This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 87 minutes Other Extras Animated Menus
Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 0 Director Danny Boyle

Starring Ewan McGregor
Ewan Bremner
Jonny Lee Miller
Robert Carlyle
Kevin McKidd
RRP $34.95 Music  

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.66:1    
Macrovision ?    
Subtitles English
English Hard of Hearing

Plot Synopsis

    Trainspotting is a gritty look at the lives of five guys, most of whom are heroin addicts. It has become a cult classic, with
unforgettable characters such as Renton (Ewan McGregor), Spud (Ewan Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Begby
(Robert Carlyle) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd) becoming entrenched into modern culture. In their lives, nothing else matters
except themselves and where their next hit is going to come from.

    Trainspotting is very graphic and very profane. It earns its 'R' rating. Having said that, there is actually considerable black
humour in the story, as this group of five no-hopers goes from degrading situation to degrading situation. There are some very
gross visuals to enjoy along the way, such as the "worst toilet in Scotland", the soiled bedsheet and the very unfortunate

    This movie is a character-driven piece, with the story almost incidental to the characters. Ewan McGregor puts in a superb
performance as Renton, and Robert Carlyle is excellent as the extremely violent Begby. You cannot feel much sympathy for
these characters since they are all awful people, but you can wallow in the aimlessness and the depravity of their lives for 90

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is reasonably good, with only minor faults.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. Also present on the other side of the disc is a Pan &
Scan version of the movie. The framing on this side has additional information at the top of the picture, but less information at
the sides of the picture. I watched the widescreen version of the movie. Note that the original intended aspect ratio of this
movie was 1.66:1, so I presume that we have had a small amount cropped off the top of the frame. I note that the R1 release of
this movie is widescreen only, and not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was generally quite sharp and clear, but not quite as good as the very best transfers. Shadow detail was usually
quite good, important for a movie such as this one which is often shot in gloomy locales.

    The colours were very well-rendered, including some very intensly red-lit scenes which were free of colour bleeding and
chroma noise.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were few and far between, but consisted of a number of short shots
with some image wobble, and some very minor aliasing.

    Film artefacts were present in acceptable numbers, and were not particularly noticeable.

    There were slight pauses at the start of the movie and the end of the movie as a result of branching video - both English and
French opening titles and end credits are present on this disc, encoded as separate titles which the DVD player branches to
according to the selected language. These pauses are barely noticeable, but interleaved video would have eliminated this pause
altogether, and would have been preferred.

    Finally, subtitles turned ON in the disco scenes. I don't know if this also occurred in the theatrical release, as the
conversation is extremely difficult to hear, but I personally would have preferred it if the subtitles had remained OFF, as I found
that I could understand the conversation by listening closely and I felt that the subtitles were a distraction.


    There are three audio tracks to choose from on this DVD. The default is English Dolby Digital 5.1. This is the track that I
listened to. The other tracks present are a French soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Spanish soundtrack in Dolby Digital

    Dialogue was hard to hear at times, particularly in the aforementioned disco scene. This is as much a result of the thick
Scottish accents of the actors as anything else, and it is something that I got used to the further I got into the movie. In terms of
recorded dialogue levels, I felt that generally these levels were fine.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The music was suitably gritty and frequently present, adding to the overall feel of the movie. It was aggressively mixed into
the surrounds.

     The surround channels were used for music. I didn't hear any specific ambience or sound effects emanating from the rear,
but there was some of this across the front of the soundstage. For what it was, having the music mixed all around you helped
with enveloping you into the movie.

    The .1 channel had only limited used to support some of the music.


    There are only limited extras on this disc. Unfortunately, no theatrical trailer is present on either side of the disc.


    The menu design on the disc is simple and easy to navigate, even though it is somewhat on the ugly side. A minor annoyance
is that the "play movie" option is not the default selection, meaning that a minimum of 3 key presses is required to start the
movie. The menu on the 16:9 side of the disc is 16x9 enhanced, whereas the menu on the 4:3 side of the disc is not, making
both menus appear in the correct proportions. Scene selection is well laid out, and features animated thumbnails of the relevant

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Quite extensive and surprisingly easy to read cast & crew biographies are the sum total of the extras on this DVD.


    A multilingual booklet which is not much more than chapter headings and a few still shots is included.


    Trainspotting is a very different and very provocative movie. It will not be to everyone's taste - I quite enjoyed it.

    The video quality is quite good, though not quite as good as the very best transfers, with only minor artefacts.

    The audio quality is of good quality and is more enveloping than I expected.

    The extras are very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
28th January 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer