The final scene in Taxi driver where robert dinero's character, (Travis Bickle) infiltrates the prostitute's home is the culmination of the drastic mental and physical change that Travis undergoes throughout the movie. His disdain for the seedy underbelly of New York City finally formulates into something real. By saving the prostitute Iris from the lifestyle she lives, he is doing the good deed he always wanted to do. When he speaks to Iris face to face for the first time the realization of what he is meant to do is fortified. While Travis' mental state seems to be extremely unstable for most of the film he channels his good intentions into helping her, and by the end of the movie he does help her.
The scene starts out with a close up of Travis driving his cab at night, the close up shows how deranged and anxious he looks as he is speeding down the road. From there the scene switches to a medium long shot focusing on Travis and Sport, (Iris' pimp) standing on a stoop, the street is mostly deserted. Once Travis fires on Sport the only thing heard are dogs barking, showing that the street is in a desolate area. As Travis enters the building the camera is at a low angle shot, but from behind. This could be depicting the power that Travis has at the moment but the uncertainty of the situation he is about to bring himself into. The doorman in the hallway of the building always seems to appear out of the darkness, giving him rat like characteristics. When Travis fires on him, the camera quickly cuts in three shots moving closer and closer up the stairs to Iris's door. The camera finally reaches Iris showing a surprised expression on her face. These quick cuts, each progressing forward represent the reverberation of the sound of the gunshot, and how far it carries. After this point it seems that everything starts to move in slow motion, most likely representing the state of mind that Travis is in during this killing spree. The way that time is drawn out makes every gun shot more personal. The way the hallway is shaped 111108also makes the gunshots reverberate even more giving a more bone chilling effect. Travis' personality is shown further more by the way that he stays absolutely quiet even when getting shot. This little insight into Travis also helps the audience connect to the shellshocked vietnam veteran aspect of the character. Amidst all the confusion and destruction, Travis stays almost completely docile, as if killing the people around him means nothing whatsoever. The bout is finally over when Travis kills the last thug while sitting on his knees, shooting him in the face showing no remorse whatsoever. All is now quiet besides the sickening sound of blood dripping and the whimpers of Iris as she is curled up into a ball in the corner. There is now an akward silence, which seems like a moment of realization for Travis. The adrenaline has worn off and he is finally coming to terms with reality again. Travis makes it clear that his intentions were to commit suicide, but has run out of bullets. Once again this gives insight into Travis' self destructive tendencies. The fact that Travis is on his knees seems to signify the fact that he has given up, and is ready to die. There is a close up of Travis' face as his head falls back. Travis lies back onto the couch appearing to be dead. The camera then switches to a aerial view shot of the room. Music starts for the first time since the beginning of the scene, creating a shift in the mood of the scene. What was at first a chilling scene of violence, now transforms into a bittersweet reflections of the event that just happened. The camera follows the path that travis took to get to Iris's room from end to beginning. These shots show all the carnage that Travis inflicted on the thugs in the building. The hallway is strewn with bodies and covered with blood, once again reminiscent to what Travis may have seen during his time in Vietnam. Finally the camera reaches outside, showing a huge amount of people standing around the street waiting what happened. This shot helps break the dreamlike state that the shootout scene created, by bringing the audience back into reality in the streets below. Also the street that was once desolate and completely quiet is now filled with people, changing the mood furthermore.
The mise en scene is extremely important in this scene. The desolate street and shoddy building really capture the way New York City was during the time period that the movie takes place. The choices of camera angles help depict just how little space is in the area, and make the close quarters gun fight more intense. The filth and grime help to add to Travis' frustrations throughout the movie setting up his character for the massacre in the final scene. There is very little color in the scene, and everything has a sepia tone to it. There is also very low lighting in this scene, giving it a more eerie feel. This helps accentuate how dirty everything is, and the environment of the apartment. The fact that there is no music throughout the scene makes it more frightening. The silence is frightening, creating an element of suspense for the viewer. Every gunshot's sound is extremely exaggerated. The sounds of flesh being destroyed and blood dripping is prominent throughout the scene. Most of the scene. Every gunshot is reverberated throughout the hallway making them sound like huge crashing noises. This is mostly from the way that the hallway is shaped, and how small it is.
The funny thing about this scene is that all Travis really is is a shellshocked vietnam vet, who could snap at any moment and kill someone. For whatever reason however, he decides to channel his craziness into saving Iris. Directly before this scene occurs, Travis almost kills a presidential candidate. So then in the massacre scene, Travis is using all his pent up negative energy to do good one last time before dying. I'm not entirely sure if the movie has any sort of morale. If anything the message is that no matter how unstable a person is they can do good, but that does not make them a hero, as they could go ballistic at any moment.