With the highly anticipated Olympic opening ceremony kicking off tonight I decided it was as good an opportunity as ever to take a look back at the highlights of its director Danny Boyle. Choosing only a few scenes from such a varied and consistently excellent collection of films is a difficult task but I have tried to assemble five of my favourite scenes from one of the greatest British film makers working today.
1.) Renton ‘Chooses Life’ – Trainspotting
I could have picked a myriad of scenes from Trainspotting, one of my favourite films of all time. It sticks it’s colours to the mast with a highly energetic exciting opening scene as Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) do a runner while Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life pumps out in the background accompanied with arguably the most famous monologue in recent memory. The overdose and club scenes also rank high. However, I’ve decided that the best for its sheer upliftment after an hour and a half of dead babies, psychopathic Scotsmen and heroin usage is the climax as Renton gets away. Underworld’s ‘Lust for Life’ plays in its entirely as the whole movie is bought to its crescendo. The only dialogue is that of Renton’s narrative, mirroring the opening scene and perfectly bookmarks his journey.
2.) The Train Montage – Slumdog Millionaire
The film that won Danny Boyle the Oscar for Best Director has many stand out moments but for me the transitional montage where the two young brothers, Jamil and Salim are trying to make their own way through the slums into prosperity. MIA’s terrific ‘Paper Planes’ accompanies the siblings as they try to sell, lie and rob to make their way through an unforgiving nation where millions must do the same in order to survive. Superb performances, especially from the local children, and an intriguing opportunity to see an unfamiliar environment, Slumdog certainly deserved every positive criticism it received.
3.) Kanada’s Death – Sunshine
Possibly Boyle’s most underrated film, Sunshine is his most ambitious and different film tracking a group of scientists and astronauts who’s mission it is to jump start the dying sun and save the world. A riveting science-fiction, my favourite scene would have to be when Captain Kanada (Hiroyuki Sanada) lays down his life for the good of the crew. As the inevitable draws closer John Murphy’s masterpiece ‘Surface of the Sun’ becomes louder and more heart wrenching. Along with a gripping script by Alex Garland and wonderful special effects, it is a triumph. The film is also steeped in realism as the scientific advisor was no other than everyone’s favourite Professor Brian Cox who also gets an audio track on the DVD.
4.) The Roomate – Shallow Grave
Although the finale of Boyle’s first film is pretty special I didn’t want to include two conclusions so have opted to go for one of the funnier scenes in the list. It is a wonderfully written and directed scene as flatmates, David (Christopher Ecclestone), Alex (Ewan McGregor) and Juliet (Kerry Fox) are auditioning for a new tenant. The irreverent humour sets the tone nicely for the rest of the film as things turn darker and the house mates are plunged deeper into an unfamiliar and unsettling environment, all for the sake of money.
5.) Deserted London – 28 Days Later
Finally, as it is the London Olympics, I’ve decided to include probably one of the most iconic scenes from a Boyle film where a an unleashed disease called ‘rage’ has left the streets of London deserted. Unbeknownst to Jim (Cillian Murphy) who, recently out of a coma, shouts for aid to no avail. The whole scene is haunting with the accompanying music helping to emphasise his hopelessness and lack of help. The film’s climax is another achievement as John Murphy’s in a House in a Heartbeat plays as Jim must escape from the soldiers they thought would save them.
When compiling this list I found that all the greatest scenes have a terrific soundtrack to them and the music is used to such effect as to play on the audiences emotions. Many directors try to include good music but to have it so it compliments the scene so well that it improves it is an achievement. I think we are in safe hands tonight with the opening ceremony, especially since there are so many great scenes and films I didn’t even mention including 127 Hours, Millions and The Beach. I’m sure making Boyle director of the ceremony was one of the best moves from the Olympic committee.