doesn't really understand either. 0:49:14

39. 1:04 – Travis watches an interview with Palantine on TV while he eats a snack of white break, whiskey, milk, and sugar in a bowl. Palantine is optimistic about his campaign. 0:50:18

40. 0:31 – Travis drives past the campaign headquarters where a sign in the window says, "4 days to Palantine." 0:50:49

41. 1:51 – Travis drops off a fair and nearly hits Iris and her friend (played by a real child prostitute that Marty found on the streets). He follows them down the block and drives off when they approach some men for sex. 0:52:40

42. 0:37 – He writes in his diary that Loneliness follows him. He is God's lonely man. His life has taken a turn again. 0:53:17

43. 0:27 – Travis meets Doughboy, who has Easy Andy in his cab. Easy Andy is a traveling salesman. 0:53:44

44. 3:36 – This is a scary scene and also kind of funny. Easy Andy opens two cases of guns and takes Travis through the various models and their features. Remembering the psychotic husband (who could forget him?), Travis asks about the .44 Magnum. Andy says it's a cannon and shows him a smaller gun, the .38 snubnose with the pearl handle. The magnum goes down on the black velvet display cloth. Travis aims out the window. Down goes the .38 next to the Magnum. Andy asks if Travis wants an automatic and shows him a Colt .25 and a .380 Walther. Travis tries the Walther in his waistband, behind his back. Andy gives him a leather holster he had hand-made in Mexico. Travis buys all the guns. As Andy packs up he tells Travis he can get him anything he wants: grass, hash, coke, crystal meth. Whatever he wants. A brand new Cadillac with the pink slip. Andy is really Easy. 0:57:20

45. 0:32 – Travis writes that he has to get in shape and give up the pills and the junk food. He does push-ups and holds his wrist over a gas flame. 0:57:52

46. 0:15 – Travis practices with his guns at the shooting range. 0:58:07

47. 0:25 – In a porno theater, he aims his finger at the screen. 0:58:32

48. 2:07 – In a montage, Travis practices in front of a mirror with his guns (no, it's not THAT scene), makes a slide out of his kitchen drawer so he can keep his .38 up his sleeve, practices getting his knife out, and cuts a cross on top of a bullet. 1:00:39

49. 4:36 – Travis has cut his hair. He goes to the Palantine political rally and sidles up next to a Secret Service security guard. He makes a big production out of making it look nonchalant, but falls far short of pulling it off. He says he saw some suspicious people, but now he can't find them. So he tells the guy he wants to be in the Secret Service. Then he asks what kinds of guns they carry and the guys pulls out a notepad. Give me your name and address, he says. Travis is no fool. He gives a fake name and address, but accidentally gives a 6-digit zip code. When the guy calls him on it, he says he was thinking of his phone number. As he leaves, the Secret Service guy motions to another guy to take his picture, but the photographer misses. He should have had a digital camera. 1:05:15

50. 1:26 – This is the famous scene. Are you talking to me? Who the fuck do you think you're talking to? In The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, as Fearless Leader, Bobby DeNiro spoofed this scene for a few seconds. It was the only good thing about the movie. I have no other comments. This scene speaks for itself. 1:06:41

51. 0:34 – Fade to 180 degrees from the previous shot and it's a different perspective. This is the scene where he turns toward the camera and thinks (V.O.), "Listen you fuckers, you screw-heads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore." He starts to turn and there's a cut back to the beginning, so he repeats, "Listen you fuckers, you screw-heads," and then continues. This is another trick Marty used to throw off our equilibrium and put us into Travis's world. Then he cuts back to the original FAMOUS shot and Travis tells the mirror, "You're dead." 1:07:15

52. 2:02 – Travis stops at the convenience store to pick up a few things and witnesses a robbery. He hesitates at first, but then pulls out one of his guns and points it at the robber. When the guy spins, Travis shoots him. He tells the proprietor he doesn't have a permit for his gun, so the proprietor takes both and tells Travis he'll square it with the cops. As Travis leaves, the proprietor beats the robber's dead body and curses at him. Can you really blame Travis for going berserk? 1:09:17

53. 1:37 – Travis watches American Bandstand and caresses his .44 Magnum. The song is Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne and the couples seem to melt into each other's arms. One cameraman has decided to focus on a pair of platform sandals somebody left on the floor. Travis frowns at the TV. Is he curious, mystified, angry, or all three? 1:10:54

54. 1:43 – Travis sits in his cab and watches another Palantine rally. In V.O. we hear his card to his parents (so they're alive!). He tells them he knows that July is the month that brings their anniversary, mother's birthday, and Father's day. He's confused about Father's day. Could he also be confused about the other events? He tells them he can't send his address because of his secret work for the government. A cop sends him on his way. 1:12:37

55. 0:23 – Fade to the card as he finishes writing. It says Happy Anniversary to a couple of good scouts. 1:13:00

