Trainspotting is a 1996 Academy Award nominated, BAFTA winning cult film directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. The movie is about a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh and their passage through life. It stars Ewan McGregor as Mark Renton, Ewen Bremner as Spud, Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy, Kevin McKidd as Tommy, Robert Carlyle as Begbie and Kelly Macdonald as Dianne. Author Irvine Welsh also has a brief appearance as hapless drug dealer Mikey Forrester.
The screenplay was adapted from Welsh’s novel by John Hodge. It does not contain any references to the non-drug-related hobby of train spotting. The title is a reference to an episode in the original book (not included in the film) where Begbie and Renton meet “an auld drunkard” in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are visiting to use as a toilet. He asks them (in a weak attempt at a joke) if they are “trainspottin'”. As they walk away, Renton realizes the drunk was Begbie’s father (p309, Minerva edition).
Its release sparked controversy in some countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, as to whether it promoted drug use or not. U.S. Senator Bob Dole decried its moral depravity and glorification of drug use during the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign, although he later admitted that he had not actually seen the film. This echoed sentiments Dole had made three years earlier, attacking Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers while lauding more mainstream films like James Cameron’s True Lies as being more “family friendly”. Despite the controversy, it was praised as an inventive, highly effective film and received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in that year’s Academy Awards. In 1999 the film came 10th in a BFI poll of British films, while in 2004 the magazine Total Film named it the 4th greatest British film of all time.