Tag Archive: Trainspotting


The Academy Award winning director talks about his nod to heist films and classic noir

Director Danny Boyle used electronic and retro jazz sounds in the new art-heist film 'Trance.'Director Danny Boyle used electronic and retro jazz sounds in the new art-heist film “Trance.” (Fox Searchlight)

In the films of English director Danny Boyle, music frequently emerges as an important (if unseen) character. The drug-addict drama Trainspotting was fueled by a jam-packed, manic soundtrack of songs by Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and the electronic duo Underworld. He teamed up with Indian composer A.R. Rahman for 127 Hours and the highly successful Slumdog Millionaire, for which Boyle won a Best Director Oscar.

His new movie Trance, starring James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson, pays homage to two beloved genres: the high-tech heist movie and shadowy film noir.

Boyle enlisted a frequent collaborator, Rick Smith of Underworld, to craft dance beats for action sequences, while using pre-existing jazz and French chanson for sequences involving hypnosis and dreams.

Known for using pre-existing songs, Boyle doesn’t use a music supervisor and selects tracks himself. “It’s one of the deepest pleasures for me. It helps shape the film in so many ways, [beyond] just the music. It informs the film completely for me,” he told Soundcheck‘s John Schaefer. “I’m very proud to be able to associate myself with these artists via film.”

He talked with John Schaefer about choosing music for Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Read more the conversation here: http://wny.cc/ZpoOi0

JS: On using “Deep Blue Day” from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois’ album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, for the notorious Trainspotting scene involving “the worst toilet in Scotland”:

DB: That album is, to me, one of the greatest atmospheric albums ever. It is just an extraordinary piece of work. I’ve used it multiple times. I used it in a TV series before I moved into films. And I used it so many times, in so many different ways, that eventually Brian Eno wrote to me and said, “I’ve done other things, you know.”

JS: Tell us about a song that you thought would be perfect for a scene, but couldn’t get permission to use.

DB: We tried to get Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” for 28 Days Later. There’s an amazing sequence where [Cillian Murphy’s character, Jim] walks home. London is deserted, apparently apart from this threat, and he finds his way back to his old home where his parents lived. And he finds them in bed, passed away. They passed away peacefully and left a message for him. It’s very moving within this apocalyptic horror.

And her amazing song was [initially] on the soundtrack. And we approached her about it, and she said she didn’t want it to be associated with anything else because she wanted to do something else with it in the near future. So she declined, and I was really sad. [TheatricallyReally sad.

But her decision was a good one – and good things come out of it. And we used a hymn instead which actually had an even greater significance instead, especially for a British audience. You’re trying to suggest the past of the city, and hymns sonically do that. Something that we’re all familiar with through schooling, and so we used “Abide With Me.”

JS: Will there be a third film in the 28 Days Later zombie franchise?

DB: I wish we’d had shares in The Walking Dead, the TV show! There had been a whole zombie movement, and then I think we helped refresh it with 28 Days Later. […] I was very keen for it not to be known as a zombie movie. I had this idea that the threat is much more rage-filled. But it’s become absorbed in the zombie landscape and is referred to constantly as a zombie movie. I have to accept that. [laughs] I’m lucky to be there. There is an idea for a third part, cause we did a 28 Weeks Later, and so the 28 Months Later or whatever it would be called — the third one — there is a plan for that. How realistic it is given the success of something like Walking Dead, I have no idea. Who knows? Fingers crossed.

SXSW Danny Boyle

So far one of the highlights of SXSW was the panel featuring director Danny Boyle. The enthusiasm he shared with Jack Giroux from filmschoolrejects.com about the event was evident during his Q&A. Even when the nifty “Danny Boyle’s Filmography” montage Fox Searchlight cut together was playing we saw Boyle dancing to it. He was happy to be there, and so were we.

