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Donnie Darko Director's Cut


Clint M
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Ain't It Cool News has one of the first "reviews".

spoilers1.gif are in the review, but the paragraph below has some details on what changes were made without revealing any real plot points:

It seemed unlikely that Richard Kelly would be able to improve on the stunning mix of regan-era teenage angst, superheros and hard sci-fi. And in fact the changes he did make are, for the most part, only cosmetic in nature. We do not learn anything that was not already in the movie or in the deleted scenes and other features on the DVD. Nor are the events as they occured in the original movie any different in the director's cut...

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Due to my day-job, I just can't make it worthwhile to bother getting a press pass to the SIFF. Nearly all of the press screenings are during the morning when I can't go. Very frustrating. I really wanted to see several of the features. I'm missing Garden State this morning.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Due to my day-job, I just can't make it worthwhile to bother getting a press pass to the SIFF. Nearly all of the press screenings are during the morning when I can't go. Very frustrating. I really wanted to see several of the features. I'm missing Garden State this morning.

Bummer. sad.gif

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A couple of more reviews (sorry, I culled these from another board and couldn't find the original articles:)

These do contain spoilers1.gif

By SEAN AXMAKER

SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER

GRADE: A

In Richard Kelly's visually imaginative and intellectually challenging debut film, Donnie is a contemporary Holden Caulfield in a grim and glorious world of nightmares and dreams: jet engines fall from an empty sky and alternate realities and time travel are as present as teen angst and high school melodrama. At least they are to Donnie, who can suddenly see the fabric of fate in the ectoplasmic trajectories that lead us to our destiny.

But it's also a frustrating world in which fatuous platitudes are offered in place of practical advice, where censorship hangs over dedicated teachers like a sword of Damocles, and where teenagers aren't trusted to handle the complexities of the world, even through the mirror of literature and philosophy.

Fiction predicted reality perfectly. Distributors thought that young audiences wouldn't understand the film and gave it a disastrous release to an urban adult audience in 2001. It was DVD that transformed it from box office flop to home video cult hit, a veritable phenomenon among teens and tweens, who connect with its inarticulate hero and debate the film in chat rooms, discussion forums and fan Web sites.

Using the momentum from its home video success, the producers are relaunching the film, hoping to find the audience that eluded it the first time around and entice the converted into the theater with a big screen experience and an even denser cinematic presentation.

While 20 minutes of additional footage doesn't transform the film, it enriches the characters (tender new scenes between Donnie and his family makes the heady conclusion even more devastating) and gives the science fiction underpinnings a stronger philosophy (albeit one closer to Philip K. Dick than Stephen Hawking).

But even while it "explains" Donnie's odyssey more clearly, it paradoxically opens the film up to alternate interpretations. Whether you think the tangent universe of "Donnie Darko" is real, dreamed or a schizophrenic hallucination, the wonderfully weird trip leaves you with meaty questions, both metaphysical and moral, and a journey through time-space that is, if anything, even more philosophically invigorating and emotionally intense.

And this one is supra- spoilers1.gif -riffic

Now for the Donnie Darko Director's Cut Q&A:

Okay these are the questions I remember that were asked. The director's comments and answers are all paraphrased since I didn't record it. But you'll get the general idea of what was said. They're probably a little out of order too.

Q: The organizer asked the first question. She told him that as a first time director, to have gotten a movie this good, this complex, and so offbeat, made in the first place is in itself a rarity. But not many first time directors get to see the only film they've ever done, released as a Director's Cut only 3 years later, and especially theatrically. She then asked him "How in the hell did you do it?!!"

A:Kelly's answer was that he was that he was a just a lucky, lucky bastard. Then he said it really was because of the fans. He said everyone involved in the film were very surprised at how well it did on DVD. Especially where they didn't market it at all. It was just a "grassroots" groundswell and word of mouth buzz that really launched it. So he then told the audience "it's because of you guys that we're all standing here tonight, so thank you!" And if I remember correctly at that point Drew turned to the audience and said "you guys Rock!" Of course, big round of applause for the that.

{Spoiler}

Q: Someone asked if the inclusion of the chapters and pages of the "Philosophy of Time Travel" book was something he wanted to do in the first place or was it something that came after.

A: Kelly said that he actually wrote the text of the Time Travel book during the editing process. He said it was always there in the back of his mind during the writing and filming, but it was king of fuzzy. It all came into focus during the editing. So they put it on the DVD and the internet and he felt including the portions of it that he did in the Director's cut helped make it a little more coherent, and rounded the movie out a lot more. He also liked the idea that for first time or casual movie goers who see the Director's cut they'll get the information from the book in the movie itself instead of having to search for it afterwards.

