Paul Schrader on the invention of “Incel” and how “Taxi Driver 2” almost happened
What made Paul Schrader one of the few writers / directors who are still successful?
It’s hard to write an amazing script. It’s harder to do. It’s even harder ever to write and finish a new one … and direct … and keep doing projects.
Schrader has done all of that, always sticking closely to the character types and human drama that interest him. Nothing bombastic. No existing IP. No sales. no taxi driver First person shooter video games.
How did he do it and thrive?
He burst onto the scene with taxi driverwho provided an iconic character in Travis Bickle who would also start the careers of movie legends Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. The three would reconnect with Jake LaMotta for yet another iconic movie and character Wild bull.
These are the types of films that have inspired filmmakers for generations. The idea of going deep under the skin of contradicting and deeply human characters who appear evil and heroic at the same time … with whom we can identify, but in some of the darkest corners of our own being. This was more or less revolutionary on the screen.
While De Niro and Scorsese have moved on together and separately to explore other genres, stories, and characters, Schrader has stayed close to that particular niche he carved out with Bickle so long ago.
He calls it a more literary tradition. It is unique in film history, but in a writer / director’s career, to return to the same type of protagonist, but in a different setting, time and profession. Schrader was there long before the word “incel” was pronounced. He saw that after Vietnam something happened to manhood. He saw something twisted affecting people tormented by self-hatred and guilt, and looking at a society they did not understand and believed they did not want.
While so many others try to emulate him, only he has managed to move these ideas over time. It’s fascinating to hear him explain how.
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