Scorsese and Von Trier to Remake ‘Taxi Driver’?

We like to think of certain cultural artifacts as being sacred, especially when it comes to cinema. Some films (so the fan’s argument goes anyway) simply shouldn’t be messed with after the fact, re-makes, sequels and spin-offs serving only to muddy the legacy of an otherwise “perfect” piece of work. A follow up to Night of the Hunter? Never! Citizen Kane Part II? Egads! Yet sometimes such projects go forward for whatever reason ($ or insanity or both), and there’s not much the faithful can do about it. The latest seemingly inviolable picture rumored—and I can’t stress the “rumored” part enough—to be getting a new gloss is none other than Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. What’s even more curious is that Scorsese is ostensibly on board.

According to the Copenhagen film magazine Ekko, Scorsese and Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier have discussed the possibility of remaking the 1976 drama. As if this weren’t surprising enough, it also alleges that Robert DeNiro, 66, would reprise his role at pycho-cabbie Travis Bickle. When pressed for comment, Von Trier’s producing partner, Peter Aalbek, would “neither confirm nor deny” or the rumor, but said that an official announcement would be forthcoming shortly.

I’m with film blogger Jeffrey Wells in thinking (or at least wanting to think) that this is pure nonsense, a story cooked up to get some attention, but you never know. Von Trier is well known for deliberately pushing audience buttons, and remaking and/or somehow mucking around with Taxi Driver doesn’t seem at all beyond him. Recall that in 2003’s The Five Obstructions, he obliged fellow Danish filmmaker Danish Jorgen Leth to repeatedly remake his 1967 short, The Perfect Human, under various cinematic contraints. I doubt Scorsese would submit to the same kind of manipulation and chicanery, but it will nevertheless prove interesting to see if there’s any truth to this re-make rumor at all. Stay tuned….