The question can sound banal because everyone would say "Trainspotting", but I am just watching a late-soviet movie from 1987 called "Burglar" and I noticed a man in the crowd with a t-shirt with words looking very like 'Choose life', I can't say exactly, because he is partially hidden by other people.

The t-shirt was for sure imported from western countries to the USSR, but how did these words get to it if the original Trainspotting was released in 1996?

Or it means that in Trainspotting this was borrowed too? Please share your thoughts!

Here are the snapshots of this:




I have also found a t-shirt in an online store looking very similar and seems like they associate it with Trainspotting too as there are the words from it on the right:


  • the hairstyles in those Russian stills... priceless!
    – Shiz Z.
    Jul 24, 2014 at 17:57
  • Soviet Union was not only about bears, vodka and communists threatening the world with nuclear missiles :). Jul 24, 2014 at 18:02
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    Your question doesn't explain the connection to Trainspotting; you just assume we all know whether there is some matching reference to this phrase in that film. Jul 24, 2014 at 21:00
  • If you google it, you will get Trainspotting article in Wikipedia first. Secondly I assume this site to be for movie fans, most of them should know this cult 90's movie. Jul 24, 2014 at 21:04
  • @SergeyBasharov When I google Choose Life, Trainspotting comes up fourth, after a link to Deuteronomy and links to two different Pro-Life sites, which is what I would have expected. It's use in Trainspotting has a slightly different meaning than it does for these. Jul 24, 2014 at 23:18

2 Answers 2


But the phrase is not exclusive to Trainspotting. It comes from the Bible (Deuteronomy 30:19), and the design in the pictures you posted looks like the T-shirt popularized by the Wham! video for Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go in 1984 (you can see it from the very start):

The T shirt was designed by Katarine Hamnett; Wiki discusses its original purpose and later use:

The "CHOOSE LIFE" slogan in the context of the day was directed at drug abuse and suicide. Because it is found in the Bible... it has been used by the pro-life movement to encourage a choice against abortion, even appearing on license plates in 27 states.


The phrase was common on T-Shirts in the 80's, I understood it at the time (and now) to be used to encourage young women to not have abortions.

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