The only way to unwind the future is to follow the path
June 21, 2004 2:29 PM   Subscribe

What if you could go back in time, and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?
posted by shoepal (47 comments total)
(last link sorta contains spoilers of the AICN variety)
posted by shoepal at 2:36 PM on June 21, 2004

This isn't a new film.
posted by agregoli at 2:37 PM on June 21, 2004

excellent post!
posted by tcp at 2:42 PM on June 21, 2004

Sounds like Star Trek V.
posted by keswick at 2:45 PM on June 21, 2004

Hey, the stainless steel rat! I used to have several of those books.

posted by kenko at 2:53 PM on June 21, 2004

Perhaps I'm a cretin, but this movie made no sense to me. I have read the semi-offical explanation, but still am baffled by certain points. Can anyone explain:

Darkos ability to see the "future trails"?
Frank was dead? How could he walk and talk?
How did Frank time travel / appear conveniently in the right place and time?

Without giving away spoilers, the screenwriters decision to go nuclear with implausible physics kind of pissed me off.
posted by phatboy at 2:53 PM on June 21, 2004

Here's a review of the DVD release that confronts my personal major problem with this movie:
The main problem, the huge problem, the rotting-elephant-carcass-in-the-middle-of-the-dining-room problem is that there is no conceivable way for even the most astute viewer to deduce Kelly's metaphysical construct from the film itself. The phrases "Tangent Universe," "Living Receiver," "Manipulated Dead," etc., never appear in the film. Kelly's version of reality isn’t ambiguous, which would suggest that it could be one of several competing explanations for the movie's mysteries. It's not even obscure, something that could only be gleaned from watching the film over and over again. Rather, it is impenetrable. It is opaque. You can't get there from here.
That about sums it up for me.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:59 PM on June 21, 2004

They're re-releasing a director's version of the film (if you've seen the deleted scenes on the DVD you'll understand why).
posted by The God Complex at 3:04 PM on June 21, 2004

The director's cut is bad news. He changed a lot of the music that set and moved the film so well ( he removed the Echo & The Bunnymen song from the perfect intro and put instead INXS's Never Tear Us Apart-- wtf?); he added a lot of cheese computer graphics; he added text excerpts from the Philosophy of Time Travel book which made some points too explicit and therefore unchallenging and feeling flat and still failed entirely to explain other points.

Donnie Darko doesn't completely come together or 100% make sense but it still makes (at least) my heart warm and my mind wander and that's more than what can be said for 95% of films coming out of the American industry.

It's a great film and an amazing feat for a first time director.
posted by xmutex at 3:13 PM on June 21, 2004

Though this is one of my favorite movies, I don't think that the wider audience this release is going to reach will understand this movie. I think that most of the people who would appreciate it have already seen it. But that doesn't mean I won't be paying $9 (for once it will be worth it!) to see it in the theaters.

On preview: He took the Echo and the Bunnymen song out?!
posted by bitpart at 3:14 PM on June 21, 2004

Oh, and it perfectly captured that confusing whimsy and melancholy that I remember high school being.
posted by xmutex at 3:15 PM on June 21, 2004

bitpart: Yeah. The music in general is drastically redone and it makes you realize how much of a film's effect is in its soundtrack. I was really disappointed.
posted by xmutex at 3:16 PM on June 21, 2004

When I walked away from Donnie Darko, I was left with a feeling that I'd liked watching the film immensely, but still couldn't understand why at least a dozen friends had insisted I absolutely-oh-my-god-must-see-this-film.

The music was really what made it most enjoyable for me. Gary Jules's cover of "Mad World" was beautiful and followed me around for days like an insane bunny rabbit.
posted by u.n. owen at 3:16 PM on June 21, 2004

Hopefully this movie will see better commercial success this time around. Like most people I only found out about it on DVD and would love to see it in a movie theater. I remember seeing a list of the movies that were the best and worse returns on investments and Donnie Darko was on the top 10 losers list. Something like $500,000 return on a $4,500,000 budget.
posted by revgeorge at 3:19 PM on June 21, 2004

The irony here.
What if you could go back in time

posted by thomcatspike at 3:20 PM on June 21, 2004

I wouldn't say the music is drastically redone. Aside from the INXS/Bunnymen swap (and "The Killing Moon" is still in there, later, isn't it?), what changes were made?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:34 PM on June 21, 2004

I have fondness for this flawed movie out of having been in HS during the same period the movie is set in. I wrote about it in detail a while ago.
posted by john at 3:36 PM on June 21, 2004

mr_roboto: The mix of various songs, including The Church's 'Under the Milky Way' during the party scene (as well as the Joy Division song therein), and there generally seemed to be less of the orchestral score over scenes.
posted by xmutex at 3:39 PM on June 21, 2004

xmutex: Can you be more specific? I can't find a comparison on the web anywhere. I just saw the director's cut last week, but it's been awhile since I saw the original release, and it's driving me crazy that I can't remember it well enough to tell how the music was changed. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was playing as Donnie and Gretchen walked down the stairs hand-in-hand in the original cut, wasn't it?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:50 PM on June 21, 2004

xmutex I am really surprised that they changed the opening, that was one of the best song-based openings ever! And Echo and the Bunnymen seemed to be the perfect band to set the tone for the entire picture, I just can't imagine it without that tune. Weird choice.
posted by chaz at 3:58 PM on June 21, 2004

mr_roboto: Joy Division was playing at the beginning of the party scene, The Church afer they come down from the bedroom. In the director's cut, the JD song was mixed well below the ambient party sounds (not so in the original) and in the director's cut, it is an entirely different section of The Church song.

