“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats that you’ve spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

And with that opening monologue, set to a backdrop of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”, begins Danny Boyle’s 1996 sophomore feature Trainspotting. Based on Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel of the same name, Trainspotting follows a group of young heroin addicts in Edinburgh, including Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner), Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), and others in their orbit such as Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Tommy Mackenzie (Kevin McKidd), and Diane Coulston (Kelly Macdonald).

Criterion is kicking off 2024 with a bang with a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray edition of the film (which re-enters the Criterion Collection for the first time since its 1997 LaserDisc release), sourced from a new 4K restoration of the uncut version of the film, supervised by Boyle. The release comes in the form of a glow-in-the-dark digipak case, which opens in the back like an envelope and folds out to reveal inserts for the respective 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray and standard Blu-Ray discs (fittingly marked by the words “Choose 4K UHD” and “Choose Blu-Ray”), and a booklet that features two essays—”Beyond the Tracks” by critic Graham Fuller, and “No Victims”, by author Irvine Welsh—in addition to Welsh’s glossary of terms from the original novel.


As noted in the “About the Transfer” section of the booklet, Trainspotting makes its 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray debut in its original aspect ratio of 1:85:1. The new Boyle-supervised digital master was created from the 35mm original camera negative, scanned in 4K. The film is presented on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc in Dolby Vision featuring high dynamic range (HDR).

source: Criterion

Trainspotting is notable for its distinct visual style and this new Criterion release is a huge improvement on the last Region A release of the film, which was over a decade ago. When comparing this release and the 2011 Lionsgate Blu-Ray, the former certainly wins out. I viewed the Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with Dolby Vision on its own and then the Criterion standard Blu-Ray side-by-side with the 2011 Blu-Ray, and the Criterion release definitely boasts a dramatic improvement. The new remaster brings a lot of nuance and definition to the film that wasn’t present on previous releases—the picture has noticeably greater stability and generally looks a lot healthier than it did on Blu-Ray previously. There’s been some pre-release controversy over the new color temperature in contrast to the 2011 release but I personally think it looks terrific and far superior in presentation. It’s also worth noting that the new master restores sections of the image that were cropped out of the previous release’s master, specifically on the left side of the frame, so the Criterion release definitely looked “fuller” to my eyes when viewed against the previous master.


Two audio tracks are included on this release: a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track and an alternate DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. As noted in the “About the Transfer” section of the booklet, the original 2.0 surround soundtrack was remastered from a Dolby Stereo print master, while the 5.1 track was remastered from the original six-track magnetic masters, which were mastered by the late Ted Hall at the new-defunct Pacific Ocean Post in Santa Monica, California, in 1997.

source: Criterion

Having the original 2.0 surround track remastered is certainly a treat. The film sounds incredible from the jump with the “Lust for Life” intro, and the quality remains consistent all the way through. Trainspotting has an energy few films can match and so much of that comes from how sound functions in it. Dialogue moves at a rapid pace and both audio tracks provide spectacular clarity in this regard. The iconic soundtrack also sounds amazing—scenes like the “Lust for Life” opening, the overdose sequence set to Lou Reed‘s “Perfect Day”, the closing moments backed by Underworld‘s “Born Slippy .NUXX”, and many more all carry robust auditory weight.

Special Features

There is only one special feature included on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, and a number of others included on the standard Blu-Ray disc. All descriptions below are taken directly from the discs themselves, except for “Reading”, which didn’t have a description on-disc.

source: Criterion

4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray:

Commentary: This commentary track, recorded by the Criterion Collection in 1996, features director Danny Boyle, actor Ewan McGregor, producer Andrew Macdonald, and screenwriter John Hodge.


Commentary: This commentary track, recorded by the Criterion Collection in 1996, features director Danny Boyle, actor Ewan McGregor, producer Andrew Macdonald, and screenwriter John Hodge.
Designing: In this interview, conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2023, costume designer Rachael Fleming and production designer Kave Quinn discuss the look of Trainspotting.
Listening: The following program presents recollections from musicians featured on the Trainspotting soundtrack—Iggy Pop, Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Damon Albarn (Blur), Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), Neil Barnes (Leftfield), and Rick Smith and Karl Hyde (Underworld)—as well as Noel Gallagher (Oasis).
Archiving: Off the Rails: The Making of “Trainspotting” is compiled from on-set footage and interviews conducted during and in the years following the film’s production.
Remembering: This 2008 documentary, Memories of Trainspotting, features interviews with director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, screenwriter John Hodge, and actors Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Kelly Macdonald, and Robert Carlyle.
Deleting: The following scenes were deleted from the final cut of Trainspotting. To listen to commentary by the filmmakers, press the AUDIO key on your remote at any time.

Deleted Scene 24
Deleted Scene 31
Deleted Scene 32
Deleted Scenes 73 and 110
Deleted Scene 142
Deleted Scene 143
Deleted Scene 188
Deleted Scene 191
Deleted Australia Scene


Theatrical Trailer

Reading: This short feature consists of a small number of test readings done by Ewan McGregor for the commentary track’s introduction.


Even in 2024, there are few movies that match the raw intensity of Danny Boyle‘s Trainspotting. From the very first frame, the film announces itself as an astonishingly confident work with a full grasp on its style and tonal rhythm that sprints from one scene to the next with relentless energy and charisma. Every performance is absolutely electric and there isn’t a single dull moment in the entire film.

Criterion’s new release of Trainspotting, slated to be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray and standard Blu-Ray at the end of the month, is sourced from a new master restored from the original camera negative—not to mention arriving with the original surround soundtrack, newly-remastered, and a host of supplemental content that will surely satisfy both returning viewers and new ones. In my opinion, Criterion’s new 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray is the best the film has ever looked and sounded on the home video format and is now the definitive way of viewing this classic of ’90s cinema.

Trainspotting will be released on January 30, 2024 courtesy of Criterion.

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