A Taxi Driver Remake… from Martin Scorsese Himself?


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.

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  • Nick D

    King Kong is not a household name in classic cinema?

    Though I don’t think a Taxi Driver remake would be a good idea. If I recall correctly though, I think Scorsese talked about possibly revisiting the Travis Bickle character in todays world.

  • hm… i like this..

  • Alex

    I for one thought the remake of King Kong was absolute shit.

  • Oh God…
    But when you think of it, it could actually be fun in a way…a Taxi Driver meets the logic of The Five Obstructions kind of film! In any case, if good old Lars is involved, it’s definitely not going to be a shot-to-shot copy of the old one (and with DeNiro at this age? Come on…) like the ‘Psycho’ was, but some sort of cinematic experiment. And speaking of which, don’t be so cruel to the old Gus – I always felt there was a kind of warm dedication to the original in the remake he did, not an attempt to really produce a remake in a way Jackson, for instance, did with ‘King Kong'; it was also an experiment of sorts, and it was a bad movie but a cute dedication, I find…

  • swarez

    Funny how this news has different versions depending on which site it’s on.
    This apparently is an idea from Lars Von Trier who wanted to have Scorsese remake Taxi Driver five times but with restrictions, basically the same idea he did with Five Obstructions where he asked his favorite director to remake his film five times.

    Then Trier’s producer came out yesterday and said that this news was bunk.

  • dv

    theres been so many “remakes” and “reboots” lately, maybe its time to reframe our thinking on remakes.

    its not that they are remaking it because the first one was flawed in some way. they’re retelling the story for a new audience. and whats the big deal if they do remake taxi driver? no matter if its better or worse, the original will always exist.

    furthermore, what makes a film’s story so much more precious than say a stage show’s? plays are remade, rehashed, retold constantly, and no one makes a fuss. how many romeo and juliets are there? same story, new audience. just because in this case its the same film medium, doesn’t depreciate the original story. its just another interpretation.

  • Is this a new trend coming up or something? Director’s remaking there own classic films? I mean we JUST heard about Cronenberg remaking The Fly. I’m not gonna write it off completely yet though… after all the only directors I can think of that have re-made there own films so far is Haneke and George Sluzie (misspelled?). It could still be interesting.

  • DPenn

    I would wager a majority of the movie-going public hasn’t seen Taxi Driver. I have no way to back that up, just a hunch. Oh, and William Randolph Hearst quashed Citizen Kane on release, and the film’s financial failure pretty much derailed Welles’ Hollywood career.

    All that said, I agree with you; remaking Taxi Driver is one of the stupider ideas I’ve heard this week. On the other hand, I couldn’t resist seeing what von Trier and Scorsese come up with.

    And remakes aren’t bad, per se. Musicians perform selections of music again and again, and actors perform the same stage plays again and again. I suppose it’s the sentiment and imagination behind it that matters.

  • xego

    Don’t think this will ever happen so I am not worried about it. I think this would go against Sorsesse’s preservationist tendencies.

  • Whatever Scorsese does I completely trust…It’s like telling God he can’t re-create man…I would never do that and neither should you!


  • henry krinkle

    I would spit in Lars von Trier’s face if he remade this.