On Poetry and Culture Shock

Trainspotting the movie: Is it a comedy?

Trainspotting , the movie, is an excellent example of the theory that “tragedy is a slap on the face; comedy is a slap on someone else’s face”. It is a lot easier to make comedy about whatever is different from you, which means, in the case of Trainspotting, that if you have seen the effects of drugs from too up close, if you cannot see them with detachment, you might like Trainspotting, but you will not see it as a comedy. The first time I saw it, about nine years ago, the most salient thing to me was the black, weird humour. Now I still love it, but the things I really appreciate have nothing to do with the plot; they are formal aspects,  such as the cinematography and the editing. I also enjoy precisely what makes the movie closer to me, what I can relate to (and that goes well beyond comedy): the accents, and the places that I know.

By the way, the film was shot on location in several different Scottish towns, which means that in the now classic “Lust for Life”, Renton-chased-by-the-police scene, he runs away in Edinburgh, crosses the street in front of the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, and is caught by the police back in Edinburgh. That’s quite a long distance to run.

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