Taxi Driver

Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.66:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
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
Storyboard Sequences
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (86:05)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Martin Scorsese

Columbia TriStar Home Video
Starring Robert De Niro
Jodie Foster
Albert Brooks
Harvey Keitel
Leonard Harris
Peter Boyle
Cybill Shepherd
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Bernard Herrmann

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 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Another of the great movies of all time makes its appearance on DVD in Region 4. This time it is the darkly violent masterpiece Taxi Driver, currently enjoying a ranking of 34 in the Internet Movie Database Top 250. Despite the classic nature of the film, it is in fact the first time that I have ever seen the film, and to say I am impressed is somewhat of an understatement.

    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.

Transfer Quality


    Okay, the transfer is a little problematic but it is twenty three years old and Martin Scorsese had certain aims in the way the film was shot, which do not necessarily translate to a great transfer.

    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.


    The temptation to have a full blown 5.1 remastered soundtrack has been resisted and we have a 2.0 soundtrack that suits the film very well indeed.

    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.


    Actually a pretty inspiring collection of extras, as befits a film of this stature.


    Not especially well themed to the film, and lacking any enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer

    The trailer comes with a choice of German, Dutch and French subtitles, and is quite dark.

Featurette - Making of Taxi Driver

    A seventy minute retrospective look at the making of the film with interviews with most of the main cast and crew. This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It too comes with a choice of German, Dutch and French subtitles. This is a very interesting documentary and well worth checking out, with lots of insights into the making of the film and the attention to detail that was attempted; Robert De Niro's cab driving exploits were not the only such efforts.

Featurette - Photo Gallery

    Now this is more like it! Not just a collection of unannotated photographs here. This is accompanied by an eight minute commentary provided by one of the crew responsible for the Special Edition. The commentary comes in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This is the sort of imaginative use of the photo gallery that I have been wanting to see for quite a while, and adds another dimension of anecdotes about the film.

Storyboard Sequence

    This is a sequence of stills of various storyboards for the film, followed by the relevant stills from the film to illustrate the original concept and its final rendering in the film. Short and possibly of limited value, but another nice little concept that could be developed a lot further.


    Something else that I have never seen, and a quite novel extension of how a film is made. Pages from the original screenplay can be selected, which takes you from the written pages to the relevant sections of the film to see how it looks in action. Whilst the concept still needs some work, this is another worthwhile addition to the package.

Gallery - Advertising Materials

    An unannotated collection of photos and promotional posters for the film.

Filmographies - Cast and Crew

R4 vs R1

    Previously released in a plain-jane Region 1 version that is now out of print, this appears to be identical to the Region 1 Special Edition released earlier this year. There is no overwhelming reason to prefer one version over the other, although Region 4 has the inherent improvement of the PAL system.


    Come on now, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese? Undoubtedly a classic film and given the treatment it deserves by Columbia TriStar, this is a worthwhile addition to any collection, even allowing for the inherent problems in the transfer: these are in any case not a DVD problem in my view.

    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.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
14th November 1999

Review Equipment
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