Trainspotting turns 25: Edinburgh readers share their first reactions to groundbreaking film

“I remember leaving the cinema feeling sick.”

By Ginny Sanderson
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 10:23 am

A quarter of a century has passed since the cult classic was made, and it’s still shocking today.

Just thinking about certain moments inDanny Boyle’s Trainspotting can trigger a visceral reaction. The worst toilet in Scotland. The baby scene.

To mark its 25th birthday, we asked our readers on the Edinburgh Evening News Facebook page how they felt the very first time they saw Trainspotting. This is what they said.

"Brutal and beautiful in equal measure,” said Fiona Irving “The soundtrack is immense – went to Ibiza in 1996 and Born Slippy was epic over there!”

Curly Chez said: “It was shockingly brilliant and made me feel homesick despite the horror of it. Black comedy at its best.”

“Overall, brilliant, shocking to the core,” said Scott Davie, who said he was lucky enough to see Trainspotting at Cameo Picturehouse before its mainstream release in 1996.

A dark comedy depicting drug addiction in 1980s Edinburgh, Trainspotting has some seriously harrowing scenes which left some of our readers unable to watch to the end.

Our readers share how they felt first watching Trainspotting 25 years ago

Gail Clarke wrote: "We had to stop watching it as some of the drug scenes and especially the baby scene was really awful. I'm from Edinburgh and horrified to think this could be going on.”

Susanne Farquhar said the film made her unwell: “I was pregnant and the toilet scene was too much for me.”

But others felt Trainspotting’s unflinching portrayal of hard drug use was important.

“Ithought it was GREAT that the issues of addiction were laid bare and dragged into the mainstream,” said John Steven.

"Shocking to the core": some scenes caused disgusted viewers to walk out of cinemas

And Balazs Langi wrote: “Loved its pure reality, not Pride and Prejudice, that’s for sure.”

Reflecting on when she first saw it, Helen Green wrote: “I remember leaving the cinema feeling sick but it was a real insight into the side of the city – the drugs hell that it was back then.”

However, some of our readers brought up the fact the film is based in Edinburgh, but many of its scenes were not filmed here.

While the opening chase scene was shot in The Capital, many others were filmed in Glasgow.

Reader Colin McDougal said: "Felt disappointed by it. The film was entertaining but one thing I didn’t like was the lack of Edinburgh accents.”

And Ken Ross said:I was really disappointed the majority of it was obviously shot in Glasgow trying to masquerade as Edinburgh. I thought it lost the heart of the story by it not using more original venues, particularly Leith and Granton!”

While Rachel Hall said she was “blown away” by the film, but thought the character Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, was “too posh for a Leither”.

But it’s clear Trainspotting still has a strong fan base in Edinburgh.

Steven Monteith called it one of his all time favourite films, and Paul Lewis described it as “a brilliantly realistic and shocking film”.

Douglas McIntosh also had high praise for Trainspotting, and called it a “great antidote” to Braveheart, which came out the year before.

We’ll leave you with this quote from our reader Robert Heasley: It took me a long time to watch it but when I did there was nothing quite like it,”

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