Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else…

 

Written by John Hodge, based on phonetically written novel by Irvine Welsh. Directed by British hero of the moment, Danny Boyle. However, this directorial triumph may have raised eyebrows and turned stomachs if he had followed suit at the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Whilst we have seen in the past few days that Boyle has perfectly captured all that is great about Britain-he is arguably better known for his depiction of the darker sides of life. 

 

The needle goes in. The floorboards open. And Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), the epitome of heroin-chic hero of ‘Trainspotting’, drifts into the druggy oblivion that this film depicts with such dead-on symbolism and accuracy of the all-consuming impact of drugs- all to the theme tune of the sullen track, ‘Perfect Day’. He disappears into the carpet and drifts for sometime before waking in a hospital- as Mother Superior had so helpfully put him into a cab- gasping for breath and emerging from the depths of the his carpet-coffin. Deep stuff, man.

 

Danny successfully tacklesBritain, or more specificallyScotland’s, lurid drug scene in ‘Trainspotting’ with the help of his favourite actor, McGregor if you didn’t know, and a banging soundtrack of typically British tunes.

Whilst the film features gruesome scenes, for example, the cot death and the infamous ‘worst toilet inScotland’ toilet debacle, Boyle somehow manages to paint a romantic rose-tinted perspective over the true harsh realities of drug addiction, which makes it entirely watchable.

Renton, Sickboy, Spud, Begbie and co are loveable lowlifes. The audience wants to watch these men who still manage to be slick and compelling whilst battling heroin’s tyrannical rule over the human body. Everyone is looking for reasons for their behaviour, not unlike the love-hate charm that is felt for The Droogs in Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’- but as Rentonexplains, ‘there are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?’

This is perhaps why Boyle’s success and genius is often applauded and awarded. Although he often broaches difficult subjects [Slumdog Millionaire, 127 hours, Shallow Grave] he finds beauty in the grotesque and reveals the drive of the human spirit to push and find the light at the end of the tunnel, or in this case, the dirty needle, through mesmerising protagonists played by superbly cast actors.

Relatable misery for all to enjoy with the comfort of a pretty cool soundtrack- sounds like the perfect recipe for a truly British film. The film is totally nineties – it lacks in dialogue but this is outweighed by Boyle’s wide angle shots and clever imagery- cue McGregor climbing in and out of a toilet, Renton’s crazy trip when going cold turkey and the graphic depiction of injecting ‘just one more hit’.

Danny Boyle’s adaptation of ‘Trainspotting’ led the film to be critically acclaimed as one of the best British films of all time. It had an immediate impact on popular culture and is still recognised as a cultural point of reference in terms of Britpop and ‘Cool Britannia’. Boyle captures the essential, raw side of what it means to be British in his films, which undoubtedly explains why he was chosen to direct the Opening Ceremony.

Boyle did make a nod to his infamous film in the Pop heritage section of the ceremony- by showing the iconic scene of Renton running to the theme tune of Lust for Life with the cynically driven Choose Life monologue playing out- which begs the question why is a scene of a desperate and pessimistic man running, synonymous with British culture…

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.