TK2 Taxi Driver Deconstruction


To look at the editing, particularly of the interaction between Travis and Betsy, I downloaded a copy of the script and tried to note at what points the cuts were made.

While doing this I noticed that cutting during a character’s lines was used quite sparingly, and the moment following a cut at the end of a line is usually a breath as the other character decides what to say next.

The highest density of cuts occurs during Travis’ speech when he explains why he wants to have coffee with Betsy. I recognise this speech as what the scene is all about philosophically, a moment that the audience really needs to pay attention to, and it contains five cuts, with three shots all of which are moving. This stands out in an exchange that has a total of 28 cuts, before start of this speech there has only been 12 cuts in a minute and a half, then we see four different shots in the space of ten seconds, after this we have the remain 11 cuts over about a minute so the scene definitely gains more pace even though the dialogue is much more sparse. I think this helps us to follow Betsy as she makes up her mind about Travis, we get to watch her watch him and get coaxed by him and these quick cuts are reflecting the speed of her thought.

One shot that I can’t figure out is the high angle shot of the desk as Travis sweeps his arm over it. Firstly, it has some flow from the preceding shot but doesn’t seem to flow into the shot that follows. It is a very literal shot but what does it add? Would we have seen Betsy be more affected by Travis if we were able to watch her eyes examine her environment? But considering her reaction at the end of the speech maybe she isn’t all that affected, maybe she is just impressed and the vulnerability and openness of Travis at this moment is much more mesmerising. Really, I wonder if this shot could have been almost anything: a wide shot of the office, someone else answering a call, Travis watching her leave alone on another day, a busy New York street. Wouldn’t any of these abstract shots have displayed the feeling Travis was trying to convey? It would have completely broken the world of this scene, but Travis is doing that anyway by getting very honest in a scene that has been quite playful. It is a very poetic shot and maybe that is the best poetry that Travis can muster.


The colour is noticeably cold when Travis crosses the street and it is still cold when he enters and walks towards Betsy. I think it because it has been white-balanced for daylight and this action is happening in the shadows. Once he arrives at the desk his skin tones appear natural and he definitely is contrasted against the cool background. Makes his character feel warm and bright in a dull environment. I’m assuming the posters on the wall behind him are mostly white and they seem quite blue to me. Against the cold, black and white faces of Palantine, Travis looks full of life.

But these colours continue to switch between the colder background in close ups of Betsy and the warmer background in the wides. This is most noticeable at the 0:32/0:33 cut in this clip. Based on the discussion we have had in class I suspect that this is more to do with the film stock than any camera settings but I haven’t worked with film in this way so I’m really not sure.


This is a small moment but I noticed that when Tom reenters the scene, he doesn’t circle around to the back of the room and make his way down the centre of the frame, he instead steps over something and squeezes between a desk and a pillar to get into the frame. This definitely plays up the comic nature of his behaviour. If he had come down the centre of the frame he would have really imposed on the scene like Orsen Wells in Citizen Kane (Van Sijll 2005).

Citizen Kane Orsen Wells



Van Sijll, Jennifer 2005, Cinematic Storytelling: the 100 most powerful film conventions every filmmaker must know, Michael Wiese Productions, California, USA.

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