Trainspotting

Picture
Sound
Extras

Hang on for a wild ride through ‘90s Scotland as Trainspotting returns, nastier than ever. Adapted from the book by Irvine Welsh, it traces the ups and downs of a group of working-class young friends, most of whom are habitual intravenous drug users. The movie gets right to the heroin and not in the way audiences of the era likely expected, proclaiming narrator Mark Renton’s (Ewan McGregor) love for the stuff even as it sends his life out of control.

Instead of lapsing into the heavy-handed clichés of a cautionary tale, it’s actually incredibly funny, in a very R-rated way that can also be rather unsettling. In other words, there’s never been a movie that’s balanced boundary-pushing comedy and drama like this, before or since, and it remains required viewing.

Criterion has been crushing it lately. They want us to know that this is the uncut version of the film, as many alterations have been made over the years, and this superb new video master has been supervised by director Danny Boyle from a 4K scan of the original negative. What might have once been dismissed as low-budget and kind of ugly and/or dated is now revealed to be wonderfully textured. There is a wealth of immersive detail evident in the production design, right down to the abundant stains, yielding a perfect snapshot of a specific time and place. “The worst toilet in Scotland” is fully wretch-inducing, while life in and around frequently overcast Edinburgh is enlivened by bittersweet splashes of color.

The disc defaults to a discrete 5.1 soundtrack, although the vintage 2.0 surround track is supplied as well, both in DTS-HD Master Audio. The little touches are terrific, like the lone fly buzzing about behind and to the left in the aforementioned loo, or the echo retained in the on-location dialogue… even if I still can’t understand a lot of what these blokes are saying. I was dismayed that the surround channels were not active for the crowd at the pub, however, the whole room thankfully comes alive when we visit the dance club. The many musical selections are vital to the experience — I bought the CD, way back when — and the mix is spot-on, with ample bass oomph.

The complement of solid legacy extras dates all the way to 1996, among them a multi-participant commentary on the 4K disc and 10 minutes of deleted scenes on the HD Blu-ray, now joined by a new featurette about the costumes and art direction. The platters arrive in a curious, all-cardboard case with glow-in-the-dark accents.

ULTRA HD 4K BLU-RAY
STUDIO: Criterion Collection, 1996
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision, HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
LENGTH: 94 mins., R
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
STARRING: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald

COMMENTS
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ashurbanipal's picture

The disc case cover art shown is for T2. C’mon guys.

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