56. 1:17 – Travis kills his TV. This is also a famous scene. He's playing with his .44 Magnum again and watching a horrible soap opera, but instead of changing channels, he kills the TV. He pushes it back with his foot, pulls it forward, pushes it back, and loses control. Down it goes. He has a quiet moment about it. He puts his head in his hands and says, "Damn." Fade to close on his head in his hands. "Goddamn." 1:14:17

57. 3:56 – Travis goes to see Iris and has to pay for her time. Sport asks him at least three times if he's a cop and says it's because he looks like a cowboy. He seems friendly, but makes fun of Travis, who doesn't play back. After they make the deal, Sport pretends to shoot Travis with his finger. Then he checks for guns and says he doesn't look hip. 1:18:13

58. 0:37 – Finger-man (in the credits he's listed as Iris's timekeeper, but I call him Finger-man) tells Travis the room is $10. Travis pays and follows Iris. 1:18:50

59. 4:50 – I had a hard time doing this scene, because the DVD had a bad spot in the middle. Iris walks through the beads in the doorway, then turns to motion Travis inside. He's unsure of how to proceed until she tells him they're going to "make it." Then reminds her of the night she got into his cab. It was shot very carefully. She starts to take off her halter top, but stops with it just off her shoulders. When she unzips his jeans, it's off-camera and all we hear is the sound effect. He throws her back onto her love seat and scares her for a minute. Then she gets her confidence back and says she must have been high that night. Finally they arrange to meet the next day for breakfast. 1:23:40

60. 0:33 – As Travis leaves, Finger-man comes out of the shadows and holds out his hand for money. Travis gives him the crumpled $20 bill that Sport gave him the night Iris tried to escape. 1:24:13

61. 4:38 – Travis and Iris have breakfast. She says he's square and he gets on her case, telling her she's square for selling her little pussy to junkies and killers. She defends Sport and says he doesn't mean any of it. She asks Travis his sign and tells him she and Sport are meant for each other because their zodiac signs are compatible. She changes her sunglasses for another pair and tells him about her parents. She doesn't want to go back there, so he says he'll give her money to go to a commune in Vermont. 1:28:51

62. 0:19 – Travis sits in his cab and watches the building where Iris works. 1:29:10

63. 2:27 – Something Travis said must have got to Iris. She wants to quit. Sport puts on some romantic music and dances with her, stroking her hair and telling what a wonderful woman she is. He says, "I wish every man could know what it's like to be loved by you." He tells her she keeps him together. This is a really creepy scene. On one hand Sport has an extra long pinky nail, painted red. I always heard that coke addicts kept a long pinky nail to use as a spoon, but I never knew anybody who actually had one. 1:31:37

64. 1:35 – Montage of Travis practicing at the shooting range, burning the flowers, polishing his boots (he lights the dark polish on fire), and getting ready to kick ass. He cuts one sleeve off his shirt, tapes his knife to his boot, and writes a letter to Iris. He encloses the money he promised her and tells her, "By the time you get this, I will be dead." He tells his diary, "My whole life has been pointed in one direction." 1:33:12

65. 3:17 – His voice over continues at a Palantine political rally. "There never has been any choice for me." Travis gets out of the cab, but we only see his army jacket, not his face. We see the rest of the rally, then back to Travis as he removes a pill bottle from his jacket and brings the pill to his mouth. Now we see that he's got a Mohawk haircut. He watches Betsy, who is sitting with Tom on the podium. He moves through the crowd and reaches into his jacket, but the Secret Service men have had their eye on him and he doesn't get the chance to use whatever he was reaching for. It could have been his wallet. 1:36:29

66. 0:19 – Back at home, Travis takes off his shirt, pops a pill, and washes it down with beer. He's agitated, shaking his head. He looks really crazy. On the soundtrack, Bernard Hermann tells us we're right to be scared. 1:36:48

67. 0:28 – The man with the bad suit gets money from Sport. It must be for a fix, because Sport is wiping his mouth. And why else would a pimp pay a john? He shows off his gun to Sport, and asks if Iris is up in her room. What choice does Sport have? He's a junkie. He sends bad-suit-man to Iris. 1:37:16

68. 0:13 – Travis drives through the night, ignoring fares and dodging traffic. He's intent, staring. 1:37:29

69. 1:34 – Travis greets Sport and asks about Iris. Sport doesn't remember him and flicks his cigarette off Travis's chest. He tells him, "Get the fuck outta here." Travis says, "Suck on this," and shoots Sport in the stomach. He leaves Sport crying in the doorway and goes to sit on the stoop of Iris's building, but nobody does anything. 1:39:03

