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How Far Has the Taxi Driven in a Century of Cinema?

How Far Has the Taxi Driven in a Century of Cinema?

All films focus on long journeys and emotional crossroads, narrative strands that slowly build up a picture of the road ahead. It is for this reason that taxi drivers make for fantastic film characters, offering a unique personality as well as a method of transport to get to the next scene. From times of reflection and solitude to dramatic exits and thrilling car chases, through the lens of the taxi windscreen we have seen it all in regards to filmography. We have forever compared the iconic yellow New York taxi to the London Cab, although worlds apart these taxis are always depicted as props of significance when used in film. Whether we think of early films of the French New Wave Movement or the postmodern delineations in American films such as ‘Taxi Driver’, the figure of the cabbie has a lot to offer the awaiting audience. Taxi! - 1932 In one of our earliest memories of taxis in film we see drivers forced to unite in Taxi!, battling against their competitors who are threatening to take over the industry. James Cagney stars as a member of a group of cabbies that refuse to be intimidated by the gang that is threatening to clean up. Although a film that blessed our screens in 1931, the storyline does seem to forebode current issues within the industry. Could our London Cabbies take a leaf out of James Cagney’s book in their battle against the Uber booking app? Breakfast At Tiffany's – 1961 Holly Golightly played by Audrey Hepburn is persistent in her attitude that men are not the key to happiness in the infamous 60’s film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film pans her struggle with love and loss and her desire for freedom, wanting to constantly escape situations in which are not ideal. This all changes in the film's closing scene when she realises that a life on her own is not a life worth living, fleeing the taxi to reunite with the man she loves. It is the environment of the taxi in which this vital moment of realisation occurs. Carry on Cabbie - 1963 Carry on Cabbie is arguably one of the most memorable editions to the Carry On repertoire, a piece of film that brought us constant tears of joy through innuendo in 1963! Pressing on issues of classism and sexism, the writers of Carry On Cabbie created the film with a sense a humour in order to achieve social commentary, allowing women to overtake the taxi industry, a profession heavily associated with masculinity. With GlamCabs proving to be a resounding success in spite of its male opponents, a contemporary audience cannot help but smile at the thought of progression, seeing a refreshing number of females now taking to the road as a taxi driver. Taxi Driver - 1976 Taxi Driver was an exploration of all that was postmodern filmography, a film where Robert De Niro concurred the role of the anti-hero. The taxi holds great significance within this film, playing a part in how the existentialist protagonist views his destiny. As a vehicle to see the city, the taxi allows the protagonist to gain an insight into human nature and consequently question it. The iconic opening scene shows Travis’ struggle to see through the windscreen in the rain, signifying his personal anguish and psychological instability. Pulp Fiction - 1994 Quentin Tarantino broke the mould with Pulp Fiction, blending humour with violence to create this critically acclaimed piece of film. This fast-paced tale tackles many issues. From drug abuse and gang affiliation to organised crime and sexual promiscuity, the principal themes reflect the postmodern context in which it was created. Many themes unite to make this multi-layered motion picture. However, with so much going on it is safe to say that the pinnacle scene is lived out in the taxi. Bruce Willis plays Butch Coolidge, an ageing boxer who is paid by his mob boss to lose a fight. When he very much wins the fight and kills his opponent he decides to grab a cab for his dramatic escape. It is in the shield of the taxi in which Bruce Willis’ character begins to unfold, telling his very glamorous female driver what it is like to kill a man. The taxi driver has a long roster of associations in film, predominantly centred on an overarching theme of masculinity. Where femininity is pressed upon it has infamously been addressed ironically, with women taking on the persona of a man to achieve such professional recognition. It does feel that whatever character, plot or length of time the taxi appears in a film it is always a fundamental incorporation, dramatising the narrative for the audience and symbolising a lot more than getting from A to B. .

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