Trainspotting burst into cinemas in 1996, shocking and amusing audiences in almost equal measure. It went on to gain both critical and commercial success, and has since gained an impressive cinematic legacy, consistently ranking highly in various “Top Fifty British Films” lists alongside its many quotable lines. A sequel is in the works with a late 2016 or early 2017 release date in mind, with filming having already started just last month. The question is of course, should we be wanting to crawl back into our cave of classics upon hearing this news, amidst a seemingly endless wave of sequels and reboots, or is there real potential here?
The good news is that director Danny Boyle is back at the helm…
Perhaps – not least because Trainspotting was and is fantastic. But what’s particularly striking about the original is just how unique it is. Moments of hilarity, depravity and pathos were done in new and exciting ways, and the performances and soundtrack add an extra sheen of quality. Trainspotting has an unlikely charm to it, and the central issue many will have about the announcement of a sequel is a ruination of this charm – a stepping on its legacy, if you will.
The good news is that director Danny Boyle is back at the helm, and all of the original cast members are back for what seems to be the right reasons, i.e. not purely financial ones. This cast includes Ewan McGregor as Renton, Ewen Bremner as Spud, Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy, Robert Carlyle as Begbie and Irvine Welsh himself as dealer Mikey Forrester. Irvine Welsh of course, the author of the original book, Trainspotting. In 2014, Welsh confirmed that he had been in talks with Boyle and the creative team behind the original film to get the ball rolling on a sequel, stating, “We’re not interested in doing something that will trash the legacy of Trainspotting. We want to do something that’s very fresh and contemporary”.
This is reassuring to say the least, and implies that it will be less of a ‘Trainspotting 2: We’re Doing This For The Money And You Can Totally Tell’ and more of a 10 Cloverfield Lane type enterprise. The rumours of the film’s plot also seem to support this claim – many have focused their sights on the narrative being a loose adaptation of Welsh’s own Trainspotting sequel, the novel Porno. As such, it seems it could be far more of an adaptation of a separate book than a sequel to the original film, but just with the same characters. A ‘loose sequel’ of sorts. This decision seems to have been the right creative choice to have made, so let’s just hope that they can back up this potential – it might not be the classic that the original novel and film were, but there’s a lot to Porno that a great director like Boyle could do wonders with.
Trainspotting had shock value, and was all the better for it. How can a sequel recapture that shock?
However, there is unsurprisingly a lot of scepticism about this news. Fans will ask: ‘How can it ever recapture the magic of the original?’ Not that it should devote itself to reminding audiences of just how great the original was- which is sadly a trend in modern sequels and remakes. Trainspotting had shock value, and was all the better for it – the baby scene and Renton’s ‘morning realisation’ to name but two. However hard the sequel may try to replicate this, audiences will know and expect the same grimy, nihilist aesthetic and plot points, ultimately rendering the new ones pointless or ineffective. Unless, of course, the film has moments that really have a resonance with audiences beyond this – like the toilet scene from the original, for example.
Nonetheless, whether we think it’s a good idea or not, it’s happening. Boyle and McGregor seem to have resolved their differences, which could go either way when they’re both actually back on set together, but given their undeniable cinematic marriage in the original film there’s obviously great potential there. Likewise the plot has potential, and is conveniently set years after the original novel, as the new film will be in both a narrative sense and given its release date. However, if the film does fall down, this could well be its biggest flaw – no less than twenty years after the original’s release (longer if it’s a 2017 release) – it could be sent away almost immediately to live with the other recent terrible sequels and remakes that have forced themselves into our cinemas for seemingly no other reason than to squeeze just a little more money out of dying, dead, or complete stories and franchises. If the Trainspotting sequel does this though, it will also be seen as a massive waste of potential and talent. Please don’t let this be the case. We’re counting on you, Danny Boyle!
By Oliver Rowe
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