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Becky G
Becky G
April 15, 2024

Trainspotting is the best movie to ever exist


** WARNING ** Parts of this article are quite graphic and may be triggering to some. 

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“1,000 years from now there will be no guys and no girls, just wankers. Sounds great to me.” – Trainspotting

Trainspotting is a raunchy 1996 film, directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Ewan McGregor, more known as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the early Star Wars films. Trainspotting is what I believe to be the best film to ever exist, seeing as it is the highest-grossing British film in 1996. If you were to ask your parents if they have seen the film they would probably laugh and say “the movie where the guy falls into the toilet”  but it’s more than just that. Even though it’s only 90 minutes, by the end of watching it for the first time it felt like somebody drugged me and had taken one of my organs by the end. Trainspotting mixes humor and addiction into a beautiful Scottish cocktail.

The film takes place in 1996, the main character is Mark Renton, a 26-year-old who lives with his parents in Edinburgh, Scotland. The infamous, Choose Life speech, that Renton delivers in the opening scene over him running from cops. Critiquing the social norm of living a normal life, listing all that the younger generations have to aspire to a 9-5 job, and bratty children to carry your legacy. A fixed-interest mortgage repayments, sitting on your couch watching mind-numbing Spirit-crushing game shows Stuffing junk food into your mouth, Buying a dishwasher and kitchen appliances, retiring, and dying. He ends it with “But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?” Mark had suffered from addiction for 7 years. He and all of his acquaintances are addicted to heroin and the film/book follows him and his heroin addiction, being surrounded by friends who all are still addicted to heroin. The reason I like this movie so much is because even though we have modern shows like Euphoria, they don’t capture the horrors quite like Trainspotting. It’s grotesque and shocking. But with an unmatched sense of humor. 

With the ’90s heroin epidemic, people shared needles, which birthed a new epidemic. Aids, It was deadly, new, and medically neglected. One of the conflicts in the movie is navigating around the aids epidemic. One character, Tommy, is a man who didn’t do drugs. As Mark says he “only does people” and ends up trying heroin out of curiosity. The character initially embodies athleticism and ambition, poised for a promising future. However, he was influenced by peer pressure and his own curiosity about his peer’s hobbies. Resulting in contracting AIDS and succumbing to toxoplasmosis in a short time span, unlike his friends who inject daily without developing the disease. You see the decline of Tommy throughout the movie, from a normal sober dude to answering the door looking half dead, to his funeral. This film showed insight into aids at a time when it was still known as the “homosexual disease” and when the government didn’t care about developing a cure or vaccine. 

The book is quite foul, they took out a lot from the movie for the viewer’s sake. **TRIGGER WARNING** I am glad I didn’t have to watch Mark screw a severely pregnant American woman at his own friend’s funeral or hear about what OTHER veins he could find to put a needle in. The book is in Scottish, which I don’t know if it’s a real language but reading it needed some decoding. The books and all sequels are written the way Scottish people speak. You can see Irvine Welsh’s image of the storyline. And how Danny Boyle interpreted it for a movie.

It’s not just a good movie in a storyline way, the music and wardrobe are also exquisite. Renton dresses like it’s a decade earlier cause that is when he stopped caring about societal norms paralleling his addiction. His cropped hair and bomber jacket are definitely adopted from the English skinhead movement, but instead of boots and braces, he has burgundy super sambas. His style separates him from his hipster addict friends and gives him his tough persona. Sick boy dresses quite classy to attract ladies, in suits and shades. Spud dresses like a total bum hipster even in court. Begbie dresses like he has golf with the boys at 5 and dinner with a 21-year-old at 7. But they all have the image of certain hollow looser-ness radiated through their clothes. The stylistic choice is simple and sad, As Dazed Digital explains it “Trainspotting captures the bleakness of addiction through its brutalist exteriors, and filthy, smoke-filled interiors. The whole idea is that surroundings, clothes, and material possessions were pushed aside in favor of spending all income on heroin.” The soundtrack consists of all 80s hits or weird club music, but it somehow makes sense over the scenes. Danny Boyle had a lot of artistic scenes too, thereis a scene where Mark overdoses and literally sinks 3 feet down into the red carpet of the room and is stuck there until he is shocked awake.

Spoiler alert, at the end. Mark is dragged along to a big drug deal in London with his friend and he ends up taking all the money in a duffle and leaving. From the movie; “Now I’ve justified this to myself in all sorts of ways. It wasn’t a big deal, just a minor betrayal. Or we’d outgrown each other, you know, that sort of thing. But let’s face it, I ripped them off.” 21 years later a sequel was made, following the plot of Mark coming back and revisiting his past and reviving the cycle of addiction, he gets sucked back into his old life. It’s like a high school reunion of junkies but this time the love interest is a hot Bulgarian girl. The sequel is just as good as the first movie and I can’t say that about a lot of sequels. The only difference is there is a different vibe with the clothes and set, as it is more modern and people had stopped smoking indoors by the 2000s so it wasn’t as grimy. 

Maybe I’m just a nerd with a weird connection to this movie, my friend who loves Wes Anderson and never shut up about Fight Club said it was a stupid movie with bad pacing. But what does he know? I think it’s the best movie ever and you should watch it.  

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About the Contributor
Molly Graham, Writer
Molly Graham is a sophomore whose interests include; ugly cars, welding, fireworks, punk shows, nature and boxing. I can play banjo and am in a band called civil disobedience.

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