Taxi Driver vs. Nightcrawler | Tales of Nocturnal Psychopaths


The year was 1976. When writer Paul Schrader
and director Martin Scorsese collaborated to make a film called ‘Taxi Driver’, little had they imagined that it will go on to be considered as one of the greatest films of all time. Robert DeNiro delivered an excellent
performance as Travis Bickle, a cab driver driven to insanity
by loneliness. Listen you fuckers, you screwheads. Here’s a man who would not
take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs,
the filth, the shit. Here is someone who stood up. Since then, Travis Bickle has been
the subject of numerous character studies and remains one of the most popular
characters in cinematic history. 38 years after the world met
Travis Bickle for the first time, Lou Bloom came by. The brainchild of Dan Gilroy
for his debut film ‘Nightcrawler’, Lou also exhibits traits similar to Travis, most notably loneliness and psychopathic behavior. What if my problem wasn’t
that I don’t understand people, but that I don’t like them? What if I was obliged to hurt
you for something like this? In this video, we will try to draw out the parallels
between the two characters as well as the films. Without even watching the movies, the first similarity that you can
find out between the two are their posters. Both the posters have a car in the backdrop and the lead characters standing
a few feet away from their cars. The car is the most valued
possession for both the characters and is essential to their livelihood. Note how both the posters are shot in the dark because they work in night jobs. A few minutes into both the films and you will come across a scene where
the lead character tries to get a job for himself. I will work anytime, anywhere. Will you work Jewish holidays? Anytime, anywhere. I am looking for a job. In fact, I have made up my
mind to find a career that I can learn and grow into. Who am I? I am a hard worker, I set high goals and I have been told that I am persistent. Notice how in both the scenes, the employer is sitting behind a desk while our lead characters are
standing in front of the desk and expressing their willingness
to work in any given situation. One of the early scenes in Taxi Driver involves Travis looking out at
the streets of New York while driving. All the animals come out at night. Whores, skunk pussies, buggers,
queens, fairies, dopers, junkies He is disgusted by the
filthy people in the city And later in the film, his psychopathic actions
are partly instigated by his desire to get
rid of the filth. Nightcrawler also features a scene where we see Lou driving while
looking out at the streets of Los Angeles. He sees a red car in a lavish showroom, but at the moment doesn’t
have any money to own such a car. This car represents his lust for money,
which is a driving factor of his psychopathic behavior. Of course once he has enough money, he waits no longer to
buy the car of his dreams. Now let’s move on to one of
the major themes of Taxi Driver. Loneliness has followed me
my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars. Sidewalks, stores everywhere There’s no escape. I am God’s lonely man. Travis is a loner. He doesn’t have any real friends
and isn’t in touch with his family. He lives alone in his apartment and spends most of his time writing in
his diary or watching television or adult films. He has poor social skills and struggles to fit in with the society. While loneliness isn’t a
major theme in Nightcrawler the character of Lou Bloom
enjoys loneliness. Much like Travis, he lives alone in an apartment with no friends or family by his side. His apartment is always dark. even when you can see
daylight outside the windows. In all the scenes shot during daylight, you will always see him wearing sunglasses. It’s as if he has an affinity for darkness. But unlike Travis, he doesn’t
have poor social skills. He has an ability to charm people. I can tell by your tie, it’s Friday. He chooses to be lonely
because he likes being lonely. Now let’s have a look at
the women in their lives Travis and Lou express romantic interests
in strong, confident and independent women. Lou is interested in Nina even
though she is much older than him. Travis falls in love with Betsy
who works as a campaign volunteer. Both the women are seemingly good
at what they do and carry themselves with panache. Lou takes Nina on a date to a restaurant where he exerts leverage over her
and blackmails her into sleeping with him. Travis also takes Betsy on a date to a restaurant where they seem to establish a connection. But he ruins it up on their next date
when he takes her to a porno theater. Though he doesn’t intend to offend her, Betsy is disgusted and calls off the relationship. Needless to say, both the women have an
unpleasant dating experience with our lead characters. It’s also interesting to note that
both Betsy and Nina are dressed in white when our characters encounter
them for the first time. While this may have no
significance in Nightcrawler, the white dress serves an
important purpose in Taxi Driver. The white dress is used to give Betsy
an angelic appearance in the eyes of Travis. She appeared like an angel. Out of this filthy mess. She is alone. They.. cannot.. touch.. her… And of course, who can forget the iconic ‘You talkin to me?’ monologue
in front of the mirror. Lou Bloom also took some inspiration here and decided to vent out his
frustration in front of a mirror. You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Who the fuck do you think
you are talking to? These scenes in front of the mirror
offer us a glimpse into their pyschopathy. Both the characters reveal
their full blown psychopathic nature in a bloody shootout scene in the climax. Owing to loneliness, rejection
and disgust about the filth around him, Travis slowly descends into insanity. He sets out on a bloody rampage
believing his actions to be heroic while they are nothing but psychotic. This psychopathic stint
results in a lot of bloodshed. Lou on the other hand is
so hungry about money and fame that he doesn’t display
even a slightest hint of conscience. He stages an encounter
between a gang and cops which results in a few casualties. He even tricks his partner into death just because he exerted leverage over him. If this isn’t psychopathy, I don’t know what is. An important point to note here is that while both Travis and Lou
exhibit psychopathic behavior, Travis does have a conscience. He is not a wicked man. He is just a lonely guy and
the loneliness takes a toll on him. He just can’t comprehend
that his actions are psychotic rather than altruistic. On the other hand,
Lou is a despicable character right from the beginning. In the very first scene of the film, we see him attacking a
guard to steal his watch. He even rigs his rival’s van
just to get rid of him. This clearly shows that the man
doesn’t possess a conscience. In addition to being a psychopath,
Lou is also a megalomaniac. He enjoys power and likes
to be in control of everything. When he coaxes Nina into sleeping with him, it is more about power than sexual desire. To quote Oscar Wilde, “Everything in this world is about sex,
except sex” “Sex is about power” Lou has got the upper hand
and he likes to leverage this power to coax an older woman
into sleeping with him. It is this feeling of power that he enjoys. When he tricks his partner into death, we get to see both these sides of Lou. You took my bargaining power, Rick. You used it against me. You would have done it again. He feels threatened when
his power is taken away from him. This shows his megalomaniac side. So much so that he gets his partner killed without a slightest feeling of guilt. This shows his psychopathic side. In the ending scene,
we see that Lou has expanded his business and is training a team he has newly hired. I will never ask you to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself From whatever we have
seen throughout the film, it’s clear that this is
just his way of luring in people. He isn’t going to blink an eye before sacrificing any of them
for his own personal gains. Travis isn’t going to
come out of his insanity either. As he drops off Betsy
in the ending scene of the film, we get to see a hint of his maniac side again. He looks into the rear view mirror
and feels a sudden rush of anger. He is still unstable beneath the surface. He is a ticking bomb who might explode anytime again.

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