{/Spoiler}

Q: Someone told him about how this movie is being debated about all over the internet and how there seem to be hundreds of different interpretations and rumors about it. What are a couple of the misconceptions that you've heard of that you'd like to clear up once and for all.

A: He said that a lot of people think the Rabbit is evil. The rabbit is not evil. Not at all. He's just more of a guide helping Donnie figure out what he needs to do.

Another one is that he said a lot of people think this is a movie about mental illness. He said he doesn't see it that way at all. He sees it more as a science fiction movie, not so much because of the Time Travel, but because he sees Donnie as having been contacted by an intelligence. Donnie's got a job to do and there are huge consequences if he fails. Donnie realizes that the more things transgress. He said he thinks in the movie that Donnie has been contacted by an intelligence that is feeding the information he needs to complete the job. Whether it's an intelligence from the far, far future, or something else entirely we don't know. One think he likes to think the movie says is that maybe there is no such thing as mental illness. Maybe those people that we label as schizophrenics or whatever are just open to a lot more information than the rest of us. This got a little round of applause.

Other misconceptions come from the commentary of the DVD. He said him and Jake were joking around a lot on that and some of the things they said were just them kidding around. For instance, the rumor that Donnie Wahlberg (he mentioned someone else too) were offered the role of Donnie is just not true.

Another one is that they didn't have to digitally remove Jake's private parts in post production from the hypnosis scene. Remember when Donnie unbuttons his pants and reaches down there to fondle himself when the psychiatrist is asking him about girls and school. He said he doesn't know wher that idea came from but it's not true.

{Spoiler}

Q: Someone wanted to know why he changed the opening music to the INXS song "Never Tear Us Apart".

A: In the theatrical release, Echo and The Bunnymen's "Killing Moon" plays as Donnie rides his bike back home from the hills. He said it was always intended that way. In the script he even wrote it in to play over that scene. It sounded like they even edited it that way, and it does work well. He never did explain why he didn't use it in the first place. I wonder if perhaps there was a licensing issue or something.

{Spoiler}

Q: Continuing with the music, someone asked if he'd heard from either of the guys from Tears For Fears. He said it's obvious that their music is important to the film and he must be a big fan. Had he heard from them about how they felt about the movie.

A: Kelly said he hadn't heard personally from them, but when Gary Jules was touring Europe and his cover of "Mad World" was #1, Gary met both Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith and he said it sounds like because of people rediscovering their music, there's talk of a Tears For Fears reunion and a new album. He also said everyone else was very cool about letting them use their music. He said the guys from Echo and The Bunnymen sent him an autographed Box Set. He said Aimee Man let them have her "Voices Carry" for peanuts. She apparently went to the same High School that Kelly did (not at the same time), but she was very, very supportive. He said everyone who let them use their music was very cool and very supportive.

Q: The guy sitting next to me, and odd fellow I must add, wanted to know if he had any plans to do a sequel?

A: Before the director could say anything there was kind of a collective groan. He smiled and said No. He said he liked sequels and thought there were some great ones, but only when they're necessary. And he said he saw no reason that a sequel was necessary for Donnie Darko. Huge Round of Applause! He then turned to Jena and Mary and said "Not that I don't want to work with you talented ladies again. I do definitely want to work together again, but no, not in a Donnie Darko sequel." They both seemed as thrilled as the audience.

{Spoiler}

Q: Someone asked about the Eye montages. He wanted to know if the eye was something they shot with the first movie and didn't use or was it shot for the Director's cut. He also asked whose eye it was, and could he tell us what it symbolized.

A:Kelly seemed reluctant to answer both questions. He kind of dodged the "whose eye was it" question by saying that the eye was something they shot for the Director's cut but he didn't really want to get into whose eye it was or how they shot it. He said he always did kind of imagine the eye sequence but never got around to doing the first time. He said it kind of had something to do with the Deus Ex Machina idea that's talked about in the movie. He actually seemed kind of puzzled about the eye himself, which I found kind of interesting. It sounded like there were a few elements of the movie that even he wasn't quite sure what they were exactly. About the eye and the Deus Ex Machina reference, he said you could look at the eye both figuratively, or literally. Literally it you could say it was Donnie's eye and he was seeing it as part of his visions that were directing him along, or you could see it figuratively, kind of like an "eye of God" or something like that. He said you'll notice that overlay of the technological elements, the grid, the digital code, later the split screens and text, could mean that this eye was part of the intelligence that was directing the information being fed to Donnie. But then you have to think that the technological elements are far more advanced looking than anything that would have been seen in 1988, so maybe it was an eye from the distance future. He said "I don't know" quite a bit when describing the eye sequences, and you kind of got a feeling that these sequences were almost as puzzling to him as they were to us. Which I found kind of cool. Almost like they were visions of his own that he was still trying to figure out.

