Prompt – A scene

This scene from Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver is about a man stopping his car in front of the building then he gets in and asks the lady in the office to go out with him. 

My impression when I first watched the scene was that the man was quite good at flirting with the lady. Later I found out the man in red vest is Travis, a taxi driver and the lady is a presidential campaign worker, Betsy.

First of all, let’s talk about the story and the characters appearing in this scene. As can be seen, Travis parks his car assertively, staring at the office and decides to enter the building without any hesitation. He opens the door and heads toward Betsy’s table. Perhaps the director wants to show us that Travis has already known Betsy, and it is truly confirmed later when he says: “I drive by this place a lot”. A woman falls in love through her ears. Travis uses his rhetorical words to praise her beauty in order to ask her out. To my eyes, Betsy does not seem unhappy or lonely at all. But we are all a little unhappy, a little lonely sometimes, and unavoidable, Betsy agrees to have coffee with him. Although the story revolves these two characters, I can not ignore the man in pink shirt and light blue suit behind them. Through his behavior and performance, especially when he eavesdrops on their conversations, I guess the audience would definitely giggle at this funny character.

The scene starts with Travis getting out of his yellow car, as a signature of New York cab. The office where the characters take their conservation is a little messy, average sized, few people working in the background and a general relaxing atmosphere.

The scene adopts a mixture of type of shot. It starts with a medium close-up of Travis and is followed by an extreme long shot of him crossing the street, makes his step into the building. And when Travis walks toward Betsy’s table, a point-of-view (POV) shot, which the camera incorporated with his eyes, was used to create a feeling of his great effort approaching Betsy. The camera angles and types of shot (medium shot and medium close-up) were constantly altered to present the changes of their conservation as they get to know each other.

Sound and music in this scene are quite simple, including background noise in office, such as: telephone ringing, people talking, etc. The scene ends as Travis succeeds in inviting Betsy for coffee with bright saxophone music like the other similar soundtrack of 60, 70s movies when there is a scene of couple flirting to each other.

Overall, the scene succeeds in expressing the purpose of director and it does not irritate the audience. However, on my 10th times watching the scene, perhaps I have found a glitch between 2:48 – 2:50, when the actor changed his right finger to his left one as he was pointing at the table. Although this glitch is not likely to get attention, but it is better to avoid any mistake when working in film production industry.

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