The first example where the city is shown to be a character in the film is through the opening shots of Travis’ Taxi through use of color.
The shot includes the taxi, smoke that was a common feature of the New York streets in the ‘70s, as well as the proper lighting. The shot brings out a great aesthetic style if the film allowing the audience to understand the visual highlights present. Shadows and smoke pervade the shot before the bold letters with the title of film lead to the establishment of neo-noir. The shot starts with a focus on the smoke before the taxi passes and this is a way of showing the real-life of the city at the time. The smoke in the shot stays around for some time during the introductions. The yellow-tinged smoke might also indicate how grimy the streets of New York are, and the taxi becomes the only solace that helps Travis to get through the city. Compared to other objects around, the taxi is shown to be bulky thus acting as vantage point for the driver.
Another shot in the film that allows the audience to see the city as a character is in the ‘overhead’ shot with a deep focus that shows the aftermath of the carnage that Travis had done at the apartment.
Through the scene, one is able to understand the lifestyle of the city and what the residents are engaged in. the acts that precede the shot include Travis walking into the apartment and shooting people that are believed to be involved with child prostitution. There is a sharp contrast between all the screaming during the shooting and the great silence that follows afterward. The victims of the shootout are shown to be frozen while Iris is shown to look away as Travis stares at the ceiling. There is a mood of relief that surrounds this part as Travis is shown to be quite satisfied with what he had done. It is through the shot that one might get to understand the carnage that goes on in the city as well as the various sins that are painting a grim picture of the city. Violence seems to be the order of the say as it can be seen from this shot.
Finally, the city is depicted as a character through the camera shot where Travis has gone to acquire a gun from the black market that utlizes low contrast.
In this shot, Travis is seen to be pointing a gun at two women through the window. The camera then moves slowly, thus creating unease for the audience. The camera is held with a high degree of control as the audience is allowed to follow the hand that is holding the gun. Through the shot, it is possible to understand the dislike of Travis on socialized individuals. The world outside where he is pointing the gun to which includes two women shows the part of the city life that is unreachable to him. The city seems to have no respect for human life. The selling of guns in the black market and the events that succeeded the purchase of the gun are all a clear show of what the city is about. Crime seems to take root in the city, and the lack of a clear law to guide the people depicts the contributions that the city is making on the suffering of its people.
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