Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares
Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently
And choose watching history repeat itself."
The opening lines of the 2017 version of Trainspotting's chill-inducing "Choose life" monologue sound very much like a modern day mantra for the new generations. And to my ears they could have never sounded truer and more inspiring. History repeating itself is exactly what I hope will happen in Trainspotting 2, out in theatres on January 27. I expect it to pay homage to the 1996 cult classic, whilst being protective of the Trainspotting legacy with a coherent screenplay and plot - not to mention the soundtrack, which has always played a key role in Danny Boyle's masterpieces (including Slumdog Millionnaire). And, of course, I expect it to be one hell of a movie. Reuniting the cast - and most of the crew, including revered screenwriter John Hodge - was already a massive task, and this is one of the reasons why I'll be waiting for T2 without a hint of anxiety or suspicion that the original Trainspotting could potentially be ruined.
The original "Choose life" monologue was majestically recited by Renton (Ewan McGregor) in Trainspotting's first scene, and those words have been imprinted in the collective memory ever since, echoing in our ears. Even the Tories, and specifically George Osborne, borrowed and decontextualised some of its words during a speech in 2014. In the movie we have witnessed close ups of the Mother Superior's cozy living room, with needles and spoons in the background, its interior filled with hyper realistic degraded and symbolic colors and emptied of any moral judgment every time Renton, Sick Boy and Spud sinked into a state of ecstasy after a shot of heroin; we understood the distinctive features of the protagonists and the squalor that runs through the working class - even through those who chose "life, a job, a career", finding themselves watching "a fucking big television" in a gray room and take valium as "socially acceptable" junkies.
But what now? The digital age, along with the war against social networking addiction, seems the logical theme sequel to Trainspotting's original debate on the meaning of life. It's the central talking point in today's technology-driven world, very much different to the Nineties. This change was even (fantastically) described in the original movie, when Renton finds himself in the Volcano nightclub:
"The world is changing, music is changing, drugs are changing. Even men and women are changing.
One thousand years from now, there'll be no guys and no girls. Just wankers.
Sounds great to me."
Not even one thousand years. Twenty one years on, and everything is exactly as Renton described it. Different. Paraphrasing the last bit of the quote, less and less people care about their actual life. What they do care is how they look digitally. They went online on social media to go offline in real life, bartering their freedom. This is a modern and relevant issue I hope T2 will cover, inspiring and setting the example for new generations to follow.
Apart from being my favourite movie, Trainspotting taught me much about life, even though I was just 14 when I first sat through those 95 minutes of genius (with the aid of subtitles - the Scottish accent was still too much for me at the time). As Robert Carlyle (Begbie) said, the movie sort of tells you to think about yourself. And in doing that it goes beyond the harrowing look at Edinburgh's drug scene. It is in fact a snapshot of the 90s, one of those no-filter photographies (Instagram filter, while we're at it), fed to the public thanks to a sharp and innovative use of contemporaneous music such as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Underworld. In doing this, it is very respectful of the British film scene. It grasps you, shakes you, emotionally hits you. In the end it doesn't even feel like the movie is necessarily encompassed around heroin or being Scottish: it talks to you directly, as a human being. Renton could be any of us, his bunch of mates could be ours. I expect T2 to capture the same snap and testify for our generation, just like its dad Trainspotting did twenty odd years ago.
I don't bother going to the cinema anymore unless it's a truly special occasion, but this is one of them. And I have no doubt I will make my way out of the cinema with a smile on my face.