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Re: Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy

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  • C.P. Czarnecki
    ... I would say TAXI DRIVER has much more in common with Scorsese s oeuvre than with Schrader s. Schrader always likes to tell his Bresson story, where he met
    Message 1 of 36 , Oct 1, 2006
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      --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Marc Raymond <mraymond_1918@...> wrote:
      >
      > In the case of TAXI DRIVER, much has been written
      > about the two auteurs of the film (or four, according
      > to Jonathan Rosenbaum, who includes De Niro and
      > Herrmann), most famously Robin Wood, who argues the
      > film is incoherent because of the reactionary (Wood
      > states fascist) Schrader and the radical Scorsese. In
      > this case, it is clear that the film would have been
      > much different with Schrader as director (as HARD CORE
      > makes clear), even though I'm not sure if I agree with
      > Wood that the film would have been more reactionary as
      > a result. In fact, the seductiveness of Scorsese's
      > style perhaps makes the film more problematic than if
      > Schrader (a much less dynamic filmmaker, in the
      > opinion of most) had directed. Another interesting
      > comparison is James Toback's FINGERS, made the next
      > year with Keitel, who was Scorsese's original choice
      > for the TAXI DRIVER lead (which would have altered the
      > film's meaning quite dramatically). Ultimately,
      > Scorsese changed very little from the script (mostly
      > actor's improvs), but certainly his style transforms
      > the material. It's certainly debatable if the film has
      > more in common with Scorsese's or Schrader's oeuvre.

      I would say TAXI DRIVER has much more in common with Scorsese's oeuvre
      than with Schrader's. Schrader always likes to tell his Bresson story,
      where he met the master in Cannes and was asked by him if he thinks
      that "his film" (i.e. TAXI DRIVER) will win the Palm d'Or. Naively
      Schrader said yes and we all know it won. Now, this kind of arrogant
      "mine"-attitude of Schrader's is something that bothers me for a long
      time. It's difficult to compare him to Zimmerman or scriptwriters from
      Hollywood's classical era because they never became directors. But we
      all know that Schrader's film would have been much more Bressonian,
      less expressionistic and I think less radical (formally that is). He
      wanted the bloodbath at the end to be more extreme, something that
      Scorsese disagreed with (in my opinion correctly).

      I am not familiar with Robin Wood's view, but Schrader's script was in
      fact more "fascist", although I think that's a pretty harsh words.
      However, in Schrader's original script the pimp was black. Scorsese
      changed him to a white guy (Harvey Keitel). Schrader certainly saw
      Travis as a racist, but that part is kind of toned down in Scorsese's
      version. He looks at the black people in the restaurant in one of his
      over-cranked POV shots, yet in the end all the guys he kills are
      white. That's a major difference. I have yet to read Schrader's
      original script to better compare the changes Scorsese did and I
      wonder if Amy Taubin's BFI book about the film would be of any help.
      Is anyone familiar with it?

      Now as far as Jonathan Rosenbaum's view is concerned, I think that De
      Niro becomes an important auteur in almost every film he's in. He
      certainly is an auteur in almost all of his Scorsese collaborations
      (MEAN STREETS, TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL, THE KING OF COMEDY, CAPE FEAR
      and CASINO) as well as Michael Mann's HEAT. The same for Herrmann of
      course. But I think in the end TAXI DRIVER remains a Scorsese film,
      not a Schrader. Schrader kind of seems to be unhappy with the film, as
      his semi-remakes prove (HARD CORE, LIGHT SLEEPER). And what these two
      films and all the other Schraders also prove is that he would never
      have been able to make a fever dream such as TAXI DRIVER.
    • Richard Modiano
      ... wrote: For deatils on Mixoguchi s shooting methods, see Bordwell s chapter in FIGURES TRACED IN LIGHT. What are Bordwell s sources? I ask because he s
      Message 36 of 36 , Oct 2, 2006
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        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Marc Raymond <mraymond_1918@...>
        wrote:

        "For deatils on Mixoguchi's shooting methods, see Bordwell's chapter
        in FIGURES TRACED IN LIGHT."

        What are Bordwell's sources? I ask because he's made some factual and
        descriptive errors about Mizoguchi before. A lot of English-language
        writing about Mizoguchi is based on second hand information (and this
        is true of other Japanese filmmakers too.) The Kyoto Municipal Museum
        of Art's Cinema Dept. his production files on some of Mizoguchi's
        pictures as well as annotated scripts. It also has the manuscript of
        his death poem.

        By the way, at Pacific Film Archives in Berekeley there's a manuscript
        of an anthology of writings about and by and interviews with Japanese
        filmmakers that was gathered and translated by Leonard Schrader. I
        heard that it was supposed to have been published sometime in the
        1970s but nothing came of it.

        Richard
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