Trainspotting at 25: How it shook up Edinburgh, took the world by storm and transformed the film industry

It was the box-office smash that turned a Scottish literary sensation into one of the most iconic British movies of all-time.

A quarter of a century after Trainspotting arrived in cinemas, its influence is still strongly felt, from the streets of Leith to Scotland’s film festivals. It is still regularly voted one of the best British films of all-time.

Released during a mid-1990s golden age for Scottish cinema, just months after Braveheart, Trainspotting was unlike anything that had been seen on screen before.

Launched with multiple premieres on the one night in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and a star-studded party in Cannes, its impact on Scottish culture has certainly not been surpassed since.

Although it will forever be linked to the Cool Britannia era of mid-1990s culture in the UK – partly thanks to the presence of Britpop bands like Pulp, Blur, Elastica and Sleeper on its soundtrack – its origins were in the late 1980s and early 1990s underground rave and publishing scenes in Edinburgh.

Leith-born Irvine Welsh drew on his experiences of being brought up in the Muirhouse estate for Trainspotting, extracts of which were published in the magazine Rebel Inc, before the book was released to critical acclaim and huge word-of-mouth buzz in 1993.

Less than two years later, an Edinburgh-set thriller, Shallow Grave, announced the arrival of new British director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, screenwriter John Hodge and Scottish star Ewan McGregor. All four were to reunite for Trainspotting, along Ewen Bremner, who had starred in the stage adaptation of Welsh’s book, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle and Kelly Macdonald, a total newcomer who had an answered an advert for a open casting session. The success of the book and Shallow Grave, combined with a striking poster campaign, meant expectations were sky high.

Allan Hunter, film critic and co-director of the Glasgow Film Festival, recalled: “Trainspotting felt like an explosion of fireworks on a dull grey sky when it arrived.

“Danny Boyle’s bravura direction brings such energy and drive to the story. It made British films (and Scottish films) seem cool. The marketing was so slick and unforgettable. It became the film that everyone wanted to be associated with.

“It really was a hurricane that blew all the cobwebs away and it became a symbol of social and political change in a country heading towards the election of Tony Blair and the giddy days of Cool Britannia.”

Filmmaker Mark Cousins, director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival from 1996-97, said: “It felt that a spotlight was put on Edinburgh.

“People knew that the city was cultured, beautiful, and a place of festivals, but we were seen as a bit Brigadoon – sleepy then bursting into life in August.

“Trainspotting was hyper, local, fizzy and surreal. It made me feel young, cinematic and dangerous.”

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HCR: U.S. Covid deaths at 500,000 and confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American | February 22

HCR
Heather Cox Richardson

Today the United States passed the heartbreaking marker of 500,000 official deaths from COVID-19. President Biden held a ceremony tonight to remember those lost, saying “On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and on their loved ones left behind. We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic.” The South Portico of the White House was illuminated with 500 candles—one for every thousand lives lost—and the president will order flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days in their memory.

And yet, there is good news on the horizon: By the end of March, Pfizer plans to ship more than 13 million vaccine doses per week to the United States; Moderna plans to deliver 100 million doses; and Johnson & Johnson expects to ship at least 20 million doses. This means that by the end of March, the United States is on track to receive 240 million doses. By mid-year, we should receive about 700 million doses, which is enough to vaccinate our entire population. By the end of the year there should be 2 billion doses for the whole world.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans, including 34% of Republicans, approve of Biden’s response to the coronavirus.

Aside from the pandemic news, there were two important developments today on the national level: a series of Supreme Court decisions and Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearings for the position of attorney general. Together, these showed quite strikingly that Trump supporters are retreating into a politics of grievance while Democrats are embracing policy and governance.

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First Look at Terence Davies’ Benediction Starring Jack Lowden

One of our greatest working directors has wrapped production on his latest film. Following 2011’s The Deep Blue Sea, 2015’s Sunset Song, and 2016’s A Quiet Passion, British director Terence Davies was set to begin shooting Benediction, about World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon, earlier this year, but the pandemic halted plans. He was able to recently resume and now the film has wrapped. Continue reading

The Bea List: 5 Top TV Shows starring Aisling Bea

Here are top 5 shows starring one of Ireland’s finest talents.

No longer a newcomer, Aisling Bea has firmly claimed her place as one of Ireland’s finest TV talents. Here’s a list of just some of the shows that will have you saying ‘Oh My God, What a Complete Legend, Aisling…’

This Way Up

As both programme creator and star, this Channel Four series earned a BAFTA win for Aisling. It’s a comedy-drama following the life of Áine, an Irish woman living in London, navigating her way through life after a breakdown. Some very poignant moments throughout, in particular between Bea and Sharon Horgan who plays her sister. Series two has been promised to us later this year, but the first series is available on Channel Four’s catch-up service 4oD. (Channel Four)

Living With Yourself

Part sci-fi, part comedy-drama, this quirky series stars Paul Rudd (AntMan, Anchorman) as a man on a quest to better himself through extremely bizarre measures. As he tries to rekindle his relationship with wife Kate, played by Bea, we witness the epic dance scene above, a definite series highlight. (Netflix)

The Fall

In the final series of this psychological thriller starring Gillian Anderson (The X Files), Aisling shows off her dramatic chops as the nurse who cares for Jamie Dornan’s serial killer Paul Spector. All series are available on-demand on the RTE Player. (Box set available on the RTE Player) 

Trivia

First broadcast in 2012, here newcomer Aisling Bea stars opposite Keith McErlean, who we know and love from Bachelor’s Walk. The acclaimed series follows the lives and relationships of a quiz team in Co. Monaghan. (Box set available on the RTE Player) 

Quiz 

Starting this Sunday night on RTÉ One, Aisling Bea plays a TV executive working on Britain’s most famous quiz show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Michael Sheen stars as the show’s host Chris Tarrant and Fleabag’s Sian Clifford stars as Diana Ingram, the woman who found herself at the heart of a cheating scandal. (RTE One, Sunday 24th January, 9:30pm)

Source: The Bea List: 5 Top TV Shows starring Aisling Bea