Here is the director Martin Scorcese speaking on violence.
When I did Mean Streets I wanted to show what I thought we lived like, the Italian-Americans on the Lower East Side. Violence is a very serious thing, and when it's committed in that society. there are repercussions. A line is crossed. I'd been around some of it, and the shock was so strong that when I deal with stories where violence is an important part, I try not to show it in a pretty way, though maybe I've been guilty of that a couple of times - it's been thirty years.
Taxi Driver is about being young and disaffected. Paul Schrader wrote it and he had those feelings in him. I did too, and so did Robert De Niro. The film was something we thought we had to do because we felt it was true. We tried not to make the violence in it pretty in any way, because it's not pretty. Violence is not slow motion with people flying in the frame and flipping up in the air and turning around. It's not a video game. It's very real and ugly. Looking back at the Gulf War in '91, when we were allowed to see smart bombs in black-and-white video, I think a cleansing was beginning. It was distancing us from the extraordinary violence that was occurring.
The issue is to deal with what part of us is violent. That's something not to be shied away from in the work. There's a kind of excitement in violence, and that's part of being human. One has to deal with that. You can't deny it. Deny it and it's going to explode! Maybe I'm just an old man talking about younger people making video games where violence becomes a game. But I am concerned about the nature in which violence is now being shown, particularly in the news. It's all cleansed. It's all distanced. We don't feel a thing - we're not meant to.