Donnie Darko

I’m on mini-vacation in Lincoln, Nebraska, today, and took the time to watch Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut. I had already seen Donnie Darko (original version) twice, and I was expecting something slightly better (based on reviews of friends).

A Greencine interview with the Director reveals:

To many people, Donnie Darko was simply a flop that quickly dropped out of American theaters in the fall of 2001 with a paltry $515,000 in earnings, a fraction of its under-$5 million budget. But then something curious happened. It became a minor hit in Britain and a staple on the midnight movie circuit, and was discovered by a whole new crowd when it was released on DVD, where it’s rung up over $10 million in sales and remains a top seller on Amazon. The dense, demanding, imaginative and elusive tale of a contemporary Holden Caulfield in a grim and glorious world of nightmares and dreams and alternate realities took hold in the imagination of teenagers and high school kids.

Its post-theatrical success led an almost unprecedented experiment: Donnie Darko may be the first “flop” given a new theatrical life by a director’s cut.

The director’s cut is a whole other movie. For a feal of the difference: imagine that the director’s cut of Farenheit 9/11 revealed that John Kerry was Osama bin Laden in disguise.

So many changes were made to the film that I was able to watch it with new eyes. The effect of added and changed dialog is quite enjoyable, and lets me appreciate both versions as seperate works around the same motif. Perhaps tdaxp film gurus Rob and Biz will be able to further describe the movies.

Good job, Hollywood!

3 thoughts on “Donnie Darko”

  1. I haven’t seen the new version yet, but I listened to the directors commentary on the first version and it was strange, like he thought Donnie was a superhero. Wacky stuff.

  2. I haven’t seen it either but I’ve heard more bad things than good, like they give too much away. I honestly don’t have any interest in seeing it since I liked the original so much. Most director’s cuts seem to have too much filler put back in because they liked some performance or camera work. The original cut is usually the one with unnecessary scenes cut out, keeping only what is required to move the story forward. Director’s cuts can be overindulgent to the point of boring an audience. This isn’t the case all the time. The Director’s Cut of Bladerunner is the classic example of a superior version.

  3. If you really liked the original Donnie Darko, it’s probably worth seeing the director’s cut. It lets you understand the original better by highlighting the difference.

    The Donnie Darko director’s cut isn’t as bad as the Blade Runner director’s cut. In that, the director practically has Harrison Ford holding a sign with the ending in the first scene. The suspense element in the original Donnie Darko is given away right away, but the director’s cut of Donnie Darko introduces drama in its own way. The ending scene is actually explained, too.

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