21 years ago a very black comedy drama film was released that was said to have captured what it meant to be Scottish for a generation of twenty something’s which is summed up in Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton’s famous Rannoch Moor speech:
“It's shite being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to be colonized by. We're ruled by effete arseholes. It's a shite state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world won't make any fucking difference!”
This movie could never be mistaken for anything other than a Scottish film and was adapted by John Hodges from the Irvine Welsh 1993 novel of the same name, never an easy task. Trainspotting (1996) is a starkly bleak warning about the drug culture at that time offering very little hope for the youth of Edinburgh let alone the rest of Scotland. At that time most of the rural small towns and villages were having problems with drug taking and in some instances serious addiction. You only had to glance at a local paper to see the results of drug related crime, possession and even the obituary column included the death of young people due to excess drug taking and related illnesses.
|The nightmare of drug addiction.|
Unless you have been living on a far away planet for the past twenty plus years I’m sure your quite familiar with the story which revolves around various character’s involved in or on the periphery of Edinburgh’s 1980/90’s drug scene. The main man is Mark Renton known as Rent Boy (Ewan McGregor in what I still think is his best role) an addict who tries desperately to give up his habit, the problem is he shares his life with like minded people who will do anything for a hit. There’s casual dealer Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) a natural born loser. Also involved is the psychopath and small time villain Begbie (Robert Carlyle) a man who gets his kicks from acts of violence.
Never my favourite director Danny Boyle must be given credit for what was at the time angry cutting edge cinema with a soundtrack to match that included some grand pop tunes from the 1980’s and 90’s including Iggy Pops Lust for Life, Lou Reeds Perfect Day and the Underworld anthem Born Slippy. It’s a cinematic experience that makes you bulk at the disgusting, ‘the worse toilet in Scotland’ and the ultra sad death of a baby at the same time as admiring the wit that eases out of Hodges non-judgemental script. It has a great supporting cast including Kevin McKidd, Peter Mullan, Shirley Henderson and Kelly Macdonald in her first film role. Now quite rightly regarded as one of the best British films of the nineties and certainly worth a revisit if for no other reason than to realise how the wankers are still treating the Scottish people. Hopefully the new film T2 is just as brilliant and gives us more hope?