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#1
Old 09-25-2003, 08:16 PM
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What's up with the ending of Taxi Driver?

I saw Taxi Driver for the first time tonight. Of course, I thought it was amazing. I'm dying to see it again right away.

But the ending left me more than a bit confused. I am, of course, referring to everything that happens after Travis' shootout with the pimp and his accomplice, where it's revealed that Travis survived, is revered as a hero, and even sought out by the woman who initially spurned him.

Now, my first impression was "this is all a dream". I thought for sure any second the camera would cut back to Travis lying on the couch bleeding to death. But then that didn't happen. Is there some kind of significance I'm missing here? Granted, I just got back from the film, so I haven't absorbed everything yet, but how does this ending fit in with everything that led up to it?
#2
Old 09-25-2003, 08:40 PM
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my impression is...he went crazy...everyone thought he got caught up in the fight and was a good buy...then he kinda got sane again

listen to the clash album - combat rock - there are alot of references from taxi driver in some of their songs
#3
Old 09-25-2003, 08:40 PM
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Well, it's possible the ending *is* Travis's dying fantasy. The movie doesn't rule that out.

If you take the ending literally, it's a cynical comment on the nature of hero worship: because Travis managed to kill all the "bad guys" in the end, he's annointed by the world as a savior and a knight in shining armor. Even Betsy, who has seen Travis's more, uh, questionable side up close is taken in by the new myth.

Had things gone slightly differently, of course ... had Travis or Iris been killed, say .... Travis would have instead been condemned by the world as a nutjob. Which, of course, he was.
#4
Old 09-26-2003, 12:37 AM
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What always gets me about the ending is when, after Cybill Shepard gets out of the backof the cab, DeNiro looks up in the rear-view mirror and catches a glimpse of himself. That scene always freaks me out. I have had many eerie, semi-lucid dreams that ended that way(with a sharp terror of recognition that jerks you asleep, heart pounding in throat). Excellent stuff. Very creepy and effective, though I'll be damned if I know what the "literal" interpreation is...
#5
Old 09-26-2003, 12:45 AM
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I think Wumpus has hit the nail on the head. One of the themes that runs through many of Scorcese's films is the sheer randomness of life in New York City.

If he hadn't been spotted in the crowd at the rally, he would be the "punk" who shot a politician. Instead he's the "hero" who saves the girl from a wayward existence.

In the end, he hasn't really changed at all; it's the world's perception of him that has changed due to completely random circumstances.

BTW, it took me a minute to recognize Harvey Keitel as the pimp in the doorway.
#6
Old 09-26-2003, 12:45 AM
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My take is that things were actually worse for everyone concerned. The letter from Jodie Foster's character's dad had a very creepy edge to it, as though he had been abusing the girl, she ran away and tricked for Sport, and Bickle blundered in and delivered her back to her abuser and basically got public acclaim for doing it.
#7
Old 09-26-2003, 01:13 AM
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No, Travis survived.

The ending wasn't a fantasy it was just the beginning of the rest of another loser's life.

Travis Bickle's 15 minutes.
Travis Bickle, survivor.

To be continued.
#8
Old 09-26-2003, 09:55 AM
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I can't recall where I heard/read this but I believe it was credited to Scorsese that Bickle (at the end) is ready to go off again. No matter where his previous adventures had taken him, no matter how he affected others, he's still a nutcase and ready to snap again at the least provocation.

Coupled with some of the posted opinions, this leaves the ending with about as wide a range of "what comes next?" as can be imagined. The mark of a good ending, IMO.
#9
Old 09-26-2003, 11:20 AM
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I've always wondered why Travis was even still on the street at the ending. As repulsive as Sport, the guy running the hotel, and the john were, what they did wasn't punishable by judge/jury/executioner Travis.

He may have had a noble purpose, but the method he carried it out was still a wee bit illegal.

That said, I still love the flick. The shootout scene is spectacular in it's gory intensity. I always hate that Travis only gets off one round (IIRC) with his .44.

I also like the camera angles at the end, when the cops show up and the camera, unable to pan the scene because of the small room, goes up over the door opening to show the entire scene.
#10
Old 09-26-2003, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
I've always wondered why Travis was even still on the street at the ending. As repulsive as Sport, the guy running the hotel, and the john were, what they did wasn't punishable by judge/jury/executioner Travis.
See, that's kind of what I was wondering. Did Iris make up some story or something? Because you're not allowed to randomly blow people away just because they're pimps. Although I guess that fits in with the whole "randomness" theory.