{Spoiler}

There was a group of film students from USC who traveled up to see the premiere, driving more than 14 hours one guy said, and a few of them asked about what advice he had for aspiring directors. He said the most important thing he could tell them was to just believe in your material. Make your material so good that they can't say no. And if you want to maintain creative control, if that's something that's important to you, don't give it up. He said when he was trying to get Donnie Darko made, the studios kept wanting to just buy the script from him and let someone else direct it. He kept refusing. He said some of the people at the studio were actually quite annoyed at him for not giving it up. They'd go for a few months and then come back with the attitude of "so are you ready to sell us that script yet?" and his response was only if I get to direct it. Sounded like it drove them nuts. They kept offering him little movies to direct first but he didn't want to do that. One movie he said they kept insisting he direct first was something called "Valentine". I've never heard of it. The audience just kind of laughed. Kelly said "Y'know I'm sure it was a great movie, but I can't really say for sure because I've never seen it. But it wasn't my movie. I wanted to direct my movie." Eventually he said he sent the script to a few people he had in mind for certain roles, most specifically Drew Barrymore. He said Drew immediately signed on and starting talking up his script and pulling strings. And he kind of laughed and said it kind of amazing how quickly the ball started rolling once Drew started showing interest. Then he said the more actors that signed on to the thing or started showing interest, the more momentum it gathered and it eventually got to the point that the studio couldn't refuse anymore. So his advice was to just believe in your material so much that you make other people believe in it too.

Someone asked how useful to his success was his experiences at USC's filmschool. He said for him it was very important, but he said he thinks it was because he made his education important. He said he used the resources available there, used the faculty and just did everything he could to get the most out of the resources available. So he said Yes, filmschool was important to him. But did he think that you needed to go to filmschool to be a good, successful screenwriter, or director, and the answer was absolutely not. He said you can go to the shittiest community college in the world and still get a good education, it just depended on how much you put into it.

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anybody make it to the seattle film fest??

Not for Donnie -- the $12 tickets were all gone by the time I heard about it and they only had $25 tickets left -- but we did see Primer and enjoyed the Q&A afterward with the writer, director, star.

We are going to see Garden State this on June 11 at the Cinerama.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hmmm. The Cinematheque is going to host the Vancouver premiere of Donnie Darko in August, but they don't specify whether it's the original cut or the director's cut.

http://www.cinematheque.bc.ca/JulyAugust04/DonnieDarko.html

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Apple just posted the trailer for the director's cut. A few new things (the eyeball shots that have been mentioned before, and I caught a glimpse of an animated sequence), but a lot of the imagery looked very familiar.

And I love how they "proudly present" film, when it got absolutely no support the first time around. Oh well, better late than never.

BTW... here's the original trailer (which is still pretty freakin' cool after all this time).

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally saw Donnie Darko, and must admit I'm trying to work it all out, but really drawn in. I found myself up at 3 this morning trying to suss it out & re-watching the first half hour and the last 15 minutes.

Just a few (seemingly ignorant) questions

spoilers1.gif

1 - 2nd time through could Donnie not have got out of his room, gone through the whole thing, but just not gone to the garage at the end.

2 - Did Donnie really have any control over what went on. Someone somewhere here said that he chose to save his Mum and sister from the plane crash how did this work? How did they then not die, and how can the engine fall out of the sky once on 2nd October once on 30th October?

3 - The opening scene where he wakes up on the road & cycles back to the village overjoyed. Chronologically speaking is this from the end of the film. Like does he come back t life. If not how has he got there as he hasn't met the bunny yet?

By the way I loved the way that the second time through you pick up the subtle things of how Barrymore & Wyle are together. Also is Swayze's closing crying scene meant to be a sign that he is repenting for his dodgy behaviour.

And is there any way that explains it for us? I know this is cheating and ruind the enjoyment of platienty gleaning these things from repeated viewings but I'm too impatient!

Matt

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Found DD on DVD at Best Buy for $10 so I picked it up based on a lot of good things I'd heard. Watched it last week and was really impressed; what a breath of fresh air! So many questions, wonderful atmosphere, fantastic music, great camera work, strong performances. I have ideas about some things but I've decided I'm not going to try and figure the whole thing out right away. These things take time, you know!

I'll look forward to seeing the director's cut sometime but I'm ok at the moment. I still need to listen to the commentary track so that'll keep me occupied for a while.

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CTmovies.com discovers teens love Donnie Darko.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Guest Russell Lucas

The Director's Cut is playing at one of my favorite local theaters for a week beginning tomorrow. I'm hoping to see it this weekend. The theater's got a cult film series on weekends in the summer, and if I play my cards right, a double feature of DD and The Warriors (which I've not yet seen) could be in my future.

