Trainspotting begins with a truly
unforgettable sequence of two young men running down
a street while trying to avoid the pursuit of security guards chasing
them. The pair had stolen some merchandise to try and pay for their
What was the drug they were running towards (metaphorically)? Heroin.
names are Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewen Bremner). Iggy Pop's
rock anthem "Lust for Life" blasts over the on-screen sequence. Narration by Renton provides interesting
insight into the character at the beginning of the film. The way Renton
it: why should he choose to live his life when he can instead do drugs?
on a group of drug-users - heroin addicts - who are dissatisfied with
surroundings and unsure of what to do with their lives. To some the
to represent meaning for their lives, and to others it seems to
attempt to escape from meaning. The film follows the escapades of these
and misguided young men as they struggle with their drug addiction.
some of the characters decide to try and quit their destructive
actually live. But before they can
get to that point they face overdose, strange encounters, delusions,
crazy plan that involves selling heroin for a huge profit. Along the
mind-trip that is Trainspotting these
characters must learn how to face their realities if they can.
the best film made by Danny Boyle. Boyle is an undeniably gifted
artist who constantly manages to amaze through his remarkable ability
out one great film after another. He is always innovative in his
techniques and he is an unafraid artist who is willing to tell stories
other film-makers would often shy away from telling. Boyle has a great
eye and he is always capable of coming up with interesting ways to tell
stories story visually. Trainspotting
has a lightning quick pace at times but it still remembers to slow down
needs to. The framing is always amazing and there are many moments that
remind viewers of paintings in their specific visual complexity.
The screenplay by John Hodge is a remarkable one
brilliantly adapts the novel by Irvine Welsh. Hodge wisely remembers
is a completely different medium and that not every element of Irvine
novel could be carried over into the cinematic world. Instead, the
captures essential elements and delves into focusing in on certain
thus wisely makes Renton (Ewan McGregor) the lead protagonist.
The performances help to carry the film's heavy
weights. Ewan McGregor delivers one of his very finest performances.
Miller (Sick Boy), Ewen Bremner (Spud), Robert Carlyle (Begbie), and
Macdonald (Diane) also contribute memorable performances in roles that
impossible to ignore. Trainspotting
manages to be an ensemble work unlike most others and the casting
made a large impact on the effectiveness of the film.
One element of the film that stands out as
unforgettable is the eclectic mix of music used as the soundtrack to
There is an incredible selection of rock, techno, pop, and classical
in creative ways to emphasis different element of the actual story and
more emotion and meaning to many sequences. With songs by artists like
Pop, Brian Eno, Primal Scream, New Order, Blur, Lou Reed, Underworld,
Albarn (contributing new music) it's hard to go wrong musically. In
way the music is used in the film and as a standalone selection of
songs, Trainspotting turned out to have one of
the finest film soundtracks of the 1990's.
There is one truly great misconception about Trainspotting that always manages to amaze
me: the fact that some have considered
the film a glorification of drugs. This couldn't be farther from the
film presents drugs as bringing some kind of euphoric high for these
addicts, true, but then it goes on to
display just how much it damages every other element of the characters
It's hard to imagine anyone watching the film and thinking after the
experience, "I hope to use drugs now. Drugs look fun!" Rather, Trainspotting presents a sense of
realism through its surreal filmmaking approach and should actually
many viewers to reconsider ever using drugs.
This is a film about drug
addicts. That is the surface level of the story. It does run much
that (as it truly tries to examine the effects of the drug addiction on
characters), but that isn't really what the point
of the film is at all. Its message is one of the worth of the
most especially Renton, but of each of the other characters in this
well. These characters aren't terrible people: far from it. These
made dramatic and life-altering mistakes by using Heroin, becoming
for allowing themselves to go down a path of despair and destruction by
continuing to make wrong choices. Yet there is still hope in the future
can be hope. Everyone makes mistakes
- some make mistakes significantly larger than others, but everyone is capable of looking towards a better and
brighter future if mistakes are learned from. Trainspotting
surprises expectations by being a daring film about
how the worth of the characters lives (who are
heroin addicts) is of the upmost importance and how the wrong decisions
destructive to their lives but not remove their ability or capacity to
In the end, at least one of these characters decides to move beyond
mistakes and to focus on living life to its fullest. Without the drugs.
