Trainspotting Essay, Research Paper
Some might say that life is defined by the choices we make. But, what if you choose your life into a meaningless existence, an existence where the only satisfaction you have is injected through the end of a hypodermic needle. Trainspotting is a British film, which ponders such an existence with a rather non-judgmental light placed upon the use of heroin. By the end, you might find a somewhat deeper meaning of life, or at least a definition of what life should not be.
Trainspotting is a dark comedy about a Scottish social degenerate, Michael Renton (Ewan McGregor), who seeks to “choose life” over a meaningless existence of continually shooting-up on heroin. His plans usually end up being set back at the hands of reality and the influence of his “so called mates” and fellow degenerates, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and Begsbie (Robert Carlyle), who seem to keep drawing him back to heroin.
These friends sleep where they can–in bars, in squats, in the beds of girls they meet at dance clubs. They have assorted girlfriends, and there is even a baby in the movie, but they are not settled in any way, and no place are home. Near the beginning of the film, Renton decides to clean up, and nails himself into a room with soup, ice cream, milk of magnesia, Valium, water, a TV set, and buckets for urine, feces, and vomit. Soon the nails have been ripped from the door jambs, but eventually Renton does detox (“I don’t feel the sickness yet but it’s in the mail, that’s for sure”), and he even goes straight for a while, taking a job in London as a rental agent.
The casual joys of drug addiction are grippingly portrayed with a combination of excellent acting, impressive camera-work and atmosphere. However, to a clear head, the absolute depths to which this group of addicts will stoop are enough to put anyone off trying heroin. Renton, and his friends, are convincingly self-centered (in the extreme), untrustworthy and trapped in the vice of their overpowering need. A nice touch is the distortion of certain sequences, mirroring the mental turmoil of the user, such as the near-fatal overdose of Renton; the walls of a grave-like opening, which is simultaneously womb-like and welcoming, move ever closer together above him.
The characters in “Trainspotting” are violent (they attack a tourist on the street) and carelessly amoral (no one, no matter how desperate, should regard a baby the way they seem to). The legends they rehearse about each other are all based on screwing up, causing pain, and taking outrageous steps to find or avoid drugs.