The Complete Collection: Danny Boyle (Part 1)

“It’s a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations.” – Danny Boyle
To celebrate Danny Boyle directing the Opening Ceremony for London Olympics 2012, over the next couple of days, I will be charting the career of one of Britains top directors …
Much like myself, Danny Boyle was born into a Catholic family with Irish parents. Though, unlike me, he was born in Radcliffe in Lancashire. This may come as no surprise to most people as Danny Boyle has often made films that have a spiritual element. Like Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle considered being a priest prior to becoming a filmmaker – having been an altar boy for 8 years. I can only thank God that he did not ‘select’ Boyle to be a priest because he is currently one of the most sought after and if not the strongest British director working today. Lets go back to the early days of young Danny Boyle, shortly after he left Bangor University…
Prior to Shallow Grave, Boyle worked in theatre – working at the Royal Court Theatre back in 1982. This is something he returned to with a production of Frankenstein at The National Theatre a few years ago. Indeed, the Olympic Ceremony is very-much a performance. He directed a range of Shakespeare plays for the RSC and, at the Royal Court, directed theatre by Howard Brenton and Edward Bond. He moved into television and became successful within this world, directing episodes of Inspector Morse and For the Greater Good.
It was John Hodge who had written the script for Shallow Grave, Boyle’s first foray into film with Andrew MacDonald as producer. Both MacDonald and Hodge would stick with Boyle for a while to come. Alongside Hodge, some unknown actors were cast  – a Scottish lad named Ewan McGregor and another bloke, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox… who wouldn’t do so well post-Shallow Grave. Certain interests were established – Danny Boyle’s interest in greed and trust. The suitcase full of money, though a staple of many thrillers, this Hitchcock-inspired quirky-thriller in a shifty-flat paved the way for the future. Certain folk made an impression on Boyle – Leftfield’s music, McGregors charming – but sinister edge – and cinematographer Brian Tufano who would be utilised in the future. Shallow Grave was warmly accepted, achieving many awards, but ultimately only gaining a fraction more than the $2.5m budget spent. Inevitably it has made its money now, due to its connection and inevitable “predecessor credibility” it had behind his next film; a film whereby the screenplay was based on a novel by Irvine Welsh …
Though based on Welshs’ novel, John Hodge wrote the screenplay with MacDonald, again, producing. Brian Tufano created the grimy cinematography of a heroin-addicts paradise and we begin to see a few theme’s return – as a couple more add to Boyle’s ouevre. Leftfield, again, appear on the soundtrack – but this time with a host of others representing an eclectic mix of different music from the eighties and nineties – Underworld, Brian Eno, Primal Scream and Damon Albarn to name a few. So far, so Indie. Bumped up from a $2.5m budget on Shallow Grave, MacDonald gave Boyle $3.5m to play around with. In exchange for a $16m return. Not only did the film exceed expectations commercially, but additionally it garnered prizes and awards from all over the world. Empire’s ‘Best Director’ awarded Danny Boyle and, from Warsaw, he recieved the ‘Audience Award’. Even BAFTA awardded it ‘Best Feature’ in Scotland. It was even nominated for an Academy Award for Adapted-Screenplay… but John Hodge walked away empty handed. Together, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave changed the British Cinema landscape – clearly, Britain had alot to offer the world of cinema in the mid-nineties. So, obviously, after Britain does exceptionally well … Danny Boyle hops over to America to make the big-time.

This was originally published on 6th July 2010

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2 comments

  1. You're doing a great job with this retrospective of a filmmaker that certainly deserves attention.

    127 Hours is riveting — and Trainspotting is unlike anything I've ever seen.

    That said, I need to watch more of his work.

  2. Thanks Sam! Like noted at the bottom, the first four posts were written a few years back and have been updated accordingly. But the latest PART 5 is completely new and covers 127 Hours – right up until the Olympics Ceremony. Thanks for reading.

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