Release Date: July 19, 1996
How It Got Made: Reading Irvine Welsh's 1993 literary sensation about the highs and lows of a group of Scottish junkies, director Danny Boyle and producer Andrew Macdonald believed they could invent a visual equivalent to the vibrant, urgent, shot-in-the-arm prose of Welsh's debut novel. "This has got to be the most energetic film you've ever seen," Boyle later told Entertainment Weekly, "about something that ultimately ends up in purgatory or worse."
Boyle's team secured the rights by convincing Welsh that they weren't going to try for gritty realism, like most movies about drug addiction; rather, they planned to make a movie as surreal, dreamlike, juiced-up, nightmarish, heartbreaking and funny as the novel. They succeeded, creating a movie generally regarded now as the best Scottish movie ever made, a picture that made stars out of Boyle, Ewan McGregor and the rest of the cast. It proved vastly influential even beyond the walls of the cinema; out on the presidential campaign trail, it reignited debate over whether the portrayal of drug use glamorizes addiction.