|Category||Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.66:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1976||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||109:11 minutes||Other Extras||Featurette - Making Taxi Driver
Featurette - Photo Gallery
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery - Advertising Materials
Columbia TriStar Home Video
|Starring||Robert De Niro
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||2.0|
|16x9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 ,
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an ex Marine finding it difficult to cope with his existence, and he seeks out a job as a night-time taxi driver in New York. Obviously not a wise move as the sleazy undertones of New York at night feed his instability. He has a penchant for porn theatres, and sees nothing wrong with taking his potential girlfriend Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to a Swedish sex instructional film (remember that this is the seventies). A brief encounter with a young prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) sets him firmly on a path towards an obsession about cleaning up the dirty sleaze of New York, a philosophy he espouses to a wannabe President Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris). His obsession is manifested in the desire to "free" thirteen year old Iris from the streets and return her to a normal life, achievable only by elimination of her pimp Sport (Harvey Keitel) and a few others, for which the newspapers brand him a hero.
This is a deeply dark story and the resultant film is as powerful today as it would have been in 1976. Robert De Niro was superb as the slightly deranged taxi driver, a role which he prepared himself for by actually getting a New York cab drivers licence and driving a cab (remembering of course that he had just won an Oscar for The Godfather Part II, which would hardly make him an anonymous person). No less brilliant is the fourteen year old Jodie Foster in a very difficult role, as was Harvey Keitel in the limited role of the pimp. Another brilliant directorial job by Martin Scorsese and there is little doubt that you are looking at a masterpiece of a film, especially in view of the fact that this was not exactly a big budget film.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
This is a wildly divergent transfer, ranging from very dark and sinister without much clarity through quite sharp and finally quite bright and clear. The different moods of the film are reflected in the style of the transfer adopted, and it would have been difficult enough to prepare any 23 year old film for DVD, let alone one with these quite divergent, inherent styles. Shadow detail was at times quite poor, whilst at others quite good. The overall style of the transfer is quite gritty, reflecting well the subject matter and no doubt the style that Martin Scorsese wished to convey; I believe the look he was striving for was New York Gothic, and he succeeded pretty well indeed.
The colours range from quite darkly muted through to quite bright, if still a little muted. There are some reasonably bright night-time shots with plenty of neon colouring which are mostly vibrant. Again this variability in the colour is as intended by Martin Scorsese, which I believe includes the oversaturation in the colours that was occasionally noticeable. The resultant colourscape is however pretty reminiscent of New York.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts, whilst film-to-video artefacts were also not a particular problem. There were however significant film artefacts present, although none were especially distracting to the film.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 86:05. The layer change is noticeable although not especially disruptive to the film. Given the length of the film, I do wonder why the film was not mastered entirely on one layer, with the extras on the other.
There are three audio tracks on the DVD: English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. I listened to the default English soundtrack.
The dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand at all times.
There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync with this transfer.
The music score is provided by one of the greats, Bernard Herrmann, probably best known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock. This is a suitably striking score, dissonant at times, that perhaps could have been a little more complementary to the on-screen action. Nonetheless a fine effort, and most unfortunately the last testament of Bernard Herrmann, as I believe that this was the last film score he composed before his death.
This is a fairly raw sounding audio track, but this is exactly what the film requires and probably what Martin Scorsese intended. It is not overly detailed but it provides a quite pleasing soundscape which is completely believable. Obviously there was no use made of the bass channel whatsoever, but this is not missed as the film is predominantly dialogue driven.
A good video transfer.
A decent audio transfer.
A very good extras package, that could have been improved only by the addition of a commentary track if space were available.
© Ian Morris
14th November 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|