Trainspotting and Identities

In the new episode of Cinema Europe, Catarina and Lucia take a closer look at the opening scene of the cult film ‘Trainspotting’ (1993). Which “levels of identity” they found out, what it has to do with the film and what “Trainspotting” has to do with European identity, you can find out on Thursday, September 30th at 8pm on 104.8fm and in our stream

We discovered three ‘levels of identity’ that can first be detected in the opening scene and continue to develop throughout the film. The first level depicts the struggle of protagonist Mark Renton to find his personal identity between wanting to live a ‘normal life’ and his heroin addiction. As a second level of identity we detected a certain dichotomy between the ‘Scottishness’ of the film and its breaking with nationalism. This post-national perspective could hint at the emergence of a ‘European Identity’ in mid-90s Europe. As a third level of identity, many film critics ascribe Trainspotting an American character which renders Trainspotting a film that introduces the emergence of a certain global identity.


Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life . . .

It’s shite being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low! The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash, that was shat into civilisation! Some people hate the English, I don’t! They’re just wankers! We, on the other hand, are colonised by wankers! Can’t even find a decent culture to be colonised by! We’re ruled by effete assholes! It’s a shite state of affairs to be in Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference!

But, that’s gonna change – I’m going to change. This is the last of that sort of thing. Now I’m cleaning up and I’m moving on, going straight and choosing life. I’m looking forward to it already. I’m gonna be just like you. The job, the family, the fucking big television. The washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electric tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisure wear, luggage, three piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die.”