Film: Double Bill - Shekhar Kapur, Director of `Elizabeth', on his ideal cinematic pairing

2001: A Space Odyssey Dir. Stanley Kubrick (1968) Trainspotting Dir. Danny Boyle (1996)
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THESE FILMS are so far apart from each other when you initially look at them, yet each are talking about very mythical and mystical things.

Although Trainspotting is so chaotic and contradictory to everything, I believe if chaos is pushed, it achieves the same thing as order. When contradiction and chaos are taken to an extreme, we come to 2001: A Space Odyssey and its extreme of order. It's like a circle where you can go through order, prayer and faith or come through chaos, disorder and angst - both meet at the same point. The common idea is a search for the meaning of life.

Through the angst of drug-taking in Trainspotting, the characters come to a different way of understanding life. Although some of the characters don't find meaning, that doesn't deny the fact they are still searching for a reason for existence. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a more obvious search. They discover something but you are left to question exactly what that is; they find time and space coalesce and that they can lose their separate identities and, in a sense, find timelessness through space travel. In Trainspotting, timelessness is found through drugs. Both challenge the way we are all structured to think of the concept of time as linear.

We are aware that when we travel from London to Bombay, by the time we get to Bombay in our current space, the time in London doesn't exist. But in actual space it does. We tend to travel from one space in time to another. 2001: A Space Odyssey talks about becoming old and also becoming a child again. So you can be in one space and time but also another.

In the book and film of Trainspotting, the characters are searching for something to break the structures with which we see our life; to see another way of living. And, of course, one thing that totally dominates us in our lives is the concept of time.

The visual effects in both films are incredibly striking. Regardless of how much dialogue you understand, the visuals come back to you. They have a wonderful value, keeping a subtext and sub-conscious feeling of spirituality.

With Trainspotting, the visuals are chaotic, telling more than is being said. For instance, the scene where Ewan McGregor is swimming in the toilet to retrieve his pills describes the wider story of a deep need for drugs. The other thing is the way music is used; it also tells the story. Kubrick used classical music such as "Blue Danube" which I thought couldn't be used without being cheesy, yet it feels absolutely right. This is the way modern music is used in Trainspotting, as in the beginning when they run through the streets.

Both films are absolutely pioneering. 2001: A Space Odyssey began a new kind of science-fiction and outer-space film. Although it is too early to say about Trainspotting, it looks to me like the new cinema and the way it should go.

Interview by