definition of Wikipedia
Original UK release poster
|Directed by||Danny Boyle|
|Produced by||Andrew Macdonald|
|Screenplay by||John Hodge|
|Based on||Trainspotting by
|Narrated by||Ewan McGregor|
Jonny Lee Miller
|Music by||see below|
|Editing by||Masahiro Hirakubo|
|Studio||Channel Four Films|
|Distributed by||PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (UK)
Miramax Films (USA)
|Release date(s)||23 February 1996|
|Running time||93 minutes|
Trainspotting is a 1996 British comedy drama film directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh (who played hapless drug dealer Mikey Forrester). The movie follows a group of heroin addicts in a late 1980s economically depressed area of Edinburgh and their passage through life. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Renton, Ewen Bremner as Spud, Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy, Kevin McKidd as Tommy, Robert Carlyle as Begbie, and Kelly Macdonald as Diane.
The Academy Award-nominated screenplay, by John Hodge, was adapted from Welsh's novel. Beyond drug addiction, other concurrent themes in the film are exploration of the urban poverty and squalor in "culturally rich" Edinburgh.
The film has been ranked 10th spot by the British Film Institute (BFI) in its list of Top 100 British films of all time. In 2004 the film was voted the best Scottish film of all time in a general public poll.
The film begins with Mark Renton's (Ewan McGregor) narration as he and his friend Spud (Ewen Bremner) run down Princes Street pursued by security guards. Renton states that unlike people who "choose life" (children, financial stability and material possessions) he has chosen to live as a heroin addict. Renton's close circle of football enthusiast friends are introduced: amoral con artist Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), clean-cut athlete Tommy (Kevin McKidd), simpleminded, good-natured Spud (Ewen Bremner), and violent sociopath Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Sick Boy, Spud and Renton are all heroin addicts and spend their time shooting up at the flat of their drug dealer "Mother Superior" Swanney (Peter Mullan).
One day, Renton decides to quit heroin. Realizing he needs one last high he buys opium rectal suppositories from Mikey Forrester (Irvine Welsh). After this final hit (and a violent spell of diarrhea) he locks himself into a cheap hotel room to endure withdrawal. He later goes with his friends to a club, finding that his sex drive has returned and eventually leaves with a young woman named Diane (Kelly MacDonald). After sex Diane refuses to let him sleep in her room and he spends the night on a sofa in the hallway of the flat. In the morning he realizes that Diane is a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl and that her "flatmates" are actually her parents. Horrified, Renton tries to shake the incident but is forced to remain in touch after Diane blackmails him.
Tommy had been dumped by his girlfriend Lizzy after a chain of events initiated by Renton. Renton had stolen one of Tommy and Lizzy's personal sex tapes, hiding it in the case of a football video. Lizzy angrily believed that Tommy had returned their tape to the video store. Sick Boy, Spud and Renton decide to start using heroin again and a brokenhearted Tommy begins using as well, despite Renton's reluctance to get him started. One day the group's heroin-induced stupor at Swanney's flat is violently interrupted when Allison, their friend and fellow addict, discovers that her infant daughter Dawn has died from neglect. All are horrified and grief-stricken especially Sick Boy who is implied to be Dawn's father.
Renton and Spud are later caught stealing from a book shop and are pursued by security guards and arrested, as seen in the opening scene of the film. Due to prior convictions Spud goes to prison but Renton avoids punishment by entering a Drug Interventions Programme, where he is given methadone. Despite support from his family Renton is constantly depressed and bored with life and escapes to Swanney's flat where he nearly dies of an overdose (because of the leftover traces of methadone with an injection of heroin). Renton's parents take him home and lock him in his old bedroom so he can beat the addiction cold turkey. As Renton lies in his bed and goes through severe withdrawal symptoms, he hallucinates that he is seeing Diane having illicit intercourse with him, his friends giving him advice and Allison's dead baby crawling on the ceiling. The heroin withdrawal is inter-cut with a bizarre, imagined TV game show in which host Dale Winton asks Renton's parents questions about HIV. Renton is finally roused from his nightmares and hallucination by his parents who tell him he needs to get tested. Despite years of sharing syringes with other addicts Renton tests negative.
