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A case study in how to adapt a difficult book for the screen,
This review is from: Trainspotting: A Screen Play (Paperback)
There are two reasons to pick up John Hodge's screenplay for "Trainspotting," based on the novel by Irvine Welsh. The first is because you have trouble understand English spoken with strong Scottish brogues and you cannot figure out how to use closed captioning. Admittedly, this is the minor reason. The second and major reason is to appreciate how well Hodge transformed Welsh's novel into a solid screenplay. After all, the novel was a collection of loosely related short stories about several different characters that neither aspires to nor reaches a complete narrative form. Also, the key to the characters comes as much from their internal monologues as it does from anything they say or do. Of course the solution was to focus on one character and make him the "narrator" of the film. This becomes Mark Renton, the unrepentant drug abuser who does not seem to be as hell-bent on self-destruction as the rest of his mates.
This volume includes an introduction by Hodge, who explains how he came to be coerced into writing the screenplay. The screenplay is indeed the screenplay, and not a transcript of the film, so there are plenty of changes in dialogue and editing if you actually do sit down and follow along while watching Danny Boyle's film. Notations tell you want scenes or bits of dialogue were cut from the film and there are plenty of black & white photographs of the various scenes (but just Ewen McGregor coming OUT of the toilet...). The Afterword consists of a brief interview with author Irvine Welsh, conducted during the penultimate week of the shooting of the film (Welsh was doing a cameo performance as the drug dealer Mikey Forrester). Welsh speaks candidly about the transformation of his novel into a film and how the drug scene in Scotland has changed since the book's original publication. However, for those who have actually tracked down and read the novel, reading the screenplay soon afterwards will give you a greater appreciation of how excellent a job Hodges did with this adaptation.