The Taxi Driver Film Analysis: Seeking Freedom Amidst Despair

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Recently I’ve watched “the taxi driver”. It is a movie about the popular uprising in 1980 in Gwangju against the authoritarian regime. The film is based on the real story of a German journalist, who secretly came to a city cut off from the outside world in order to tell the truth about those terrible events. The main character is a simple Seoul taxi driver who agrees to take the foreigner to Gwangju not expecting that he’ll have to face a near death experience.

I think the director uses the events in Gwangju as a concrete example of the system of suppression of personality and society by the government that has existed in Korea for many years. The protagonist doesn’t have to choose whether to remain passive and tolerate the authorities, or to actively deal with it: the problem is quite different.

The taxi driver doesn’t have a political position and doesn’t acquire it during the film; he just wants to do “right” according to his own moral precepts. And if at the beginning of the film the driver’s motivation is taking care of his daughter, by the end we can see a new factor – the need to help people who are in mortal danger. And this moral conflict has much more difficult solution.

I would divide this film into two parts. The action begins lightly and vigorously and even has some comic moments. The political situation here is only a reason for jokes for the character. Later the story darkens and the taxi driver becomes more involved in the tragic events. Eventually the main character realizes how important the moment for the country’s future is.

This movie deeply affected me because five years ago similar events had happened in my country. Our people were completely dissatisfied with the government and students started a peaceful protest. The situation escalated after the violent dispersal of protesters, leading to many more protesters joining and eventually the revolution begun. Huge amount of innocent people was killed by soldiers and unknown shooters.

Summing up, this film was quite hard for me to watch, although I still liked it a lot. It tells about people fighting for freedom, for their voices to be heard; it tells about personal growth and people’s strength in the moments of despair. Speaking of production part I want to mention that the main actor, Son Kan Ho, did an amazing job; his character is truly likable and lively one, which makes the viewer empathize with him. Secondly, the creators have done serious work to recreate the ‘material world’ in 1980. I appreciate this chance to look at the Korean life of 40 years ago. And, of course, the fact that the plot is based on the memoirs of Jürgen Hinzpeter adds some ‘points’ to the movie.

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