Exciting times. Trainspotting is back! The 1996 film about the abuses of drugs and friendship (that some journalists fretted would glamourise illegal drug use) now has a sequel - Trainspotting 2
I don’t remember watching the horrific ‘dead baby’ scene, or the ‘hunt the suppository in the minging toilet’ sequence and thinking, ‘Mmmm, let me have a piece of that action.’ Nope, not for one second. Still, hindsight is a marvellous thing, and it is with hindsight that I now write about my own experience of Trainspotting, back in the day.
It was all terribly exciting, you see. It was the first time I had seen an 18-rated film at the cinema, and been eighteen. Yep, I came of cinematic age just as Trainspotting hit the screens. It marked the beginning of my adult life, and was going to be, I imagined in March 1996, the start of regular cinema trips where quality, thought provokingly edgy films would be available to me on, if not a weekly, then definitely monthly basis. Now I had turned eighteen, I mused, I would be forever batting away ground breaking dramas, and clever satires, and be spoilt for choice with the eighteen-ness of them all.
The reality of the ensuing years was obviously a little disappointing. Trainspotting was a one-off. It bottled a winning formula combining the bleakness of human experience, alongside warmly flawed characters for whom you only wanted the best. The iconic soundtrack secured its status of cool and it meant that the careers of Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor and my personal favourite, Kelly MacDonald, were given a helpful shove.
Does every generation have a film? If I turned eighteen today, would I be remembering this week’s new releases in twenty years? It’s possible, I guess. La La Land (it opened nationwide on 12th January) is supposed to be impressive. And doubtless there will be millions across the globe that cite the regular Star Wars, or Marvel output as being the film of their childhood/adolescence/lifetime. But in the search for billion-dollar box office returns, can studios take risks, cause controversy, and create something truly unique, like Trainspotting, anymore?*
I have no idea. All I can offer is an example of my own ridiculousness, to show how cinemas are doing all right, regardless. I pay about £16 a month for a ‘free’ pass to my local cinema. To break even, I know I need to watch two films every month. Reader, in the past year, I have watched one. Spotlight was a great film, but I’m not sure it was worth the £192 I forked out for the privilege. With this in mind, I will definitely be watching Trainspotting 2 when it comes out in a few weeks, if only to start clawing back what I am owed.
*Hadley Freeman brings much to this debate (mainly the humour, insight and knowledge that I lack) in the introduction of Life Moves Pretty Fast – The Lessons We Learnt From Eighties Movies and Why We Don’t Learn From Movies Anymore. Along with the rest of the book, it’s definitely worth a read.