Viet-De Niro: FILM FORM

Film in its rawest form is made up of multiple frames shined in front of a light.  As simple as it sounds, it is definitely the truth.  So what makes film so special anyway?  According to chapter 2 in Film Art, film form is the basis to why films are greatly appreciated.  Film form, is described as a system of relations that we can perceive among the elements in the whole film. (pg. 55)  These elements include form in terms of meaning, emotions, and feeling, form in terms of associations we make towards the past, and lastly principles of form in terms of function, motifs, developments, and consistency/inconsistency.  In order to apply what has been said in terms of film form, I have chosen the film Taxi Driver as my artwork.

The film Taxi Driver embodies a lot of the principles of having film form.  As mentioned in chapter 2 form is not always formal.  It could differ from your preconceived ideas and expectations.  I thought this was a concept that matched the film greatly because of the character that Robert De Niro plays in this movie.  He plays a self-destructive Vietnam War vet who is trying to apply himself to normal life.  In other Vietnam films such as Apocalypse Now and Rambo, the image of a Vietnam vet is associated with having a negative connotation to it.  In Taxi Driver it appeared to be all like the rest but as we find out later Robert De Niro is full of morals (in a psychotic way) and comes away as a savior-type character.  Although his tactics were not as that of a Superman, his vigilante approach does come off well appreciated.  It’s a Martin Scorsese film for crying out loud.  Expect twists, corruption, blood, anger, and death.  The form of the story of Taxi Driver was full of the unfamiliar expectations.  The storyline especially is more explicit and grungy than any “good guy always wins” films.  When I first viewed this film it went against my prior experiences and showed me a lot of surprising displays.

Another concept that I grasped onto in this chapter was how emotion can be drawn out of you while watching a film.  This is another important element in form that makes film into artwork.  In Taxi Driver it was difficult to choose who you would sympathize for.  Robert De Niro would play a “nobody” trying to get all of what he can out of his aggravated life.  Jodie Foster who plays a child prostitute is also living a life underdevelopment.   Robert De Niro’s character did not appear to be the most respectable type.  His lazy ways, illegal purchasing of weapons and short temper were something a villain would come of as.  But despite this, you get an understanding for the guy where you are able to sympathize with the hard knock life that he was living.  I feel that it was passion to change that made him likable in this film.

In relation to the principle forms of film, Taxi Driver delivers a good set or elements that are well represented. In the form of a prostitute, Robert De Niro realizes the mess that is going on in the city of New York. As he observes the corruption in the city he had gained the perspective of doing good deeds. Despite having a troubled intimate life and a worthless job, he finds it in himself to fix things that seem out of his hands.

In terms to development, Taxi Driver shows the progression of Robert De Niro’s character Travis Bickle. As the film had started, his life was going nowhere. The war had been over and the job market had not been a welcoming one. As he begins to put his life together by finding a job and making time to make self reflections, De Niro is able to apply himself to bigger things by finding a woman. As said before, he begins a heroic like effort against the corruption in town, for example, prostitution and the senator. The development of form in the film ends with De Niro going on a shoot out against everything he believed in.

Lastly, the unity of the film form is represented in the image of Robert De Niro’s actions. There is also an informal display on unity as well. There is a lack of realism that we see in the ending of the film. We do not know for certain if what happened in the end actually happened or was it just part of his characters fantasy. Whatever the case is, it builds for a great ending.

The film is best seen as a whole but for a good glimpse of what De Niro represents in the film can be seen in the last clip starting at the 6 minute mark.

The entire movie is on Youtube as well.  Click under this username and you’ll find it.


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