Blu-ray Review: Taxi Driver

Posted: November 14, 2013 in Taxi Driver (1976)
Tags: , , , , ,

TDCover

Distributor:  Sony Pictures

Release Date: April 05, 2011

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:53:48

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 24.03 Mbps)

Main Audio: 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 16-bit)

Alternate Audio:

5.1 French DTS-HD Master Audio

5.1 Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio

5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin, Thai

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: This title is also available as a 2-Disc DVD release. The same extras are included on the DVD edition, with the exception of the 1986 audio commentary with Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader.

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“Much of Taxi Driver arose from my feeling that movies are really a kind of dream-state, or like taking dope.” -Martin Scorsese

Travis Bickle is one of the most memorable social misfits in all of cinema. He is simultaneously inscrutable and accessible. The vagueness of the narrative contributes to the dream-like nature and provides an extremely subjective experience. Perhaps this is the reason that Taxi Driver has endured for 37 years. People experience the film in ways that are accessible to them. The film grows and changes with the viewer.

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The Presentation:

5 of 5 Stars

Taxi Driver delivers an immaculately conceived package for fans of the film. The “Digibook” presentation is actually a tri-fold package with beautiful artwork and a plastic tray that keeps the disc well protected. This is much preferred to the folder-like sleeve that most special releases insist on including (these do not protect the disc). The case includes a compartment that holds a dozen high quality 5 x 7 semi-gloss photographs. The set includes a poster reproduction, promotional stills from the film, and behind the scenes photographs. 

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The animated menu is extremely attractive and showcases the incredible Bernard Herrmann score.

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Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

The film’s 4K restoration transfer is exceptional. It is difficult to imagine that the film ever looked any better than it does on this incredible transfer. Cinephiles will appreciate that the transfer does not attempt to reinvent the horse for modern audiences, but represents the film as it is originally intended. The transfer exhibits a cinematic layer of grain that is faithful to its celluloid source and the image seems to be free of any DNR or scrubbing of the image. Edge enhancement is also never an issue. Instead, the image maintains the film’s detail in a manner that is much clearer than it has ever been on home video. Shadow detail is top notch, and blacks seem surprisingly accurate and free of any issues. Colors are also rendered accurately. The only noticeable flaw in the entire image is the shoddy looking Columbia logo at the beginning of the film.

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Sound Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is also spectacular. While the track will not compete with more modern sound mixes, this track represents the film as it should be represented. The film’s source elements are produced here with fantastic fidelity. The film’s dialogue is mixed at consistent levels and is always extremely clear. Bernard Herrmann’s classic score has never sounded as good as it does here. It is conceivable that a few people might complain that the surround activity of the mix is limited, but this as is it should be. It is difficult to imagine that this film has ever sounded better than it does on this disc.

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Special Features:

5 of 5 Stars

The disc comes with a comprehensive set of supplemental material.

Audio Commentary with Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader:

This feature length commentary with Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader is the best of the discs three commentary tracks. The track was originally recorded for the 1986 Criterion Laserdisc release. Scorsese dominates the track and offers his thoughts on the production. He is always engaging. Schrader’s comments are repeated in his solo track, but offer another perspective on occasion. It is an essential listening experience for fans of the film.

Audio Commentary with Paul Schrader:

Paul Schrader discusses the film from a writer’s standpoint. His commentary is leisurely paced, but he does offer a few interesting details about the production along the way.

Audio Commentary with Robert Kolker:

Robert Kolker (Author of “A Cinema of Loneliness”) delivers an extremely engaging and screen specific analysis of the entire film. Kolker delivers his commentary in an enthusiastic manner that manages to keep the track from becoming overly dry.

Making Taxi Driver – (480p) – (1:10:55)

Laurent Bouzereau’s comprehensive documentary on the making of Taxi Driver is the best feature on a disc full of excellent supplements. With a length of over 70 minutes, every aspect of production is discussed by the film’s cast and crew (Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Michael Chapman, and more).

Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver – (1080p) – (16:52):

This featurette features Scorsese as he looks back on the film and discusses several aspects of production. Some of this information is repeated in the “Making of” documentary, but this never becomes an issue. The director is always interesting and it is important to have a featurette that focuses on his memories of the production.

Producing Taxi Driver (1080p) – (9:53): 

Michael Phillips (Producer) and Paul Schrader (Screenwriter) discuss the difficulties of getting Taxi Driver made from a producer’s standpoint. 

God’s Lonely Man – (1080p) – (21:42)

Paul Schrader discusses the Travis Bickel character in great detail and also covers his experiences writing the script. Most of this information was discussed in his commentary track.

Influence and Appreciation: A Martin Scorsese Tribute – (1080p) – (18:30)

Scorsese’s associates and contemporaries (Robert De Niro, Paul Schrader, Roger Corman, Oliver Stone, and others) discuss the director and his legacy. This is an interesting featurette, but one wishes that it was more comprehensive.

Travis’ New York – (1080p) – (6:16)

Michael Chapman, Ed Koch, and a few other participants discuss New York as it was in the 1970s and the changes that were made since that period. 

Travis’ New York Locations – (1080p) – (4:49):

This interesting split-screen style supplement showcases nine of the film’s scenes as footage from the same location is shown as they appeared in 2006. It is certainly interesting to see the drastic changes made to these locations.

Taxi Driver Stories – (1080p) – (22:23)

Cab drivers (and former cab drivers) share their experiences of working in New York in the 1970s. This featurette is always interesting, but is one of the less essential supplements included on the disc.

Intro to Storyboards by Martin Scorsese – (1080p) – (4:32):

Martin Scorsese discusses his reasons for using story boards to help him plan (or pre-visualize) his scenes.

Storyboard to Film Comparison – (1080p) – (8:21):

Viewers are shown rough pre-production sketches of some of the shots as they play along with footage from the film. It is an interesting supplement.

Galleries – (1080p) – (9:28):

This feature is essentially a collection of four photo galleries (Bernard Herrmann Score, On Location, Publicity Materials, and Scorsese at Work) that are edited into video montages that feature Bernard Herrmann’s score.

Interactive Script to Screen:

This supplement allows the viewer to read a slightly reorganized screenplay as they view the film. It is an instructive experience.

Taxi Driver Preview – (480p) – (2:09)

Unfortunately, the “trailer” included on the disc is actually an MTV-style advertisement for the 2-Disc DVD release. Most fans would likely prefer the original Theatrical Trailer.

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Final Words:

Taxi Driver is an amazing film and a classic that is required viewing for everyone. Sony’s Blu-ray release is near perfect. The 4K restoration image, incredible sound mix, and comprehensive supplementary material make the disc an essential purchase.

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Review by: Devon Powell

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Comments
  1. Awesome film! Scorsese’s best!

  2. Trey says:

    I love Scorsese.

  3. […] Blu-ray Review: Taxi Driver (bluraydownlow.wordpress.com) […]

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