#girlsonfilm is a feature in which your friend and ours, Hannah Oliver, recreates famous cinematic scenes in real life and then writes about them. The idea being to discover what happens when the fantasy of film is brought down to the reality of everyday life.
You’re expecting a word, maybe two words, to crop up instantaneously. I know you are. A word with a capital ‘C’, and then that thing Sam prances through every day. I could use up an entire article simply reciting that notorious speech, and wouldn’t feel particularly bad about it. Renton knows, man. He may be a heroin addict, but he knows life and he does something else instead. So, here we go…
‘Choose life’, Renton spits gutturally, and means the exact opposite, as upbeat drums roll in and his feet and the stolen tapes hit the pavement of Princes Street. Choose something different, that ain’t contrived and constructed around what the big-ass corporations have decided to advertise to you as the latest emblems of success – be it as trivial as an electrical tin opener. Something that’s not adhering to the architecture of time around job, career, home and the children that replace you but don’t manage to stop youquestioning ‘who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning’.
Well. Lots of people were wondering who the fuck Melanie and Bethan were on a Wednesday morning not long gone as they sprinted past Boots in the pale attire of Ewan MacGregor and a policewoman (bloody expensive police cap, that was! £5 fancy dress, that’s commercial society for you). We decided against anyone getting hit by a car, and whilst I’d brought along a few condiments that could have dropped out from under Mel’s hoodie as she ran, the paranoia that someone would think she’d actually stolen something and rugby tackle her to the ground was too much. We cut our losses.
Oh man, it was funny to behold. Anonymous behind the trusty old camera that conveniently takes up my whole face –if not the cloud of hair that drifts around my upper torso – I got to watch Bethan, delirious from an all-nighter, cavort after Melanie with one hand plastered to the police hat on her head, as the thief (who also happens to be a pretty badass long-distance runner) pranced quite literally through the ‘non-life’ that we were trying to recreate.
I think the general attitude of the public was to get out of the fucking way as quickly as possible. Alarm, spectacle, a few stumbles as people negotiated which way to dodge around the two comedic bullets. And two darling old men who were waiting for their wives to finish fannying about inside Boots had a good chuckle to themselves, so I considered my good deed for the day done.
The same attitude, I believe, can be applied to the message of Trainspotting. Renton’s not-choosing life results in alarm, spectacle and a few stumbles, and everyone else has to get out of the fucking way cause he’ll be damned if he’s stopping. He calls out ‘life’ with the commas around it, because modern living can be theorised and abstracted into something more than simply being undead, mobile and catching food and making babies (to summarise in a nutshell. Lol. Who needs Nietzsche?). It’s something Danny Boyle tackles more than once – think The Beach, think 127 Hours … It’s a concept of modern commercialism, and the human capacity to be a sheep (yeah, I’m quite proud of that oxymoron, teehee.) His films implore us to be alarming sometimes, forfeit some dignity and forget the façade and be a bit stupid. Be humans, not sheep!
What have we learnt about film-life this week? Kids, don’t do heroin, we all know it gets Renton nowhere good. But give people something to look at that’s not ‘a big fucking TV’.
(Thanks a lot, by the way, Mel and Bethan, for forfeiting your dignity, etc. Means a lot, chicas. You are officially humans, not sheep. Mwahaha.)
Hannah Oliver studies English Literature at Edinburgh University. She would like to think that this is an apt excuse for her tendency to be overly florid, pleonastic and long-winded (yeah, we couldn’t find a more pretentious word for long-winded). However, there are two things to effectively shut her up – coffee and/or chocolate. ’Nuff said.
If you’re interested in getting involved with PTL – drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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