Danny Boyle’s legacy is a robust and interesting selection of film projects.
The Mancunian director has been directing big-screen features since 1994’s Shallow Grave and has gone on to make stone cold classics, Academy Award stormers and misunderstood cult favourites – before he reached ‘national treasure level’ with the opening ceremony of London 2012.
One of the defining factors of Boyle filmography (apart from a penchant for a celtic leading man) is the diverse and often gripping use of music throughout.
Boyle seems to have the golden touch for picking just the right song for a particular scene – marrying both together in your mind from then on out.
To celebrate this, we’ve picked five of the best uses of music from his films and put together a short playlist, which you can listen to below.
1. Lou Reed – ‘Perfect Day’ from Trainspotting (1996)
Proof that it doesn’t have to be deafeningly loud to hit a cinema-going audience. Trainspotting‘s portrayal of the utterly unglamorous side of heroin addiction captured the ’90s zeitgeist – but amidst a soundtrack dripping with electronic music of the day, it was Lou Reed’s 1972 ballad that really got under the skin.
Perhaps it was due to Reed’s own affinity with heroin culture and drug addiction, or perhaps it was the irony of the description of a ‘perfect day’ as a man overdosed on drugs in an Edinburgh tenement after a court appearance. Either way, it was beautiful cinema.
2.Underworld – ‘Born Slippy’ from Trainspotting (1996)
Are we getting across how stellar the Trainspotting soundtrack is? Rave pioneers Underworld were already a cult band for a the UK scene, but their association with the redemption of Mark Renton saw ‘Born Slippy’ ascend into the stratosphere and become one of the defining songs of the 1990s.
It could be argued that no film director since has managed to get across the soul and positivity of the ’90s rave scene like Boyle did in those final moments of this film.
3. All Saints – ‘Pure Shores’ from The Beach (2000)
Perhaps unappreciated at the time due to the expectation loaded on Boyle from previous works, The Beach and its depiction of a Thailand backpacking adventure gone wrong proved a box office hit and a film that’s endured through word-of-mouth. Also, despite receiving a Razzie nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio’s leading role as a naive American tourist caught up in a world he doesn’t know was far more nuanced than critics gave it credit for.
The choice of girl group All Saints as the film’s single may have seemed like cheap marketing – but the film added credibility to the band and now it’s nigh-on-impossible to hear the song and not picture those shots of Thailand’s blue sea.
4. John Murphy – ‘In the House, In a Heartbeat’ from 28 Days Later (2002)
Despite the fact that 28 Days Later matches the vision of a post-apocalyptic world with many huge names in atmospheric music (Brian Eno, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Granddaddy) – it was the work of film composer John Murray which became the defining sound of the movie.
‘In the House, In a Heartbeat’ used alternative rock instruments with film-score sensibilities and the track became one of the most recognised instrumental tracks of the decade, even popping up on Kick Ass eight years later.
5. I Am Kloot – ‘Avenue of Hope’ from Sunshine (2007)
A cruelly-underrated band for a cruelly underrated film. Sunshine proved to be the antithesis of The Beach – winning huge critical approval without troubling box office figures.
The film is a psychological mind-bender, set in the sci-fi genre and the use of fellow Mancunians I Am Kloot over the title credit was an inspired choice – a beautiful human emotional ballad over the scenes of outer space.
Listen to the Danny Boyle playlist on Spotify:
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