Red has been used by visual artists for centuries to represent the life force that's literally inside our bodies — our blood. In Trainspotting, it represents drugs and danger — anything that threatens the character's life. The apartment where Swanney (Peter Mullan), the drug dealer who's also referred to as "Mother Superior," lives and any areas where drugs are taken are always red. The red shag carpet plays a bigger role later, as we'll see.
Green light and green walls are seen when there is an absence of drugs or healing is taking place. The area where Dawn, the baby, resides is also green.
Blue is used in transitional spaces like hallways, hospitals, hotels and, of course, in the scene where Renton (Ewan McGregor) dives into the "worst toilet in Scotland" to retrieve his heroin suppositories. We see him diving into filth, but he sees crystal blue water.
At one point, we see Renton standing in front of a large painting of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). Renton's head is squarely between the barrels of Bickle's guns, suggesting he, like the irreverent Bickle, is dangerously existing on the fringe of society and constantly flirting with death.
Renton meets Diane (Kelly Macdonald) at a club called Volcano, which is its own sexual metaphor. But she's not passive like the other women. We see her take two drinks from a man, drink them both and leave him in the dust. When Renton approaches her, she verbally tears him apart, emasculating him before getting into the taxi and leaving the door open. Renton doesn't know what's going on until the cab driver asks if he's getting in or not.
Inside Volcano, the women's restroom has a life-size painting of Jodie Foster as Iris from Taxi Driver. This is a metaphor for an oversexualized, underage girl, perhaps alluding to Diane being just a schoolgirl.
Diane's bedroom is adorned with a Warhol-esqe portrait of her, suggesting she's still in her self-centered teen years. But if you look closely, you'll see a red stuffed dog on the dresser, which only a child would have.
As Tommy (Kevin McKidd) attempts to lead Renton, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) on a sober hike in the Scottish highlands, the guys protest. Tommy suggests that being in the countryside should make them feel proud to be Scottish, but Renton rejects that notion, saying, "It's shite being Scottish, we're the lowest of the low. The scum of the f***ing earth." To demonstrate visually how worthless Renton feels, he's seen in profile through most of the monologue, proving that his Scottish mug doesn't even deserve the full screen.
Mother Superior looks down at him as if he's in a grave. Renton is overdosing. He drags him down the stairs and puts him into a taxi. Renton's POV is still from six feet down, even as he's taken to the hospital.
When the nurse injects Renton, he immediately rises out of the grave.
Renton is forced to detox in his parents' home, in the bedroom where he grew up. The trains on the wall are a reminder of the act of "trainspotting," which refers to heroin users watching the dark marks on their veins, often called tracks, left by the intravenous drug use.
As Renton detoxes, his parents bring him pea soup, the green metaphorical elixir that will help him get clean. If you look carefully, you'll also see that his mattress is green.
Renton has a voiceover when he's out at a nightclub while Begbie (Robert Carlyle) unknowingly hooks up with a transvestite. Renton says, "Diane was right. The world is changing. Music is changing. Drugs are changing. Even men and women are changing. One thousand years from now, there will be no guys and no girls, just wankers. Sounds great to me." But Begbie didn't agree.
In this image, we see Renton is literally tied up on the railroad tracks. This is the perfect metaphor of what will happen to him if he doesn't get off drugs.
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