Clean of heroin, Renton is nevertheless bored and depressed, feeling that his life has no purpose. He visits Tommy in his now dark filthy flat. Tommy is now a full-on heroin addict and is now HIV Positive, on Diane's advice Renton moves to London and starts a job as a property letting agent. He begins to enjoy his new life of sobriety and saves up money on the side while corresponding with Diane. His happiness is again short-lived however. Begbie commits an armed robbery and arrives at Renton's London flat seeking a hiding place from the police. Sick Boy, who now sees himself as a well-connected pimp and drug pusher also shows up at Renton's doorstep. Renton's "mates" make his life miserable, stealing from him and wrecking his flat. Seeking to be rid of them, he puts them up in a property he is responsible for, which they use as a base to commit theft. They soon learn of Tommy's death from toxoplasmosis and travel back to Edinburgh for his funeral.
Back home, they meet Spud, who has been released from prison. Sick Boy suggests a profitable but dangerous heroin transaction. Sick Boy needs Renton's help to supply half of the initial £4,000. After the purchase, Renton injects a dose of heroin to test the purity. The four then sell the heroin to a dealer for £16,000. They go to a pub and celebrate, discussing possible plans for the money. As Begbie and Sick Boy leave to order another round of drinks, Renton suggests to Spud that they both steal the money, Spud is too frightened of Begbie to consider it. Renton, however believes that neither Sick Boy or Begbie deserve the cash. Early in the morning as the others sleep, Renton quietly takes the money, Spud sees him leave but does not tell the others. When Begbie awakens he destroys the hotel room in a violent rage which attracts the police, presumably leading to his arrest.
Producer Andrew Macdonald read Irvine Welsh's book on a plane in December 1993 and felt that it could be made into a film. He turned it on to director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge in February 1994. Boyle was excited by its potential to be the "most energetic film you've ever seen – about something that ultimately ends up in purgatory or worse". Hodge read it and made it his goal to "produce a screenplay which would seem to have a beginning, a middle and an end, would last 90 minutes and would convey at least some of the spirit and the content of the book". Boyle convinced Welsh to let them option the rights to his book by writing him a letter stating that Hodge and Macdonald were "the two most important Scotsmen since Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson". Welsh remembered that originally the people wanting to option his book "wanted to make a po-faced piece of social realism like Christiane F or The Basketball Diaries". He was impressed that Boyle, Hodge and Macdonald wanted everyone to see the film and "not just the arthouse audience". In October 1994, Hodge, Boyle and Macdonald spent a lot of time discussing which chapters of the book would and would not translate into film. Hodge finished the first draft by December. Macdonald secured financing from Channel 4, a British television station known for funding independent films.
Pre-production began in April 1995 with Ewan McGregor cast in advance after impressing Boyle and Macdonald with his work on their previous film, Shallow Grave. According to Boyle, for the role of Renton, they wanted somebody who had the quality "Michael Caine's got in Alfie and Malcolm McDowell's got in A Clockwork Orange" – a repulsive character with charm "that makes you feel deeply ambiguous about what he's doing". McGregor shaved his head and lost 26 pounds for the film. Ewen Bremner had played Renton in the stage adaptation of Trainspotting and agreed to play the role of Spud. He said, "I felt that these characters were part of my heritage". Boyle had heard about Jonny Lee Miller playing an American in the film Hackers and was impressed when he auditioned by doing a Sean Connery accent. For the role of Begbie, Boyle thought about casting Christopher Eccleston because he resembled how the director imagined the character in the book, but decided to go a different route and asked Robert Carlyle instead. Carlyle said, "I've met loads of Begbies in my time. Wander round Glasgow on Saturday night and you've a good chance of running into Begbie". For the role of Diane, Boyle wanted an actress with no previous experience "so no-one would twig that a 19-year-old was playing the part" of a 14-year-old. The filmmakers sent flyers to nightclubs and boutiques and even approached people on the street, eventually hiring Kelly Macdonald.