I also agree with Krokodil about the somewhat creepy nature of the father's narration and bovinespy about that awesome shot in the rear view mirror. It totally disoriented me.
#11
Old 10-08-2015, 02:13 PM
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whether or not Betsy reestablishes contact with Travis at the end of the film is inconsequential. Travis has overcome his self in a way which puts his continued fantasizing on a legitimate basis.
#12
Old 10-08-2015, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by shy guy View Post
See, that's kind of what I was wondering. Did Iris make up some story or something? Because you're not allowed to randomly blow people away just because they're pimps. Although I guess that fits in with the whole "randomness" theory.

I also agree with Krokodil about the somewhat creepy nature of the father's narration and bovinespy about that awesome shot in the rear view mirror. It totally disoriented me.
New York City in the 1970s was a sewer of rampant crime and corruption (Serpico had only just happened). I don't find it difficult to believe that Bickle could have easily been portrayed as a hero by the NYC newspapers, because even so it would still have only been a little blurb on page two. There was so much crime even a shootout like that would have just come and gone.

And I can picture a lazy ADA not wanting to waste his time prosecuting a nobody who saved a teen prostitute simply because he killed a bunch of scumbags. In fact I can picture a phone call from the Mayor's office specifically telling them to spin him as a hero instead.

I never got a creepy vibe from the father's voice over. I always felt he was just supposed to be 100% the opposite of NYC: Simple, decent, god-fearing country folk. Which of course, doesn't rule out Iris having run away because he was a perv, but I think that's one rabbit hole too deep for a film of that era...
#13
Old 10-08-2015, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
I never got a creepy vibe from the father's voice over. I always felt he was just supposed to be 100% the opposite of NYC: Simple, decent, god-fearing country folk. Which of course, doesn't rule out Iris having run away because he was a perv, but I think that's one rabbit hole too deep for a film of that era...
Too deep a rabbit hole for a film of that era? It was two years after Chinatown,and there aren't many holes in cinema deeper than that one. However, I do agree that the father's voice over wasn't intended as creepy, but to reinforce Travis's new-found role as a hero.
#14
Old 10-09-2015, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
It was two years after Chinatown,...
and 12 years before this post.
#15
Old 10-10-2015, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Too deep a rabbit hole for a film of that era? It was two years after Chinatown,and there aren't many holes in cinema deeper than that one. However, I do agree that the father's voice over wasn't intended as creepy, but to reinforce Travis's new-found role as a hero.
I thought that the father's voice over was meant to be ironic: that Iris, tho being saved from a pimp, was also condemned to a life of milking cows and fetching water from the spring so she could do her washing on her brand new washboard.

Last edited by handsomeharry; 10-10-2015 at 12:16 PM.
#16
Old 10-11-2015, 01:13 AM
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I always felt the ending to Taxi Driver was similar to the one in The King of Comedy, in that you have to wonder if the ending is supposed to be real, or is Rupert in a rubber room somewhere fantasizing all of it, especially since the movie has actual cut-scenes of his daydreaming. I also always felt that the routine he did on The Jerry Langford Show was lame and hacky, probably intentionally.
#17
Old 10-11-2015, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Harvey The Heavy View Post
I always felt the ending to Taxi Driver was similar to the one in The King of Comedy, in that you have to wonder if the ending is supposed to be real, or is Rupert in a rubber room somewhere fantasizing all of it, especially since the movie has actual cut-scenes of his daydreaming. I also always felt that the routine he did on The Jerry Langford Show was lame and hacky, probably intentionally.
Well, again like Taxi Driver, I can picture the ending to The King of Comedy as being accurate. He was sentenced to 8 years, he got out in 2, and the whole thing made him an instant celebrity. Jerry Lewis' character saw him as the lunatic loser that he was and never spoke to him again but the press/narrator still gushed about Pupkin thinking of him as his friend and mentor.

I also agree that his final comedy routine at the end was lame, but that was completely intentional, as most mainstream stand-up comedy back then was similarly lame. It was also meta-ironic as The King of Comedy is the epitome of high-brow dark comedy, so Pupkin's cheesy monologue at the climax of the film was its antithesis.
#18
Old 10-11-2015, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
I thought that the father's voice over was meant to be ironic: that Iris, tho being saved from a pimp, was also condemned to a life of milking cows and fetching water from the spring so she could do her washing on her brand new washboard.
Agreed. The father practically admits that Iris is just going to run away again the first chance she gets.
#19
Old 10-11-2015, 11:54 AM
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I have wondered why he used the same ending for King of Comedy. It made more sense in that one, but it just seemed strange to resurrect it that way. I do notice that not many people remember the very end of Taxi Driver, I think it was too discordant for people to make sense of.
#20
Old 07-31-2017, 07:09 PM
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Just happened onto this thread after watching the ending again after many, many years. I noticed something this time that I didnt see many years ago that lends plausibility to the "hero" ending actually being true, and not some delusional fantasy as some have suggested.

