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"Trainspotting" takes unflinching look at heroin addiction

Image of McGregor

July 22, 1996
Web posted at: 10:20 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of the most talked-about films of the summer is one that is expected to premier in the United States this week.

"Trainspotting," now a huge hit in Britain, takes an unflinching look at heroin addiction.

The movie follows the exploits of Alex Renton, a young Scottish drug addict. But it's more than just a grim, cautionary tale despite graphic depictions of heroin and its ravaging effects.

Actor Ewan McGregor says the movie focuses on the lives of a group of young people.

"I think the fact that they do heroin is almost kind of a side issue," McGregor said. "But that's obviously the one thing people are going to talk about."

Screenwriter John Hodge agrees that "smack" is not the star of the film.

Image of Bremner

"That's not why we made the film, and I think anyone who goes to see it will find that's not really what it's about," Hodge said. "It's about the characters."

Ewan Bremner, who plays "Spud" in the film, says the movie carries an effective anti-drug message.

"A film like 'Trainspotting' is a good education in that area -- without having to do the drug yourself," Bremner said.

Director Danny Boyle is part of the creative team that brought "Shallow Grave" to theaters in 1993. He says "Trainspotting" is no downer.

Image from

"Ultimately, it celebrates the human spirit," Boyle said. "It doesn't denigrate it. It actually celebrates it, which is why people come out of the film feeling elevated when, in fact, in theory, you should feel pretty depressed in certain ways, but you actually feel exhilarated, I hope."

icon McGregor says the movie allows viewers to make up their own mind. (85K AIFF or WAV sound of McGregor)

Audiences in England have given "Trainspotting" a huge thumbs-up, making it the second-biggest grossing British film since "Four Weddings and A Funeral."

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