Sunday, February 20, 2005

Donnie Darko: Director's Cut

Donnie Darko is one of those movies that I would term a modern "cult classic."

It barely made any money at the box office (probably, in part, due to the fact that it debuted the weekend after the 9/11 attacks when movies were low on most people's lists of priorities), and scarcely registered on anyone's radar of "important" films for a good long time. I remember seeing the poster for the film (featuring the frightening yet enigmatic image of Frank the bunny) and wanting to see the film. Then I saw the trailer and wanted to see it more. The fact that Saskatoon does not get that many small independent films meant that I had to wait for it's video debut to see the film (which I distinctly remember watching in a double bill with Training Day). I was impressed with the film for the most part. The story was engaging, full of humour, mystery and a sense of dread that worked well within the framework of the film. However, challenge me at the time to explain to you what exactly happened in the film would have been beyond me. That, I felt, was part of the problem and part of the appeal of the film. The open-endedness of the film meant that it could be about whatever you wanted it to be about (sexual exploration, time travel, mental illness), but it was hard to really decide whether there was anything substantial to the story at all.

That is both the appeal and downside to the new Director's Cut which I purchased the other day and watched tonight. The film makes a lot more sense now. Apparently director Richard Kelly wasn't completely happy with the way the film was being interpreted and set about making a cut that made his intentions slightly more clear and the film has a more easily explainable and reasonable flow to it. It seems that this article at has things pretty much right (and is some pretty interesting reading on its own). All in all, I'm glad I bought the Director's Cut, which is a solid half-hour longer and fits well with my own interpretations of the film. However, for those who found part of the fun was making up your own outrageous interpretations (not that Kelly's film is any less mind-boggling), this version might take away some of the fun.


At 9:02 a.m., Blogger Luke said...

i went through the Salon Article, and got the few little peices i was missing(like who was that fat guy in the jogging suit). Having read all of this and watched the film over 10 times i've come to two differeing opinions about Richard Kelly. 1) This film could have been the results of mistakes by a first time director. 2) This film could be Richard Kelly having fun with the population and testing our intellegence. It's like he had a bed with his buddies to see, if he gave us a time travel plot no more complex than "back to the future" or "terminator", but did not tell us directly what was going, how many people would get it. I'm leaning towards number two.
If he put out this seemingly complex, ambigous film, with a complex website, he seems to be trying to test somthing.If not us then maybe he's testing movie/story telling conventions. It seems like in 2001 he gave us a multiple choice test. Not the straight forward, A,B,C kind. But one with D, and E that has choices like "both a nd b" or "none of the above." Now in 2004 he has given us the anwser sheet, maybe not a complete answer sheet, but enough for us to correct our own tests.
anyway i'm interested on hearing what Kevin Smith has to say about the film.


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