70. 2:52 – Travis goes inside and shoots the fingers off of Finger-man with his Magnum. The shot echoes through the building and Iris, who is "making it" with bad-suit-man, spins around in slo-mo. Sport has made it into the building and shoots Travis in the neck. Travis drops his Magnum and goes back to shoot Sport. He shoots him a bunch. He shoots Finger-man, but doesn't kill him. Finger-man follows him upstairs, howling. He distracts Travis, so that he doesn't see bad-suit-man come out. Bad-suit-man shoots Travis. Travis drops his second gun, but still has his last one up his sleeve. He shoots bad-suit-man in the face until his clip runs out and then dry-fires a few times. Finger-man grabs Travis with his good hand. Travis grabs his knife and impales Finger-man's good hand. Iris is terrified. She screams, "Don't shoot him." Travis shoots Finger-man in the head with his own gun. Travis then tries to shoot himself under the chin, but he's out of bullets. He tries another gun, but all the bullets are gone. So he sits down to rest. He's had a hard day. 1:41:55

71. 0:49 – The police edge in guns first. Travis raises his bloody hand and finger-shoots himself in the head, with sound effects. Blood drips off his finger. 1:42:44

72. 2:38 – This is the overhead tracking shot back out of the room, over the cops, and down the hall. Fade to a pan down the stairs. Fade to one gun, then fade to the other, where Travis dropped them. Fade to Sport dead in the doorway. Fade to crane shot of the street filled with onlookers, police, pimps, whores, and paramedics. 1:45:22

73. 1:39 – Slow pan of newspaper articles pinned to the wall of Travis's apartment. Voice over of the letter from Iris's father thanking Travis for returning Iris to them. The articles paint Travis as a hero who broke up an underage prostitution and drug ring. Iris's father apologizes for not seeing Travis, but he was in a coma and they couldn't afford to stay in New York. They are taking steps to see that Iris never has cause to run away again. This line opens a world of possibilities and sounds ominous. She didn't want to go back there. Why? 1:47:01

74. 0:35 – Travis gossips with his boys. His hair is back to normal. Doughboy comes up and greets them all. Travis's nickname is still "Killer," but he seems more at ease with it now. Doughboy says that Travis has a fare. He gets into the cab. 1:47:36

75. 1:39 – Travis glances into the rear view mirror at the fare, but we can't figure out the importance of this scene until Betsy says hello from the back seat. Then we get the gorgeous shot of Cybill Shepherd in the rear view with its edges in soft focus because the focus is on her. Her hair floats on the breeze. It must be October because she mentions that it's seventeen days to the election. She asks about what happened to him. She read the paper. He says it was nothing. "I got over that." In the final shot of the scene, he looks directly into the camera from the rear view mirror. 1:49:15

76. 1:04 – Betsy asks about the fare, but Travis gives her the ride for free. He drives off, through the lights of the city. He looks in the rear view mirror. The last shot of him is something I've never figured out. He does a double take and gets intense, as if he spotted something: maybe more scum. It's a hint that getting shot up and being in a coma might not have "gotten him over it" after all. 1:50:19

There are 76 scenes that average one minute and 27 seconds in length. Thirty-six, or nearly half, are less than a minute long. Only 11 are three or more minutes long.

We argue a lot about voice-over. Voice-over can be intrusive and even annoying when used badly. The technique of voice over in this film is almost textbook perfect. Trottier advises that it should "add something that the visual does not already tell us." Scorsese uses Travis's diary to tell us how the things in Travis's life affect him. We see the scene, we hear him speak, and his words always illuminate something different from what we're seeing. In the café with Betsy, on the first date, his words make us focus on their food. Later we realize he said some pretty disturbing things to her, but Travis thinks the food is important, so that is where our attention goes.

Sometimes we see the final words of the voice-over diary entry as he writes them down. Showing part of the diary is important, because Travis prints in pencil, and seems to have trouble forming his letters. It is another example of how he's cut off from normal life.

Travis has trouble connecting: connecting to other people and connecting to himself. Once he gets the guns, he comforts himself by playing with them while he watches T.V. He especially likes the Magnum, and runs his fingers along the barrel: back and forth. I couldn't help but wonder if Scorsese was trying to tell us that Travis is so disconnected that, for him, this takes the place of masturbation.

Part of the extras on the DVD was a series of interviews with most of the cast: DeNiro, Keitel, Foster, Scorsese, Boyle, and even Cybill Shepherd and Albert Brooks. Jodie Foster said that Bobby DeNiro used to take her out to eat during the preliminary rehearsals. He would pick her up and drive around with her for hours, then go to some restaurant. She said he hardly ever talked, so she just started talking about this and that, or even talking to strangers. She said it gave her such a familiarity with him that when they did their scenes together she was perfectly at ease.

Marty Scorsese is very much an instinctual film-maker. He will talk for hours about the logistics of getting a particular shot or what the weather was like during a certain scene, but he never articulates why he made the choices that he did, or what his film meant. To him the film means what it is. He always has very firm and detailed ideas about what he wants, but doesn't feel it necessary to explain why. As long as things turn out the way he wanted, that's all the explanation you'll ever need.

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