McGregor read books about crack and heroin to prepare for the role. He also went to Glasgow and met people from the Calton Athletic Recovery Group, an organisation of recovering heroin addicts. He was taught how to cook up heroin with a spoon using glucose powder. McGregor considered injecting heroin to better understand the character, but eventually decided against it. Many of the book's stories and characters were dropped in order to create a cohesive movie script of adequate length. Danny Boyle had his actors prepare by making them watch older movies about rebellious youths like The Hustler, The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange. The latter film is directly homaged in the scene set in the Volcano nightclub, which is very similar to that set in the Milk Bar in Kubrick's film. Indeed, the track playing in the Volcano club is by Heaven 17, who took their name from A Clockwork Orange.
Trainspotting was shot in the summer of 1995 over seven weeks on a budget of $2.5 million with the cast and crew working out of an abandoned cigarette factory in Glasgow. Due to a lack of budget and time constraints, most scenes were done in one take which contributed to the grungy look of the film. For example, when Renton sinks into the floor after overdosing on heroin, the crew built a platform above a trap door and lowered the actor down. The scene where Renton (McGregor) dives in a toilet is a reference to Thomas Pynchon's 1973 novel Gravity's Rainbow. Although it looks thoroughly offputting, the faeces in the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene was actually made from chocolate. For the look of the film, Boyle was influenced by the colors of Francis Bacon's paintings, which represented "a sort of in-between land – part reality, part fantasy".
Macdonald worked with Miramax Films to sell the film as a British Pulp Fiction, flooding the market with postcards, posters, books, soundtrack albums, and a revamped music video for "Lust for Life" by Iggy Pop directed by Boyle.
Upon its initial release in the United States, the first 20 minutes of Trainspotting were re-edited with alternative dialogue to allow the American audience to comprehend the strong Scottish accents and slang. In addition, to ensure that the film received an R rating, Boyle trimmed two scenes: a graphic display of a syringe filled with heroin being inserted into a vein and Kelly Macdonald straddling McGregor during an orgasm. The original dialogue was later restored on the Criterion Collection laserdisc in 1997 and then on the re-release of the "Director's Cut (The Collector's Edition)" DVD in 2004.
Despite being set in Edinburgh, almost all of the film was filmed in Glasgow, apart from the opening scenes of the film which were filmed in Edinburgh, and the final scenes which were filmed in London.
Notable locations in the film include:
30 of the 50 locations used were in the then derelict Wills' Cigarette Factory on Alexandra Parade, Glasgow.
The Trainspotting soundtracks were two best-selling albums of music centred around the film. The first is a collection of songs featured in the film, while the second includes those left out from the first soundtrack and extra songs that inspired the filmmakers during production.
Trainspotting was screened at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival but was shown out of competition, according to the filmmakers, due to its subject. However, it went on to become the festival's one unqualified critical and popular hit. The film made £12 million in the domestic market and $72 million internationally. By the time it opened in North America, on 19 July 1996, the film had made more than $18 million in Britain. It initially opened in eight theaters and on its first weekend grossed $33,000 per screen. The film finally made $16.4 million in North America. Trainspotting was the highest-grossing British film of 1996, and at the time it was the fourth highest grossing British film in history.
In Britain, Trainspotting garnered almost universal praise from critics. In his review for The Guardian, Derek Malcolm gave the film credit for actually tapping into the youth subculture of the time and felt that it was "acted out with a freedom of expression that's often astonishing.". Empire magazine gave the film five out of five stars and described the film as "something Britain can be proud of and Hollywood must be afraid of. If we Brits can make movies this good about subjects this horrific, what chance does Tinseltown have?"
