Recognition, Alignment, Allegiance in Taxi Driver

(Photos sourced from Google)

Murray Smith uses recognition, alignment and allegiance to show how we as an audience identify with characters. He split it up into these categories to prove how in each category we take certain aspects of the film and use these to help us jump into the characters world. I am going to be looking into how the film Taxi Driver, by Martin Scorsese use these categories to help us identify with the main character Travis (Robert De Niro).
The first category is recognition; this is when the audience views the character due to their role in the story. There is a scene in Taxi Driver where Travis wants to help this girl called Iris. They are talking in a café and throughout this scene we see this exchange from their view, the angle changes back and forth when each character speaks. From this we know these are main characters, but the people in the background are not as they play no part in the particular story we are seeing, so the audience knows who to follow.
The second category is alignment; this is when we learn about the character from two functions; spatio-temporal attachment and subjective access. Spatio means how the narration in the film keeps the audience intrigued by the main characters. And subjective is an inner dialogue we can hear as an audience, that gives us details about the character from a subjective point of view. In the Taxi Driver throughout the film we can hear an inner monologue Travis is giving us, he talks to the audience about what he is thinking and feeling so we get a better point of view.

Taxi Driver (1976) Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro)
Taxi Driver (1976) Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro)

The third category is allegiance; this is when the audience can judge a character’s morals and actions based on the knowledge of their mental state that we have been given throughout the film. In Taxi Driver we have been given an in-the-head knowledge of Travis and have been shown that he is an insomniac who is becoming more and more mentally unstable. In the end, if the viewer had any doubts about Travis’s sanity, he appears with a Mohawk haircut and tries to shoot senator Palantine. From everything the viewer has seen and all the information we have been given, we can judge his morals, and his character




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