4. Speaking of “127 Hours,” Danny Boyle doesn’t like Phish
Boyle’s mountain climbing drama starring James Franco is based on the story of Aron Ralston, a climbing-enthusiast who survived a near fatal canyoneering accident in 2003 by amputating his own arm with a dull knife. If you’ve seen the movie and ever seen real clips of Ralson’s would-be goodbye messages to his parents, you’ll know no attention to detail was spared. Franco wears pretty much the exact hat and shirt and the videos he shoots in the film are directly inspired from the videos Ralston shot when he assumed he was going to die. But there was one detail that was a dealbreaker for Boyle: Ralston’s love of the jamband Phish. Boyle’s said his iTunes “most listened to” section could attest, he went and bought all the Phish albums and tried to find a song he could put into the movie. "I tried with Phish," Boyle laughed. "I bought everything and listened to it multiple times, but I found it very, very difficult." (Trainspotters will note: Trey Anastasio‘s "Sleeping Monkey" is used in the film so that’s kinda close).
5. Speaking of The Clash, Boyle tried to use another song in one of his films, but backed out on his own accord.
“The business does hover over everything and it’s waiting to destroy you if you let it,” Boyle said at one point about the machinations of the film industry. He even said a variation of it twice and said he was once duped by it too. He wanted to use the Clash’s "Hitsville U.K." at the end of his pandemic movie “28 Days Later,” but was talked out of it by a studio exec. Boyle said he wouldn’t have admitted it then, but now deeply regrets the decision. "I got talked out of it by the business," he said. “The way it can slightly change and poison things... a record deal was offered if we used this other song at the end and we did and I always hated myself for that.” Boyle says he slightly corrected himself by using the song in his sweet children’s movie “Millions” (another riff on money and greed that’s seriously underrated, btw). “But they do mean that much to me personally. They are your life,” he said. “Your relationship with songs, especially your favorite ones exist over decades. It’s like a family photograph. They’re something that shouldn’t be missued and should be used [in films] with as much care as possible.”
I also overheard Boyle telling someone after the Q&A that his favorite album was Sandinista because it was a type of a “fuck you” to the record label (because it’s triple album and 36 tracks long), but that everyone also obviously loves London Calling (obviously).
6. “Trance” has two David Bowie references in them.
Boyle told the audience that a sequence from “Trance” (which he showed the audience) had a David Bowie reference in it and in fact there were two. Yours truly spotted both, called them out and was told I was getting a prize (it never came, but bragging rights is more than enough). Without spoiling too much, one reference is a musical cue from 1977’s Low and the other is an album cover reference from Lodger (both classic albums produced by Brian Eno; another Boyle favorite). Both of them are blink-and-you’ll-miss them references so keep your ears and eyes attuned in the opening heist sequence of the film.
Extra credit: I asked Boyle afterwards a question I had meant to ask in the Q&A and got picked over: after a career where music is so important, why not a musical? Before I could bring up “My Fair Lady” (something he was rumored to be attached to), Boyle gave a kinda disappointed, head shake and agreed, that he should have tackled the genre by now. In fact, he said, in retrospect, he should have done “Millions” as a musical even suggesting that if someone were going to do a stage version of one of his films, that should be the one.
"Trance" opens in U.S. theaters on April 5th in limited release.