How Do the Makers of "Trainspotting" Depict British Youth Sub-culture? Essay

How Do the Makers of "Trainspotting" Depict British Youth Sub-culture? Essay

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"Poison or Pearls, Reality or Fantasy?" (Street 110): How do the makers of Trainspotting depict British youth sub-culture and what methods of filming do they use to communicate their message in the surrealist way the film is famous for?

Trainspotting (1996) is a "depiction of the squalid depravities and exploitative self interest that characterises the everyday life of heroin addiction." (Petrie 90) Its' realistic style, use of language and unflinching portrayal of drug use was what first attracted me to look at it a bit closer. Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, it tells the story of a group of working class unemployed drug addicts, focusing on their problems with heroin abuse, inability to get a job and family problems. Set in Edinburgh in the early nineties, Danny Boyle's (director) style is undoubtedly extremely realistic, fairly disgusting and at times, shocking. British realist films became popular in the late fifties, with Look Back in Anger (1959) and Room at the Top (1959). Realism was defined as "a determination to tackle `real' social issues and experiences in a manner which matched, a style which was honest and `realistic' as well" (Hill 127).

There were a many new characteristics in Trainspotting which hadn't been attempted before, one of which being showing the good side to heroin as well as the bad.

"Take yir best orgasm, multiply the feeling by twenty, and you're still fuckin miles off the pace. My dry, cracking bones are soothed and liquefied by ma beautiful heroin's tender caresses. The earth moved, and it's still moving" (Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting).

This accentuates the realism of the film, makes people horrified at the characters and their filthy habits, and really makes the viewer think that t...

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...erview. This would attain a more accurate analysis of the film, and more could be discovered from the results of others' thoughts on the film.


Barker, M. From Antz to Titanic: Reinventing Film Analysis. Pluto Press; London: 2000

Freeman, A. Studies in Scottish Fiction 1945 to the Present. Peter Lang; Frankfurt; 1996

Hill, J. Sex, Class and Realism. British Film Institute; London: 1986

Kuhn, A. ed. Journal of Popular British Cinema. Bookcraft; Bath: 1999

Lothe, J. Narrative in Film and Fiction: An Introduction. Oxford University Press; Oxford: 2000

Petrie, D. Contemporary Scottish Fictions: Film Television and the Novel. Edinburgh University Press; Edinburgh: 2004.

Spicer, A. Typical Men: The Representation of Masculinity and Popular British Cinema. Tauris; London: 2001

Street, S. British National Cinema. Routledge; London: 1997

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