the pain and despair. With hope and courage. Choose life,
on Blu-ray in 1080p High Definition. The
transfer preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The
used for this new Blu-ray release seems to be the same source used for
previous Collector's Edition DVD. The image is clean for the most part
specks of dirt do occasionally show up). Colors are notably improved
contrast is impressive. The image isn't the sharpest image available in
Definition but it is significantly sharper and better defined that any
editions (including the Canadian Alliance Blu-ray release) of this
is also a greater sense of depth to the image and that is certainly
appreciable. Owners of the DVD will want to consider upgrading and
has yet to purchase the film shouldn't have to worry about the
quality. It's a thoroughly nice release.
images featured in this review are from
the DVD release and do not represent the High Definition Blu-ray
is presented with an impressive DTS-HD
Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track that matches the stellar video
presentation. The dialogue is easy to hear (and I would say
understand but some people have a problem with the thick
accents). Not to worry: while the film is presented in English (as it
be) the dubbed version that toned down the accents and that was made
at one point is not included on this release. Optional subtitles are
in English, Spanish, and in English for the deaf and hearing impaired.
thing about hearing the lossless audio may very well be the phenomenal
It does sound better than ever.
Blu-ray release is packed to the brim with
excellent supplemental materials and all of the amazing supplements
the Collector's Edition DVD are ported over. Nothing new has been added
(besides a Digital Copy). Each bonus feature is presented in
first supplement is an audio commentary
by Danny Boyle, Andrew MacDonald, John Hodge, and Ewan McGregor. It
an excellent listening experience for fans of the film.
Retrospective is broken down into several informative key sections
(unfortunately, there is no 'play all' option).
the Film: Then
(4:02) / Now (3:14)
segments give some thoughtful insight into the
visual qualities of the film through use of some interesting
features do seem a bit short but are worth a watch.
the Film: Then
(7:42) / Now (4:51)
features cover the sound design and music used
in the film. The best part was getting to hear Danny Boyle explain
sound-mixing process and the significance of finding the right songs to
each scene (when the opening of the film is shown briefly with a much
solemn sounding piece the entire mood is changed). This extra is
those curious about the music aspect of Trainspotting.
Origins: Irvine Welsh (4:37), John Hodge (7:53), Danny
Boyle (14:32), Andrew MacDonald (10:33)>
interview provides a great deal of insight into
the film. Irvine Welsh (the author of the novel) discusses how the
made to cinema and shares some thoughts about the adaptation. John
screenwriter, discusses his process and how he found it to be a
more manageable process than writing his own original screenplay (which
for Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave). It
was fascinating to hear him share his thoughts on how he approached
the novel (but perhaps the coolest part was finding out that he was a
before becoming a screenwriter - something that he always
wanted to be). Danny
Boyle gives the most detailed and thorough interview (it was also the
of the interviews). Boyle talks about how he first read the novel and
he wanted to turn it into a film and why. He describes his approach to
story. Any fan of Danny Boyle as a director will find this an
entertaining interview. Lastly, Andrew MacDonald gives an insightful
the production standpoint of creating the film and the challenges found
a story like Trainspotting and making
it stand out for audiences.
the Needle - Angle
1 (6:23), Angle 2 (6:23), and Angle
extra demonstrates three different viewpoints
of a scene being filmed: Director Danny Boyle watching the scene being
on a screen, the actual footage, and a split-screen comparison between
first two angles.
Athletic Boys (:32) -
A short featurette about the sports team from
the beginning of the film.
Making of Trainspotting (9:32)
- This feature isn't comprehensive as a making of as it consists
of more interviews discussing the film and characters than the work
This standard piece does contain some interesting interviews though and
a good enough job of emphasizing some of the strengths of the film.
Scenes (with optional
#24 (:56), #31 (:35), #32 (1:24), #73
(:58), #142 (1:22), #143 (2:25), #188 (1:18), #191 (:54), and Montage
(:52). These are certainly worth checking out for anyone who wants to
better understand the editing process and how it can affect things for
Each of these scenes has something worthwhile to offer and yet it is
clear why they were cut from the final film.
Landau (:54), Noel Gallagher (2:12),
Damon Albarn (1:05), Ewan McGregor (:47), Cannes
interviews are obviously quite short. Each
interview was taken from the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Trainspotting. Having said that -- these
are entertaining interviews and they are each worth watching to hear
thoughts that relate to the film on one level or another.
- This is a video collection of snapshots that were taken during
the filming of Trainspotting.
are included for other Lionsgate
Blu-ray releases and a bookmarks feature allows viewers to
of the best and most important films made
during the 1990's. It was electrifying for audiences worldwide, it
change some of the scope of possibilities found in British cinema, and
an incredible story in a way that few expected. Director Danny Boyle
became well known and nothing has been quite the same ever since. Ewan
was phenomenal as the lead character Renton. This one is a real classic
appreciate in all of its many unique wonders. Highly
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.