Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
Trainspotting (1996) | Directed by: Danny Boyle | Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle
Created & Written by: Ben Steiner & Jared Bauer
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Trainspotting Through Alien Eyes
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Trainspotting, directed by Academy Award-winning biped Danny Boyle. Released in 1996, Trainspotting is a prequel to The Trainspotter, starring Jason Statham.
The film tells the story of Mark Renton, a human with a fondness for an Earth poison called heroin. He also has a fondness for schoolgirls, a sentiment shared by Earth’s entire male population. Soon Renton’s poison use gets him in over his proverbial head, so his parents put him on time-out to think about what he’s done.
Once clean, Renton moves to London, England and gets a big boy job. And just when he thinks life can’t get any better, it doesn’t. It gets worse. His friend Tommy dies from exposure to cat poop, and the rest of the gang mourns him the only way they know how: by becoming drug dealers. The deal is a success, but Renton decides it might be fun to double-cross his buddies, so he does. And it is.
Trainspotting is a movie about drug use, but unlike many human films, it doesn’t unilaterally condemn drug use. The toilet scene is the thematic focal point of the film, as well as the thematic fecal point of the film [mimes swishing a basketball]. Renton fishing the opium suppositories out of the toilet is representative of the grotesque, degrading, and dehumanizing effects of heroin addiction. But once submerged, he is exposed to the other side of drug use: serenity, beauty, and nirvana. Also, he kind of looks like the baby from that Nirvana album.
And speaking of albums, our heroes are often staged as if they were on an album cover, highlighting the so- called “rock and roll” side of drug addiction [the guys doing an Abbey Road allusion]. Later, when Renton overdoses, the scene is scored by Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” a song about a pretty good day. In an ironic twist, Renton is actually having a pretty bad day [shot of being dragged through the streets]. Heroin can make you feel like a rock star, but it can also turn you into human garbage.
The film deals with addiction, but if you thought it was just drug addiction, guess again dummy. Human life was full of addicting stimulants: drugs such as speed, food, and whooping some ass.
Another human addiction was what they called “sex,” or the act of reproduction minus the reproduction. Frankly, it’s a miracle their species lasted as long as it did. In this montage, we see Renton and his friends pursuing sex with reckless abandon. But as with heroin, there is a major comedown. Renton finds out Diane is underage. Tommy and Lizzy realize their sex tape is missing. And Spud appears to have slimed himself, which we all know means he’s ready to shed his skin.
The film also treats friendship like an addiction. Just when Renton is getting his life together, Begbie and Sick Boy invade his home, interfere with his work, and suck up his life savings, just like an unhealthy drug habit. Or your in- laws. Renton even talks about friendship like a drug experience.
“And just for a moment it felt really great. Like we were all in it together, like friends.
Like it meant something. A moment like that can touch you deep inside. But it doesn’t last long.”
In the end, Renton decides to kick his drug and “friend” habits and “choose life.” But is he being genuine? His face is completely out of focus as he talks about looking forward to a “big fu**ing television,” which is odd, because movies are usually shot in focus. And as he says on the bus, there are final hits and there are final hits. Kind of like how Michael Jordan kept retiring, then coming back every time there was a Space Jam.
The word “trainspotting” means being obsessed with a trivial topic — like Sick Boy is with James Bond, or like Earth’s culture was with the website Bing. But trainspotting also refers to a common pastime in Europe — counting the trains as they pass. Perhaps “choosing life” is really just fixating on superficial things. Or maybe life is just a series of transient “hits” that allow us to pass the time. I should note that a train is like a starship, but way shittier.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. For more information about heroin, click the subscribe button.