Martin Scorsese's landmark film to be re-imagined for the present-day
Yesterday, I mentioned some of the characteristic themes of Don DeLillo's fiction, ranging from commercialism, media representation and catastrophe in American culture. For fans of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, these motifs are all-too-familiar. The film addresses all of these themes to a greater or lesser degree, and presents them as symbols of a culture in decline. Robert DeNiro's performance became a signature trademark of urban alienation and threatened masculinity, as a dislocated protagonist attempts to navigate the disorientating streets of late 1970s New York.
Travis Bickle, a full-time taxi driver, becomes increasingly disconnected from his surroundings, and begins to imagine moral and political codes as corrupted by a malevolent modernity. Bickle's fragile relationship with reality shifts and splinters as he fantasizes about moral salvation. He imagines himself as the assassin of a presidential candidate, or a cinematic archetype of brutal vigilantism. The films ends appropriately as an ironic comment on the very idea of the hero, a figure constructed by traditional moral codes that operates through violence and social paranoia.
With this in mind, it's interesting to hear rumours of a possible remake or re-imagining of Scorsese's landmark film. Some might argue that the last ten years have been characterized by media paranoia and reactionary politics, fertile ground for a new Travis Bickle. A new adaptation could update this marginal figure for the twenty-first century, a place to inscribe cultural fears and anxieties. In short, someone troubled and confused, with dreams of salvation in his head (link via Ballardian):
In what is surely the most bizarre rumour to emerge from this year's Berlin film festival, it is whispered that Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are preparing a remake of Taxi Driver, their 1970s tale of a man who stood up, saw clearly and shaved his hair into a mohawk. Only this time, it transpires, they may have a fresh passenger on board – Lars von Trier could be riding shotgun.
Copenhagen film magazine Ekko reports that Scorsese is currently discussing the possibility of a rebooted Taxi Driver with the Danish director in tow. It remains to be seen whether this will be a remake or a sequel, or so much hot air of the kind that has a tendency to swirl around the mischievous Von Trier. Speaking to the magazine, Peter Aalbæk, Von Trier's producing partner at Zentropa studios, would "neither confirm nor deny" the rumour, but said that an announcement would be made shortly. [Read the article]