Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that examines the films that inspired Martin Scorsese’s movie Taxi Driver.
Martin Scorsese has always been upfront and vocal about his love of cinema, on-screen and off. Movies don’t have “works cited” lists in the end credits to untangle homage from plagiarism. But that kind of butt-covering doesn’t even remotely feel necessary with Scorsese: who is not only vocal off-screen about the films that influence him but arguably performs a kind of visual citation.
As the video essay below keenly argues, Taxi Driver — the 1976 Paul Schrader-penned tale of isolated, violence-courting toxic masculinity — is a perfect case study of the director’s entrenchment as a silver screen fiend.
Schrader himself has noted his own cinematic influences (including the nerve-wracking austerity of Robert Bresson’s minimalist masterpiece Pickpocket). But focusing on Scorsese’s touch points, we find everything from game-changing cinematic movements to one-off masterpieces. The video essay identifies Scorsese’s clear debt to the bold expressionism of Mario Bava and Jacques Tourneur, to Jean-Luc Goddard’s jump-cuts, and to horror thrillers like Psycho that dare us to identify with morally repugnant protagonists.
This goes without saying — and the video essay agrees — that engaging with the other works is a valid and powerful creative approach to movie-making. Art isn’t created in a vacuum. And Taxi Driver is hard proof of what you can create when you engage actively with your inspirations:
Watch “Taxi Driver | The Films That Inspired Martin Scorsese”
Who made this?
This video on the films that inspired Taxi Driver comes courtesy of The Discarded Image, a video essay channel created by Julian Palmer. The channel began with a deconstruction of how Steven Spielberg creates suspense with the beach scene in Jaws. It has steadily grown from there. You can check out The Discarded Image’s video essays here.
More videos like this
- Another sample of The Discarded Image’s work on the importance of Persona in the career of Ingmar Bergman.
- And here’s one more on the pivotal role of sound design in the filmography of Edgar Wright.
- Here’s one more from The Discarded Image on how Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up distorts the conventions of the murder mystery-thriller.
- For more Martin Scorsese content, here’s Thomas Flight with a video essay on the themes of the sacred and the profane in the filmmaker’s work.
- Here’s an episode of Blank on Blank where (in archival audio) Martin Scorsese discusses the importance of framing.