BY Brennan Backs
Begbie's fuckin' psycho, man! But... he's a mate, so what can you do?
Based on a novel written by Irvine Welsh and adapted for the screen by Danny Boyle, TRAINSPOTTING (Danny Boyle 1996) inspects the lives of five friends from Edinburgh heavily invested in the drug scene. Renton (Ewan McGregor) is our protagonist and the gateway into this greed-driven, lustful way of life. While each character has their vice, it is the clean-cut character of Begbie (Robert Carlyle) who is the epitome of wrath. Unlike the others, he does not take or get seduced by the effects drugs. Instead, as Renton eloquently says, “Begbie didn’t do drugs either, he just did people”; he only gets high on violence and aggression.
On multiple occasions we see Begbie start fights, attack weakness and use violence to get what he wants. When we first meet him in the pub, he is telling a story about another fight he has been in, only to start another one right there. We are introduced to Begbie, sitting in the centre of the group, the members of which have their eyes firmly fixed on him as he speaks, taking in everything he says, although their facial expressions suggest this is with a pinch of salt. The scene creates a unique character. He is arguably a man without vice, no drug use nor does he condone the taking of it, even saying to Renton, “you better clean up your fuckin’ act sunshine, cut that shite out forever”. However, he preys on weakness and always looks for someone else to blame. As Tommy (Kevin McKidd) explains, his story does not match up to what actually happened. Instead, he found the weakest, more vulnerable person and attacked them, inexplicably taking his aggression out on them.
The scene ends with Begbie throwing a heavy pint glass over the bannister behind him to the punters below. He does it so nonchalantly that it just seems like just another day in the pub, rubbing his hands as he rises and ready to start a mass brawl. TRAINSPOTTING depicts the drug-taking culture of Edinburgh, commenting on working-class culture and the different types of people inherent in that society. As the epitome of wrath, Begbie attacks the innocent and seeks out aggression wherever he goes. Boyle suggests that it is circumstance that has led all of these characters, including Begbie, into this way of life. They are so oppressed and downtrodden that the only way out is through drugs and aggression.
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