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The Trainspotting Scene That Went Too Far

It's hard to argue that there are many films that linger in the collective memory of audiences while also conveying a message about the difficult subject matter surrounding youth and addiction more than Danny Boyle's gritty, impactful, and decade-defining 1996 film "Trainspotting."

Based on Irvine Welch's novel of the same name, Boyle's film made an indelible cultural imprint on the independent cinema world of the '90s and was hailed by some as the best movie of 1996. To this day, it remains an important component of cinema history. Centering on Renton (played by Ewan McGregor) and his group of heroin-addicted friends living in Edinburgh, Scotland, the film's 90-minute runtime frenetically takes us through the haphazard lives of these characters trying to find their way — and their next score.

There are more than a handful of scenes that are ripe with shock and awe (for example, the infamous toilet scene), but there is one particular moment that is extremely hard to handle. Here is the "Trainspotting" scene that went too far.

A baby dies from neglect

The realistic scenes showing Renton and his friends shooting up are distressing to watch. Swanney (Peter Mullan), the drug dealer from whom Renton and his friends usually get their drugs, has an apartment that serves as the main space where they spend most of their days in a drug-addled euphoric state. 

During one of their frequent sessions of mainlining heroin at Swanney's, everybody is woken up by intense screaming. One of the apartment's tenants, Allison (Susan Vidler), is wailing at the discovery of her baby's lifeless body in a crib. Redditor u/zero_defects said that seeing them "discover their grotesquely discolored baby was like a kick to the chest" and u/[deleted] said that "As a recovering pain killer addict and the mother of a toddler, I have only been able to watch that movie once because of that scene."

The reactions of each character witnessing the disturbing sight of a deceased infant are why this scene is especially tragic when compared to every other scene in the film. Sick Boy (played by Jonny Lee Miller) is hit the hardest, as he decides to become a changed person after experiencing the painful reality of loss and the unalterable effects of addiction, while the only way Renton deals with it is to get high.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4537).