Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is one of my favorite movies of all time, and now, it’s possible that one of Hollywood’s most beloved is facing the worst of all fates: a contemporary remake. Unconfirmed reports are echoing from the Berlin Film Festival that imply Scorsese will be teaming up with Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier to remake the 1976 classic. And get this – Robert DeNiro will reprise his role as the deranged Travis Bickle. Although the claims have produced much speculation, Peter Aalbank, von Trier’s fellow producer, has said an official statement will be made shortly. I’m not very competent when it comes to sugarcoating, so allow me to be frank: this is ridiculous.
I’ve never understood Hollywood’s love affair with remaking older movies. De Palma’s Scarface was fantastic, and even Peter Jackson’s King Kong was a pleasant surprise, but when you try to remake some of the most recognizable, household names in classic cinema, why don’t you just slap a big ‘desperate’ across your forehead? I’m not calling names, as I’ve never questioned Scorsese’s judgment when it comes to what makes a good film, but color me disappointed if any of this comes to fruition. Taxi Driver is the pinnacle of the character study department, and recreating it is the equivalent of trying to recreate the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Why try?
I’m not trying to say all remakes are bad, they’re not. But a remake only turns out well if the original film is either terrible to begin with, or majority of current audiences haven’t seen the original. That’s two strikes for Taxi Driver. What are they going to recreate next, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? Oh wait, Gus Van Sant already killed his credibility with a pathetic 1998 version. Vince Vaughn was even playing the demented Bates! So what’s my point? Many believe that Hollywood is lacking in originality nowadays, and these outrageous remakes are only fueling the fire. Studios should take a chance on an unknown artist with an original idea, and see what happens. It happened in 1940, and Citizen Kane was the result.
Bottom line: if Taxi Driver gets a remake, I don’t plan on seeing it, and neither should you.
Update: Lars Von Trier’s business partner Peter Aalbaek Jensen has denied this rumour.