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Published on Dec 22, 2008
Trainspotting is a 1996 Scottish 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 1990's economically-depressed Edinburgh and their passage through life.
The film stars Ewan McGregor as Mark Renton, Ewen Bremner as Spud, Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy, Kevin McKidd as Tommy, Robert Carlyle as Begbie and Kelly Macdonald as Diane. Author Irvine Welsh also has a brief appearance as hapless drug dealer Mikey Forrester.
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'" (p309, Minerva edition). 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 and 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 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.