The Criterion Collection (Spine #1204): TRAINSPOTTING -- A Pristine Restoration of an Enduring Modern Classic
By Sean Boelman
Although we tend to avoid some of the more mainstream movies as they get added to the Criterion Collection, there are a few that are absolutely irresistible. The latest in the line of Criterion Collection releases that are bringing beloved films to 4K for the first time, Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, earns its spot with what might be one of the best restorations the specialty label has ever put out.
Trainspotting follows a Scottish heroin addict who, along with his equally junkie friends, goes through the trials and tribulations of living in Edinburgh and trying to get clean — only to fall back into the same cycle. It’s one of the most unique, expressive depictions of addiction you will see, thanks to the vision of Irvine Welsh’s novel, John Hodge’s screenplay, and Boyle’s direction.
The themes of the movie still ring true today despite the film having been shot nearly 30 years ago. We might be through the particular moment the film depicts — the rampant drug use and the HIV/AIDS crisis — the messages of fighting to “choose life” and strive for redemption even at your darkest moments are still thoroughly moving.
Trainspotting will go down in history as one of the best-edited movies of all time. The amount of energy that Boyle was able to infuse into the film through both the imagery and the soundtrack (which contains everyone from Iggy Pop to Jarvis Cocker and everyone and in-between) is absolutely incredible.
However, the thing that remains most impressive about Trainspotting to this day is how well it pulls off its tonal balancing act. It’s a very funny movie, but it also has several moments that are truly unsettling and others that are genuinely moving. Many films have tried to do a similar style, but few — particularly ones about this subject matter — have succeeded.
What might be surprising is that this Criterion Collection edition of Trainspotting is the first time that the movie will be available on 4K. The restoration is gorgeous (and, of note, was supervised by Boyle from the uncut version of the film), making the movie look even crisper, surreal, and utterly terrifying.
As is the case with many of Criterion’s releases of films from the ‘90s, there’s a wealth of bonus features to be found here — mostly because there’s plenty to pull from thanks to various editions put out by the studios over the years. The only new interview on the disc is with the production designer and costume designer, but there’s plenty on the disc to justify fans of the movie upgrading or adding the new 4K to their shelves.
Trainspotting is a brilliant film that holds up extremely well, and the 4K restoration being released by Criterion will ensure that the movie continues to age like fine wine — and as a bonus, it has one of the best subtitles you will ever see. Any cinephile would be remiss not to pick up this wonderful release.
The Criterion Collection edition of Trainspotting is now available.
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