30 Days of Film: Bel's day 16

| by Bel | 11.29am NZ time |

A film that you used to love but now hate

Let me clarify immediately. I do not hate Donnie Darko. I love Donnie Darko and always will.

What I hate is the re-release "director's cut" version of Donnie Darko.

The original film had a very short run at the cinema and achieved its cult following after it came out on DVD. I was lucky enough to catch it at the NZ International Film Festival and was instantly smitten.

However, eventually Richard Kelly put together a "director's cut" version, stating that his debut had been let done by a lack of funds for special effects, music licensing etc.

I excitedly went to the movies in the middle of the day, expecting to joyously watch one of my favourite films.

Within moments my nerdy heart sunk and I knew I was going to experience nothing but disappointment. Because that iconic and perfectly balanced opening sequence, of Donnie waking on the ridge-top road and cycling back down to his home, had been mutilated beyond repair: they'd stuck a different song on. No more Echo and the Bunnymen. No more warm-fuzzy feelings from that first three minutes of screentime.

And from there it only got worse. Digital effects were used to overlay pages from Roberta Sparrow's book, making the mysterious time travel themes condescendingly obvious.

The intrigue and ambiguity which made the original so compelling was stripped right out, and instead we got to watch completely thought-unprovoking screen-saver-esque footage to spell out the plot.

Any and all deleted scenes were jammed back in, making the film 1) longer and 2) cluttered with unnecessary detail on characters which the viewer has already embraced.

There may be a chance that there's still people out there who haven't see Donnie Darko at all. I would implore that you seek out the original release and avoid the director's cut version like the plague.

If you would like to read more on the differences between the Donnie Darkos, check out other irate fans here and here.

(And let's not even mention the straight-to-video "sequel".)

4 thoughts on “30 Days of Film: Bel's day 16”

  1. Ooh, totally foxy new blog design, ladies!

    I discovered the original on DVD about a year after it was in the festival, and we obsessively watched all the extras, including some of the commentary. I loved some of the cut scenes, but appreciated that the film didn't need them. So when when the director's cut came out, I remember saying (to the same people I had watched all the extras with) 'But what is there to put in that we haven't already seen?' and having heard that it was pants (though not as pants as his other films, mind) I skipped it.

    The only thing I would be curious about would be the dancing scene - are they dancing to West End Girls? Because I have a vague idea that (cough) this is what they were actually choreographed to. But getting rid of The Killing Moon at the start? That is a hang-able offence.

  2. Nope, I'm pretty sure they still dance to (nuh-nuh-nuh) Notorious.

    And thanks! We quite like the spruce up too :D

  3. It cracks me up that:
    a) we were at the same film fest screening of DD and thus our love affairs with the film start from the same point... but we didn't really know each other back then (who knew that we would one day have a shared blog with a film meme on which this film could be discussed), and

    b) when you came in to the film commish to say hi to me and I told you my job was becoming available which you subsequently applied for (not that you wouldn't have anyway) which led to us working together, you were off to see the Director's Cut. (Or perhaps you had just seen it and come up after.)

    DD is on my blocking list where I haven't seen it for a few years in anticipation of getting to watch it almost "new" again and getting a taster of the initial gloriousness felt when you see a great film for the first time.

    NB: I have never seen the Director's Cut.


    But nah, it would've been beforehand, because after the screening I wasn't capable of much more than kicking rubbish tins and yelling at seagulls.

    Excellent plan to hold off on the re-watch. I think it will be immensely satisfying - eventually. I am still too traumatised to make an attempt.