While the Slumdog Millionaire director was there to promote Trance, Boyle discussed many of his films, and the lessons he learned from them. Unfortunately he didn’t have time to reminisce about all his movies, but what the director of Trance did talk about was noteworthy. Read more here:  http://bit.ly/Y7DUbk

That’s why we took notes:

Become a Great Filmmaker By Showing Interest in Priesthood 

“There are similarities [between a director and a priest]. There’s directing in priesthood and pouncing around. There are a number of directors who were going to be priests, like, Martin Scorsese and John Woo. Confessing your sins with movies is nice. You go to these dark places and access your darker side.”

Study Actors

“Theater is a much easier place to access, and you learn skills there. I learned how to deal with actors and the secrets. In the new film, TranceRosario Dawson says, ’5% of the population is extremely suggestible.’ They use techniques to find the 5%, and they’re often actors who want to change and do things that change them. I think you get that with an actor: wanting to experience something as an actor and as a storyteller. You have to trust your actor be a storyteller. Most people go to the cinema to see the actors.”

Your First Movie Has a Magic You Might Not Get Back

“Yeah, I think there’s something wonderful about your first time. Film is so technical. There’s so many elements that are manipulative, which you construct specifically to produce an effect. There’s a worry you’ll lose the innocence of your first try.

Lie to Financiers and Win an Oscar 

“There’s a perversity in there that’s delicious. We used Slumdog‘s impact to make a film we wanted to make. Nobody was going to make [127 Hours] because it’s a guy alone for six days and cuts his arm off. You lie to them, ‘Yeah, it’s an action movie with one guy!’. [For Slumdog] We didn’t tell them a third of it was going to be in Hindi. Sure, some kids get their eyes taken out, but it’s like Amelie crossed with Trainspotting! You’ll say anything to get your film made.

“Too MTV” Isn’t a Bad Thing 

“I was watching The Big Chill on the way over here, and those were bold choices. The Doors and Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now…I mean this whole realistic world is now being shown through this prism. When we started with Shallow Grave and Trainspotting we did that, but we were attacked as being ‘too MTV.’ They said they were like music videos. I thought it was a compliment at the time. People are living their life like that. I see my life like pop music, singing to myself and seeing it here and there.”

The Power of Music

“My coming of age was puck. In 1978 I was 20, and that was an amazing time for me. 15 years later there was rave culture in Britian, and I was just about old enough to go enjoy that. I was 35, around when I started making films. Although the book [“Trainspotting”] is about drugs, the film is about dance culture. We did that unapolgetically. We wanted to make a drug movie you could watch, since most are so depressing. Maybe someone does heroin, throws up, and sits in a corner for 10 hours, but that’s not cinematic. The drug does destroy people in the film, but the rhythm of the film can be expressed with a different tempo. That’s why the music in Trainspotting…there’s a hidden path from pop to electronic down music and then to Brit pop.”

Movies Should Assault

“I love energy in movies. I want my films to mesmerize people. I used to get that with Nic Roeg films, where I’m pinned by the characters and there’s no oxygen…I want the rabbit in the headlights. We don’t go to a dark room to discuss a film, but feel it and experience it. If it’s a dumb action movie, you may not want to. Depends on the context. When you’ve paid 12 dollars, I want you to be assaulted by the film. I want the film to assault you.”

A Few Other Tidbits From Boyle

  • “In the films we make, we try to change genre so you don’t go in, ‘I know how to do this.’ I’ve done that before, and it’s not good for you. You should try to work it out.”
  • “The risk taking you shouldn’t do is what you should do, but you should cover your back. Those risks make your films standout.”
  • “I was never a fan of zombie movies. I never thought we were making one [with 28 Days Later], but that’s what everyone calls it. It’s gone on to kick off a renewal of interest, including a TV show we have no rights for.”
  • “When I go to a movie I’m happy to let myself be changed by the experience.”
  • “I have a terrible temper. There were a few moments on The Olympics where I was vile, which was surprising. In a huge, corporate thing like that, you have to defend your patch.”
  • When it came to turning down knighthood, Boyle said, “Just wasn’t my cup of tea, really. I have no interest in that.”
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