American film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and praised its portrayal of addicts' experiences with each other. In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, "in McGregor ... the film has an actor whose magnetism monopolizes our attention no matter what". Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Like Scorsese and Tarantino, Boyle uses pop songs as rhapsodic mood enhancers, though in his own ravey-hypnotic style. Whether he's staging a fumbly sex montage to Sleeper's version of Atomic or having Renton go cold turkey to the ominous slow build of Underworld's Dark and Long ... Trainspotting keeps us wired to the pulse of its characters' passions". In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Trainspotting doesn't have much narrative holding it together. Nor does it really have the dramatic range to cope with such wild extremes. Most of it sticks to the same moderate pitch, with entertainment value enhanced by Mr. Boyle's savvy use of wide angles, bright colors, attractively clean compositions and a dynamic pop score".
Rolling Stone's Peter Travers wrote, "the film's flash can't disguise the emptiness of these blasted lives. Trainspotting is 90 minutes of raw power that Boyle and a bang-on cast inject right into the vein". In his review for the Washington Post, Desson Howe wrote, "Without a doubt, this is the most provocative, enjoyable pop-cultural experience since Pulp Fiction". Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his review for the Chicago Reader, wrote, "Like Twister and Independence Day, this movie is a theme-park ride — though it's a much better one, basically a series of youthful thrills, spills, chills, and swerves rather than a story intended to say very much". Trainspotting has a 89% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83 metascore on Metacritic.
Its release sparked some controversy in some countries, including Britain, Australia and the United States, as to whether it promoted drug use or not. U.S. Senator Bob Dole accused it of moral depravity and glorifying drug use during the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign, although he later admitted that he had not actually seen the film. Despite the controversy, it was widely praised and received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in that year's Academy Awards. Time magazine ranked Trainspotting as the third best film of 1996.
The film had an immediate impact on popular culture. In 1999, Trainspotting was ranked in the 10th spot by the British Film Institute (BFI) in its list of Top 100 British films of all time, while in 2004 the magazine Total Film named it the fourth greatest British film of all time. The Observer polled several filmmakers and film critics who voted it the best British film in the last 25 years. In 2004, the film was voted the best Scottish film of all time by the public in a poll for The List magazine. Trainspotting has since developed a cult following. It has also been recognised as an important piece of culture and film during the 1990s British cultural tour de force known as Cool Britannia. It was featured in the documentary Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop as well.
The film title is a reference to a scene in the original book (not included in the film) where Begbie and Renton meet "an auld drunkard" who turns out to be Begbie's estranged father, in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are visiting to use as a toilet. He asks them if they are "trainspottin'."
Irvine Welsh has also stated in a Q&A that the title is a reference to people thinking trainspotting makes no sense. And he says he feels the same about heroin addicts, to non-addicts the act seems pointless. However if you take heroin, it makes absolute sense.
Some character names are alluded to in the anime Eureka Seven.
Trainspotting was nominated for three British Academy Film Awards in 1995, including John Hodge for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film and Best British Film. Hodge won in his category. Hodge also won Best Screenplay from the Evening Standard British Film Awards. The film won the Golden Space Needle (the award for Best Film) at the 1996 Seattle International Film Festival. Ewan McGregor was named Best Actor from the London Film Critics Circle, BAFTA Scotland Awards, and Empire magazine. Hodge was also nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay but failed to win.
Boyle has stated his wish to make a sequel to Trainspotting which would take place nine years after the original film, based on Irvine Welsh's sequel, Porno. He was reportedly waiting until the original actors themselves aged visibly enough to portray the same characters, ravaged by time; Boyle joked that the natural vanity of actors would make it a long wait. Ewan McGregor has stated in interviews that he would not like to make a sequel, due to his preference for being remembered for the critically acclaimed first film, and not an inferior sequel.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Trainspotting|
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