Taxi Driver: 35th Anniversary Edition

Blu-ray restoration cleans up the mean streets of Martin Scorsese's '70s classic

Taxi Driver remains the highpoint of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro many cinematic collaborations. Which is quite something when you consider that this 1976 masterpiece had to beat out Raging Bull and Goodfellas for that particular honour.

De Niro gives an astonishing performance as Travis Bickle, a chronic insomniac and rather aimless Vietnam War veteran who gets a job driving a cab in New York in an effort to break out of his lonely existence. As he searches for his place in the world driving through the night, Travis becomes more and more repulsed by the filth that litters the streets and people who inhabit it, before deciding that somebody – namely himself – needs to clean it up.

Picture: Nothing, not even talking to the man responsible for overseeing the film’s meticulous 4K restoration could have prepared me for how absolutely astounding Taxi Driver looks on Blu-ray. Packed full of colour and detail, the AVC 1.85:1 1080p encode looks as about as clean and fresh as you could possibly imagine – yet this is not down to over-processing, but rather a long-awaited return to the film’s natural state, as evidenced by the tightly controlled grain structure evident throughout. Simply flawless.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: A large part of Taxi Driver’s success in creating its pervasive atmosphere can be put down to Bernard Herrmann’s exceptional score – and this Blu-ray’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix does the best job possible of recreating it in a home environment. While the nature of the film and the age of the source material means that the mix isn’t a dynamic as more modern titles, the 5.1 mix still does an excellent (and incredibly natural) job of positioning the audio around the soundfield and bringing the squalid New York streets to life.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: This Blu-ray takes the best extras from previous LaserDisc and DVD releases and brings them together in a truly fantastic package. The highlight for fans is undoubtedly the 1986 Criterion Collection LaserDisc commentary recorded by Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader, which never saw the light of day on any DVD incarnation of the movie. Joining this from the DVDs are individual commentaries by Schrader and film academic Robert Kolker.

The old Interactive Script to Screen mode has been given a Blu-ray update that makes it much more immediate and user friendly than it ever was on DVD. Also present is the 71min Making Taxi Driver documentary, six featurettes (running the gamut from tributes to Scorsese from his peers to an interview with the filmmaker and true-life stories from real New York cabbies), storyboard-to-film comparisons, four galleries (Bernard Herrmann Score, On Location, Publicity Materials and Scorsese at Work), the theatrical trailer, a BD-Live link and Movie IQ functionality. All of the video extras, bar the Making of… doc, are presented in HD.
Extras rating: 5/5

We say: It doesn’t get much better than this. An early contender for 2011’s Blu-ray of the Year award.

Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £20 approx, On sale now