When the ending sequences start, the camera pans to some news articles about the whole incident (many of them) and what Travis actually did, etc. This time around I was able to actually pause the movie and read the articles, and the one thing I had never paid attention to was the newspapers talk about Travis fighting the "Mafia"..


If you actually read the articles they talk about how one of the men he killed (I'm thinking the one who walked out of the bedroom and shot him in the shoulder, who he then shot repeatedly in the face with the automatic) was a very reputed and known underworld mob figure. Probably a man known for killing alot of people himself, and having a vicious reputation. The articles actually refer to Travis "taking on the mob to save a young girls life"..

Now, given this fact that one of these low lives he murdered was a mafia thug? It definitely puts a different spin on this for me, and in my opinion makes the ending a lot more feasible. That being in the equation it would be easy to see how the whole thing got interpreted as him being a "hero". If he had just killed an unknown pimp and junky, and another dirt bag running the brothel in cold blood? The this might have been chalked up to just another psychotic murder spree (even if the intentions were "noble")

We also have to remember, it's not like Travis went unscathed there...He was shot in the neck and in the shoulder as well at point blank range. So given this fact too, and with all the other participants in the shootout being dead? Who's really to say what happened there? Did Travis shoot first and was this a triple first degree homicide? Or did he go there to "rescue" this young girl and get her out of there, and get shot in the process by these thugs, and simply defend himself?

In my opinion there would be almost no way to determine back then what the sequence of events actually were, as even the witness Iris, didnt see the whole thing go down, how it started, etc..She just saw the first man most likely shoot Travis and then get thrown backward into the bedroom from multiple gun shot wounds. She then witnesses Travis being attacked by another assailant and being taken to the floor, with the man yelling "ill kill you!! I'll kill you!!" repeatedly..

She would have no way of knowing that Travis actually had shot that man while he was unarmed on the bottom of the stairs first. So to her perception, Travis very likely could have been acting in self defense. Now you couple this with the fact that when the police question Iris and ask if she knows Travis? And her response is yes, and that he was trying to get her to leave this life and go to school, back to her parents, etc - And now they have a dead pimp, known mafia thug, and another criminal low life dead who were basically holding this 15 year old girl hostage and forcing her to be repeatedly raped by pedophiles for money on a daily basis (this all being confirmed by Iris of course)? And this guy Travis has multiple gun shot wounds and injuries himself and is in a coma?

It actually becomes harder to see this playing out in any other way than Travis being labelled a hero..Because in essence he was...He tried to give up his own life to save Iris's. If you really break it down, it's very plausible that the papers got a hold of the story before the police had decided what to do here as far as Travis's legal "fate" (charge him with 3 counts of murder? Manslaughter?), and once the papers and the public started labeling him a "hero" and a guy who took on the mob to save a little girl? It would be unthinkable for any elected sitting politician to want to buck the public like that and put a hero like this in jail. That would be horrible PR, and most likely ensure they wouldn't get elected again.

So I think it would make sense that orders may have come down from City Hall to the DA and Police that there were not to be any charges filed in this case. Hell, the mayor may have even pinned a medal on Travis for his bravery, etc.

Seeing this again and taking all these facts into consideration, I think it's very likely now that the ending was "real" and not a dying fantasy or dream, or that at least it would actually make "sense" if it was real and meant to be interpreted that way
#21
Old 07-31-2017, 07:44 PM
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FWIW, Roger Ebert said this:

Quote:
There has been much discussion about the ending, in which we see newspaper clippings about Travis' "heroism," and then Betsy gets into his cab and seems to give him admiration instead of her earlier disgust. Is this a fantasy scene? Did Travis survive the shoot-out? Are we experiencing his dying thoughts? Can the sequence be accepted as literally true?

I am not sure there can be an answer to these questions. The end sequence plays like music, not drama: It completes the story on an emotional, not a literal, level. We end not on carnage but on redemption, which is the goal of so many of Scorsese's characters. They despise themselves, they live in sin, they occupy mean streets, but they want to be forgiven and admired. Whether Travis gains that status in reality or only in his mind is not the point; throughout the film, his mental state has shaped his reality, and at last, in some way, it has brought him a kind of peace.

mmm
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