Taxi Driver Novelization by Richard Elman
I've been watching some dark movies as of late. I find that it calms me a bit. I mentioned it in this post and well... I've just been sprinkling in some darker movies along with usual cherry 90's stuff. One of the movies I recently watched was Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver from 1976.
I've seen Taxi Driver once and I remember being blown away by it. But it's been a good fifteen years since that first viewing and ever since I watched The Joker last year, I've had a craving to check it out again. This seemed like the perfect time.
So, last week, I found it on Netflix and I sat down and was blown away once again. It's incredible how well made that movie is. It transports you to a different time and era that feels so authentic. I couldn't possibly vouch for that authenticity since it was made before I was born and I've never been to New York City, but it feels like this horrible, dirty, lived in world where a man struggled to fit in.
A movie like Taxi Driver is almost more of an experience than actual great narrative. Sure, it has a beginning, middle, and end, but what I like about it is its just so off the rails you feel like you are on a ride that you can't get off of. You just kick back, let the movie take you, and once its over you think to yourself, “Damn, I'm glad I got to experience that.”
I did a few searches on the film and discovered it had a novelization written by Richard Elman. Being a huge fan of novelizations, I decided to seek out a copy which I had to do through alternate means because the book is very out of print.
Now, if I'm honest, most novelizations do not live up to their source material. They are fleshed out renditions of early scripts and they typically do not deliver. But this book... WOW does it deliver.
The book is written in the first person and comes off as a fractured running commentary from Travis Bickle's mind. There are punctuation issues, misspellings, and an overall awkwardness that takes you straight back to the movie, but does so much more. It loosely follows the movie, but is not a scene by scene recreation.
For example: in the book, Travis spends time talking about going to porno theaters and he discusses some moments he's experienced there such as falling asleep on a fellow viewer and being judged by the ticket tearer. In the same breath, he mentions also this one time when he tried to ask the candy girl her name and she was rude to him and told him she'd call over the boss. Then he goes onto to describe what he ordered and the price of it all.
It's a fascinating way to turn this movie into a novelization, that reads more like a a companion novella. I'm loving it.
On a somewhat related note...
While doing some research on Taxi Driver, I discovered that a video game was being developed on the property back in 2005. Development made it so far, an E3 trailer was released and some others videos were uploaded to IGN. You can read a short breakdown of what happened (In a nutshell, Majesco ran out of money) and see pictures and videos at Unseen 64.