Adrian Utley on Taxi Driver

Bernard Herrmann is the legendary composer who created the music for Psycho, Vertigo, and Taxi Driver among others. Taxi Driver is Martin Scorsese’s award-winning drama starring Robert DeNiro as an emotionally volatile Vietman vet who works nights as a taxi driver in the sleazy, decadent underbelly of New York’s vice-fuelled streets.

Taxi Driver is the last film ever to have been scored by Herrmann, who died on Christmas Eve in 1975, and as a result the film was dedicated to his memory. The music for Taxi Driver is some of the most celebrated of Herrmann’s career, and like his other soundtracks, uses sound to signal and intensify the emotional subtext of the film and protagonists. Taxi Driver was a unique element in Herrmann’s oeuvre, in that it incorporated significant jazz influences. The music itself is moody, smouldering, and sublimely tense – a perfect complement to the sleazy, smoke-tipped nocturnal landscape of Scorsese’s New York.

In this talk, as part of Watershed's Bernard Herrmann Centenary celebrations, Portishead’s Adrian Utley and Watershed’s Head of Programme, Mark Cosgrove, consider the enormous impact of Herrmann’s last ever score as well as discussing his wider body of work. Mark and Adrian also provide a fascinating deconstruction of the score, tracing Herrmann’s possible influences as well as his musical legacy.

Adrian Utley is one third of Portishead, who are possibly best known for their Mercury award-winning debut album, Dummy. In addition to his work with Portishead, Adrian has collaborated with Watershed, Goldfrapp's Will Gregory, and Charles Hazlewood on a new score for Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. He has also produced albums for The Coral, Joe Volk, Beth Gibbons, and Kevin Flanagan.

Related Links:
On Dangerous Ground: The Cinema of Bernard Herrmann


Posted on Sun 26 June 2011.