Trainspotting is a 1996 British film directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. The movie follows a group of heroin addicts in early 1990s economically-depressed Edinburgh and their passage through life.
The Academy Award-nominated screenplay, by John Hodge, was adapted from Welsh’s novel. It does not contain any references to the non-drug-related hobby of train spotting. The title is a reference to an episode 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’”. The title also relates to obsessive behavior (drug addicts obsess about getting their next fix just as trainspotters obsess about collecting train numbers) and to a slang term to inject heroin or “Mainline” it. Beyond drug addiction, other concurrent themes in the film are exploration of the urban poverty and squalor, in ‘culturally rich’ Edinburgh.
The film has since developed a cult following & has been ranked 10th spot by the British Film Institute (BFI) in its list of Top 100 British films of all time. It was also part of a cluster of motion pictures that some(who?) claimed glamorized the gritty lifestyle of opiate addiction to a mainstream audience and also included Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Basketball Diaries (1995). The success of these films revealed that the heroin culture, although dark and forbidden, was equally fascinating. It demonstrated that the American public hungered for glimpses into heroin’s dark and mysterious culture. The film was rated an 18 in Britain for it contains very strong language, strong violence,sex & hard drug use.
Plot: Set in Edinburgh, the film begins with a narration from Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) while he and his friend Spud run down a street pursued by security guards. Renton states that unlike people who “choose life” (a traditional family lifestyle with children and material possessions), he and his friends have opted out of ambitious pursuits, preferring to live in a blissful, meaningless heroin induced stupor. We are introduced to his friends: smooth player Sick Boy, awkward hanger on Spud, clean-cut footballer Tommy & violent sociopath Francis Begbie. Sick Boy, Spud & Renton are all heroin addicts, while Tommy and Begbie openly criticise heroin use. In the second scene, Renton decides to quit heroin. He buys opium rectal suppositories which he uses right away, but has to retrieve them from a filthy toilet when he is struck with diarrhea. After this ‘final hit’ he locks himself into a room to undergo withdrawal.
After quitting heroin, Renton still struggles. His “friendship” with Begbie is illustrated when Begbie casually throws his pint glass off a bar balcony, injuring a woman and causing a violent brawl. Renton later joins his friends and goes to a dance club in pursuit of sex. Spud gets drunk and is dragged home by his girlfriend, Gail, but when Gail tries to have sex, Spud passes out and defecates all over her bed. Tommy goes home with his girlfriend Lizzy but this results in a violent argument when they discover that a sex tape they had made of themselves has gone missing (in an earlier scene we saw Renton steal the tape). Tommy mistakenly believes he accidentally returned the video to the rental store this eventually causes Lizzy to break up with him.
The Trainspotting soundtracks were two best-selling albums of music centered 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.
* 1995: BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay: John Hodge: Won
* 1995: BAFTA Award for Best Film: Nominated
* 1995: BAFTA Award for Best British Film: Nominated
* 1996: Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay: John Hodge: Nominated
* Ewan McGregor as Mark Renton
* Ewen Bremner as Daniel “Spud” Murphy
* Jonny Lee Miller as Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson
* Robert Carlyle as Francis Begbie (aka Jonathan begbey Ogilvie)
* Kevin McKidd as Tommy MacKenzie
* Kelly Macdonald as Diane Coulston
* Peter Mullan as Swanney “Mother Superior”
* Eileen Nicholas as Mrs. Renton
* Susan Vidler as Allison
* Pauline Lynch as Lizzy
* Shirley Henderson as Gail
* Irvine Welsh as Mikey Forrester