Taxi Driver appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the flick occasionally showed its age, the transfer usually seemed pretty good.
For the most part, sharpness came across well. Some shots displayed minor softness, but these concerns never became severe. The majority of the movie appeared acceptably accurate and well-defined. Jagged edges and shimmering created no distractions, and I saw only minimal edge enhancement.
Source flaws caused minor concerns. Early on, they looked moderately heavy, especially during the first few minutes. However, after that, they cleaned up pretty well, and most of the movie lacked notable defects. This was a tidy transfer most of the time.
Driver went with a surprisingly lively palette, and the image usually made them look good. Some shots presented moderately murky and runny hues, but most of the shots were pretty dynamic and full. Blacks seemed a little too dense, however, and shadows tended to be murky. These weren’t terribly opaque, but these shots seemed a bit tough to discern. All of this added up to a “B” transfer given the movie’s age and low-budget origins.
The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Taxi Driver also came with ups and downs, but it usually did well for itself. Dialogue and effects were somewhat harsh and flat, but not horribly so, and not any more so than one would expect from a movie that's this old and this inexpensive. The score was surprisingly dynamic. Bass elements could be muddier than I’d like, but the music appeared pretty lively and tight most of the time.
As for the soundfield, it didn’t do much to expand its horizons. The music benefited the most, as the score showed nice stereo imaging throughout the flick. Effects usually stayed focused in the center. They broadened slightly to the sides but didn’t do much. Nonetheless, this was a perfectly solid piece of audio for a movie from 1976, and the quality of the music made it a “B” mix.
A few extras round out this set. We open with a 70-minute and 50-second documentary called Making Taxi Driver. We hear from director Martin Scorsese, writer Paul Schrader, director of photography Michael Chapman, special makeup artist Dick Smith, editor Tom Rolf, composer Elmer Bernstein, and actors Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, Harvey Keitel and Peter Boyle.
“Making” starts with the origins of the project and moves to Scorsese’s involvement, casting and characters, performance issues and improvisation. We also find notes about storyboarding, Scorsese’s approach to the film, shooting in New York, story and themes, visual effects, editing, the score, a variety of scene specifics, and the film’s aftermath/notoriety.
From start to finish, “Making” provides an excellent view of the film. It touches on virtually all-important components of the various processes and does so well. The documentary offers a very thorough overview of the film's creation and impact and entertains as it goes.
Next comes the film’s original script. This presentation makes easy to reference the script while you watch the film. Just press a button and the screen will quickly switch to the approximate corresponding section of the screenplay. Okay, it can be off by a bit - you'll find yourself flipping through parts of the script to find the exact scene you want - but the idea is nonetheless good. I like the presentation and think it’s a fun way to examine the script.
After this we get a storyboard sequence (3:50) that depicts the film's climax; intercut with it are corresponding still photos from the movie itself. I'm not a big storyboard fan, and they probably should have matched the boards with running film footage, not just stills). Despite that, this section nonetheless works pretty well. Another feature offers a photo montage/portrait gallery (8:55) from the production, and another gives us various advertising materials such as posters and lobby cards. These parts are okay but nothing special.
All of the features mentioned in the last paragraph are included as running pieces of video. In other words, you don't just use your DVD remote to flip from frame to frame; in essence, the photos, etc., have all been filmed.
Finally, the Taxi Driver Collector's Edition DVD includes a couple of old standbys. We get four theatrical trailers; these come for Taxi Driver, The Age of Innocence, The Fan and Awakenings. We also receive some minor cast and director biographies.
Dark and haunting, Taxi Driver provides a rich examination of a deeply troubled character. The movie paints a full picture of its subject and remains effective after more than 30 years. The DVD presents pretty good picture, sound and extras. This is a generally positive package for an excellent film.
To rate this film, visit the 2007 Collector's Edition review of TAXI DRIVER