Time for a Parental Guidance sticker again.
When you get to my age, barely a week goes by without me getting yet another reminder of just how old and decrepit I’ve become. I suppose I should be grateful; the alternative is much grimmer.
It also makes me wonder: what in today’s popular culture will be celebrated in 20 years time? The day we all saw that picture of Kim Kardashian’s arse? The moment Justin Bieber changed his haircut? The day Zayn left One Direction? (it was him that left, right?)
As if having to deal with the fact that this year it will be 30 years since The Smiths released “The Queen Is Dead” wasn’t enough for me to cope with, I now have to deal with the fact that it is twenty years since Trainspotting (the movie, not the book, that was even longer ago) was released.
For many, this was their first introduction to the genius that is Danny Boyle, the director. Personally, I was working in a video shop in Cardiff between 1994 and 1996 (I really used my degree to its full potential) so had seen, and loved, Boyle’s directorial debut, “Shallow Grave” and so was already aware of his visionary genius.
Trainspotting though took him to another level entirely.
Based on the Irvine Welsh book, it tells the story of Renton (Ewen MacGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd), their battles with addiction to heroin (Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, Tommy) or alcohol/violence (Begbie), a battle that at least one would lose (no spoilers here), and those that surviveds’ attempts to break free by engineering a drug deal which would enable their freedom once and for all.
Watching it back, there are so many iconic moments, from the opening sequence:
to Spud’s speed-fuelled interview:
to the infamous Begbie bar scene:
to the “Worst Toilet in Scotland”:
Of course, there was much hysteria in the press about this film, this squalid film, that glorified drug abuse (it doesn’t, it really, really doesn’t) and how young impressionable folks would doubtless see it and be unable to resist embarking on a downward spiral of drug abuse and ultimately death. All total bollocks, of course.
But, for me, there was one other thing about Trainspotting that got me hooked: the soundtrack. You could tell that each record that featured had been chosen, or commissioned, with great care: the breadth and depth of the movie’s soundtrack (which got released over two albums) was simply staggering, taking in established records and placing them next to newer Britpop-y tunes (it was 1996, after all) and managing to totally capture the zeitgeist (whatever that means).
This was a turning point for me: it wasn’t until I saw Trainspotting that I appreciated that dance and indie music could co-exist in my own personal musical CV. Until now, I rarely gave dance music the time of day, but such was my love of the film I simply had no choice. Particularly, this one:
Bedrock feat. KYO – For What You Dream Of
There was, of course, the odd classic cut by a Britpop band to consider as well, not least one which remains one of my favourite Pulp songs to this day:
Pulp – Mile End
And then, of course, the two songs which bookend the movie, one gaining a new lease of life from it’s inclusion, the other…well…it’s just one of the greatest era-defining records:
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Underworld – Born Slippy
Danny Boyle has gone on to bigger and brighter things: he won an Oscar in 2008 for Best Picture and Best Director (and another six) for “Slumdog Millionaire”, and orchestrated the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics (I bought the 3-DVD boxset of the Olympics, and have never watched anything other than the 1st one which contains the opening ceremony). In the run-up, I was firmly in the “we’re going to fuck this up aren’t we?” camp, didn’t even watch it live, but when I did I was entranced; it was a thing of such patriotic beauty it is one of the very few things that make me feel proud to be British.
Here it is, in all its glory:
This led (and rightly so – it is, simply, astounding) to him being offered a knighthood which he earns extra bonus cool points by declining.
News has come out over the past twelve months that work has started on “Porno”, the sequel to Trainspotting. Having read the book, I cannot wait for the day I get to queue up at the local multiplex and legitimately ask for “a single to watch Porno please”.