Did anyone here ever get around to seeing it? My take on the original was that it was pretty great in large part, but contained a little bit of plot clunkiness and disparate plot threads (esp. involving the firing of Barrymore's teacher character) that seemed to reflect the director's newness and/or awe at having a few big names in the cast. The tons of deleted scenes on the DVD made me further think that he had been a bit too diffuse in his storytelling. I'm hoping the new cut will tie the room together, and that I'll be able to say I was wrong.

Edited by Russell Lucas
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Yes, I saw it when it played at SIFF. Gotta, say I was a little dissappointed. Seems like he dumbed it down to make it more commercial. One of the reason's I loved Donnie Darko is that it doesn't fully explain the science behind what's going on, or even exactly what's going on.

He made some changes too. The opening song is defferent, and the audience reaction to Charita's dance is much more enthusiastic. That totally ruined that scene for me. Mostly he just extended scenes to run a little longer or start a little earlier that the Original cut. To me the timing of the film is off now.

Anyway it didn't ruin the film for me, but I don't think I'll be replacing my Original cut DVD with this version.

Exagerate the essential. Leave the obvious vague. ---Vincent Van Gogh

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When Croaker and Friend came out of that screening, their collective responses persuaded me not to spend my money on seeing this on the big screen, for what it's worth. I'm quite happy with my studio-cut DVD and its fantastic extras. I don't want to soil the experience by seeing an unnecessary director's cut that replaces some of the perfectly-chosen soundtrack sequences, much less have some of those great scenes altered.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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FYI, I'm right now listening to a story on NPR about Donnie Darko. They're talking about the midnight showing, the gradual growth in its popularity, the various interpretations, and the director's cut.

You can hear the story at NPR's Morning Edition Web site.

--Teresa

There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which nobody knows; and we generally say, "Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn't believe it." --from Magnolia
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hmmm, I don't think we ever ahemed the original 'director's cut' thread or linked to the existing 'fishing for meaning' thread.

Anyway, I caught the film at the Cinematheque tonight, and since all the copyright dates at the end were 2001, and since the film was a bit scratchy, and since there weren't any scenes that leapt out at me as new or unusual (I've seen the film once before, on video), I assume we were NOT watching the 'director's cut'. Which is kind of odd. I mean, this was the first time Donnie Darko has been shown in ANY theatre in Vancouver -- the film never had Canadian distribution -- and it seems odd to be showing THIS version when the 'director's cut' had its premiere a few months ago. Ah well.

Really liked it this time around. Its use of '80s music and '80s TV clips is perfect. And what a treat to see this film again now that I know who Maggie Gyllenhaal is.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

Finally! The Director's Cut came to my hometown. I might say more later, but I found this version much more interesting and complete than the original theatrical cut. Enjoyed it fully.

(Plus, it was nice to watch the film with a full audience that LOVED Donnie Darko. When the opening credits came on, everyone quit talking - and this was an auditorium full of mostly high school students! That was a nice treat in addition to the film itself.)

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  • 1 month later...

Here's the sleeve art for the DVD release (due out on February 15, 2005).

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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  • 1 month later...

Ok folks,

Last night I finally saw this film. It took awhile for the Director's Cut to come up to my suburbs, and it undoubtedly would've been dropped when this Wednesday's crop would've replaced it, so I caught it on the big screen just in time.

I've also been catching up on the various explanations of the film. The one thing that strikes me as the elephant in the room (which nobody has really addressed, or perhaps I'm missing something)--is that the DD tries to be both spiritual but also anti-religion. The religious characters are looked upon with general disdain, particularly that of the "God is awesome" teacher who's successful in dropping Graham Greene's books. And though I'm not familiar with the book that they dropped, I was familiar with Greene, (because of the movies "Quiet American", "End of the Affair" and "The Third Man."). I was surprised they mentioned him at all, since it seemed so out of place when I was in high school English.

I also thought it odd that the horror-double feature combined "The Evil Dead" and "The Last Temptation of Christ", I knew that was the writer's hinting at the audience. And I did think the whole hallucination sequence at the end of TLTOC provided a lovely hint as to what was going on in the film. But other than that, I found myself questioning why.

Also, was there a significance to the "Watership Down" scene they showed? Blood, everywhere!! It couldn't be all about the bunny rabbit, could it?

But, anyway, I thought it to be a great cerebral exercise, a well-acted/directed film with great 80s songs, that perhaps reflects the current zietgiest a little too well--distrustful of organized religion, but flip-flopping on general spirituality. On the one hand, we're all pre-destined by these blobs (reminded me of The Abyss), and on the other hand, he's declared an agnostic.

So I'm confused. But it's a good confused, unlike the ugly confused I got when finishing Mulholland Dr.

Nick

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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