“America has always possessed a winning mentality, and proudly boasts about it at any passing opportunity. Between politicians who claim the United States is the greatest country in the world – with no statistical data on hand to back such claims, no less – and college frat boys wearing tees or tank tops that read ‘Back to Back World Champs’ at social functions, to some the idea of America being second-best in any respect is sacrilegious. It’s bits of history like the Vietnam War that these folks would rather brush to the side for the sake of argument. For many, the failure of Vietnam was a ‘sackcloth of humiliation,’ and for once the country found itself in the role of victim rather than victor. Even worse, it was broadcast for everyone to see; front-row seats to the impotence of American intervention.
Less than a year after the end of the Vietnam War, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver was released on February 8th, 1976. Written by Paul Schrader, the film is a psychological character study of Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle, a Vietnam vet who takes a job as a night shift cabbie. His late hours expose him to what he considers the scum of the earth, and his progressively deteriorating mental state leads him to a complete break and disillusionment with reality. A personal project for Scorsese, De Niro and especially Schrader, none of the three believed that the film would prove successful; in fact, Scorsese has admitted that their motivation for making it was simply because they had to. Well, of course, Taxi Driver wound up being one of the best films of the year; it was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won the Palme d’Or in Cannes three months after its American premiere.”
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