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Nnenne Ogbonnaya

Jan 29 2018

International Film

Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting is allegedly shooting up heroin or the likes of or the act of watching and

spotting trains for a hobby, this ironic tittle for a movie about burn outs in living in hell during

one the worst economic seasons in U.K. history left to do nothing but get high and live life. All

throughout the movie I felt I was watching a really edgy public service announcement about not

shooting up. Trainspotting (1996) was a dirty drug trip that confused me more than satisfying

me. Seasoned director Danny Boyle showed the sad and grey world of United Kingdoms in the

90’s for what it had been and how it affected people lives. With nothing much to do but get high

and get drunk, the audience is shown these characters’ struggles and obstacles during one of the

ugliest recensions and governmental shifts the U.K. has seen.

I did like the downfall of the protagonist, Rent, and how he would get off and on drugs

throughout the film and how the plot moved along his inability to keep sober for more than a

certain period of time. He was a terrible friend surrounded by even more terrible friends, nobody

was goo anyone and but I still felt if anyone was to win it had to be Rent because and I have no

idea why I felt like this. Something about him was not entirely malleolus but he definitely was

not the hero, he successfully killed his close friend by small one action that domino effect into a

bigger issue of supporting his using. That was surprising element of the movie, no one to root

for, no one to care for, none of them cared for what they did and no one cared about anyone. I

felt like that was a great move on the director and that I can appreciate. The sequences of events

leading up to the end of the movie were creativity done and amazing for its time in terms of
editing and dialogue/character interactions. It felt like the perfect movie to show Scotland

specifically in that time and how terrible everyone looked and felt about their current situation, I

have seen something like this come out from the U.K. before but nothing ever this early in this


According to sites such as the Economist.com in the mid-1990s political parties were not

seeing eye to eye and this effected the job market drastically. Jobs were far and few and

education was sought out less. Why this was period to show this intense drug fever is interesting

and actually perfect for Boyle to do, this was the time that did not feel like the 90s and more like

the 80s of dirty gritty drug usage and profanity and party life but with a lot of electric music and

spiky hair. Michael Deacon from the Telegraph.co.uk describes the 90s as The Diamond Decade,

where the queen reign for a fifth decade, snobs were being born to distinguish themselves form

others and it seemed like the time of irony, nobody took this time period serious. This tells a lot

because the director I felt took this idea and ran with it with the film. The music was louder and

punchier, the jobs were virtually nonexistent and the drugs were ramped. Scotland was in

shambles and this is a direct effect to the all of the U.K. not being all together. This is shown

throughout the film, the idea that Scotland was the bottom of bottom, how the city is lit and

shown the rant Rent goes on when the boys are taken to the mountains for a brief hike, the

juxtaposition from Scotland and London. London is bright and busy and the color seemed to

come back on screen, I noticed this briefly but thought it was because of geography locations or

weather. The locations in Scotland seemed glim, the camera panned more down. This is telling

because Scottish cinema has been trapped under Tartanry and Kailyard, ahistorical elements of

Scottish culture typically depicted to describe Scottish culture for centuries. Removing one’s self

from these monolithic and regressive tropes surrounding Scottish, gives directors like Danny
Boyle to evolve the cinema (Petrie et. al.). These versions of Scottish people break from the

famous mountains and lust greens to angry drunks and small rural wisecrackers who live real

lives audience can relate to, this is fairly new in Scottish cinema and Trainspotting was one of

the productions that led to contributions to new cinematic world of Scotland.

Petrie, D. (2005). Scottish cinema: introduction. Screen, 46(2), 213-216.