Taxi Driver scene – Deconstructed

It is important, as you are learning, to examine works of already successful people and start to deconstruct their work to figure out why they may have made the choices they did. In this case I examined a short scene from Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver. I had never seen the film before which made it interesting having no knowledge of what comes before or after the scene. Like in most jobs there are a lot of different factors that can go into your decision making. For film it is important to focus on production design, camera work, and the shots.


In terms of production design I think that it was pretty spot on. Being part of a campaign office in real life you would have a lot of people constantly busy answering phones, organizing papers, and attending to the people coming into the office. As the scene progresses you are able to see all of that throughout the set. (See image above) It is these little things that add a lot of depth to a scene.  Productions design is a really simple way for the audience to gain incite into the characters without needing any dialogue. Through the design of this scene you are able to get a feel of Betsy’s everyday life.

The camera work that Scorsese does within this scene is actually quite simplistic. He mostly just uses zooms, pans, and still shots in conjunction with the use of close up, mid and full shots of the characters. His use of the zoom in this scene adds to the anticipation of their conversation. At the beginning of the conversation, the shots are tighter still shots of Travis and Betsy but as the scene goes on Scorsese introduces an outward zoom. (See images above) The use of this simplistic zoom can also signify the feeling that the character is having. Betsy starts off very hesitant (Close up/closed off) but as they talk she begins to open up more (shot widens/she opens up). The camera zooming out is mimicking this action of her opening up to Travis.

The shots in this scene (See all above images) are really quite good about following the rule of thirds. Scorsese has a great balance between the characters and the surrounding environment. Another great use for his shot set up is to build on characters that may not be in the focus of the shot. In the above 4 images you can see how the framing allows for the character, who was initially seen with betsy, to be a a main part of the scene without being the focus. It establishes his interest in Betsy through showing him in the background watching her in various areas of the scene while pretending to work. All of these elements, and more, go into making this scene work as a whole.


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