I am being way too anal retentive about my criticisms, perhaps, but these sorts of changes changed the way the whole thing felt to watch.
posted by xmutex at 3:58 PM on June 21, 2004

One thing I hoped Kelly changed was when the liquid spear beckoned Donnie with a finger to lure him to the gun in his parent's closet. That was just ridiculous.
posted by bitpart at 4:02 PM on June 21, 2004

I was going to say this but found it well said in one of the post's links: "Go to and try and complete the web site. The web site gives a huge amount of additional information, and is arguably essential viewing to completely understand the film."
posted by Tubes at 4:06 PM on June 21, 2004

I haven't seen the film, but if you need to go outside the film (to a website, a videogame, an anime, etc.) to actually get salient and crucial points about the film, the film has failed.
posted by solistrato at 4:22 PM on June 21, 2004

Warning: Self Link

One of the posts on my blog has managed to become a forum for people searching for Donnie Darko info. It's mostly full of crap, but there are a few interesting things there.

As for the new cut - not sure I will see it in the cinema (didn't see the original in the cinema), but I will definitely rent it. I'm not likely to buy it though - I already own the first version on DVD.
posted by Orange Goblin at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2004

I liked Donnie Darko after a friend recommended the DVD. I didn't have a problem "getting it" since it obviously required some suspension of belief.

And for about a year leading up seeing the movie, I'd be sitting at a stop light and have a flash feeling a jet engine was going to crush my car [I'd also sometimes have thoughts that the engine would land on my car or on my apartment without me in it]. So I had some crazy connection to the movie from the second I saw it.
posted by birdherder at 4:39 PM on June 21, 2004

"It is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done." --- Oscar Wilde

I was really psyched for the re-release until I started reading more about the "additions" and changes. Now I'm a bit leery. I'm not necessarily opposed to change (though I am very attached to the original) and I respect the fact that Kelly has finally been able to make DD the film he always wanted it to be, I do worry that the Director's Cut is going to tread heavily on or eschew altogether some of the better aspects of the original. It's a double-edged sword, I suppose. What I do find rather amusing/uplifting, is the fact that the DVD sales (and to some extent the success of Mel Gibson's Passion) made the Directors Cut and a potentially wide-spread re-release possible. How often do films that grossed a half a million at the theatre get a second chance?

And more importantly, just because you can revisit something, does that mean you should change it? (which is why I found the quote from the film to be an apt foundation for the post)
posted by shoepal at 5:13 PM on June 21, 2004

Maybe it's just my taste, but "more explanation" in a film like Donnie Darko would be a serious mistake. A significant part of the attraction for me is the very ambiguity it sounds like this "director's version" is designed to dispel. That's like saying Hamlet would benefit from having the Cliff's Notes projected onto screens on the proscenium during the performance, simply because the Dane's motives are often dark and obscure.
posted by JollyWanker at 5:23 PM on June 21, 2004


Can anyone explain:
Darkos ability to see the "future trails"?

Frank rescues Donnie from dying from the jet engine, which causes him to enter a sort of limbo inbetween universes where time is no longer a constant. Every time is the present, although Donnie doesn't yet realize it. The "trails" are the paths people will, are going to and have taken. Because it is always "now," Donnie is able to see the future as if it is the present.

Frank was dead? How could he walk and talk?
Frank isn't dead. Frank is trapped inbetween universes and is eternal, much like Donnie will become after the end of the world. He is trapped in an infinite loop and saves Donnie so he won't be alone.

How did Frank time travel / appear conveniently in the right place and time?
Because Frank is inbetween temporal universes, time has no effect. It is always "now" to him and he can exist in any portion of that "now." However, he can't escape the endless loop of creation and destruction.

...of course, that's just my take on things. Donnie Darko reminds me of the ending to Stanley Kubrick's 2001. It's completely subjective and open to interpretation, which is what makes it so interesting and enjoyable to watch in a group.
posted by fatbobsmith at 5:42 PM on June 21, 2004

Maybe it's just my taste, but "more explanation" in a film like Donnie Darko would be a serious mistake.

The director's version doesn't add much in the way of explanation. The most "explanatory" new elements are stills of pages from "The Philosophy of Time Travel", but if you've seen them on the DVD or the web site, you know that they don't explain much, being, as they are, filled with strange jargon. They really serve more to add another layer of complexity and an atmosphere of mystery.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:45 PM on June 21, 2004

That scene where Donnie is talking things over with his shrink, and the conversation becomes more quiet as it becomes more and more intimate, and then he shouts, well, watch the movie to see what he shouts, is definitely one of the best uses of pace and scene volume to create a truly jump-inducing moment. Can easily be seen as a cheap trick(like the head popping out of the sunken fishing boat in the diving scene in Jaws), but I thought the scene's impact was interesting because the movie had been so quiet, and Donnie hadn't appeared to be afraid till then, that the dramatic transition conveyed very clearly that Donnie was actually feeling extremely traumatized by events, and was in fact scared as hell.

By no means a perfect movie, maybe not even a coherent movie, but lots and lots of very well done scenes, I thought.
posted by dglynn at 5:45 PM on June 21, 2004

To paraphrase what I once yelled to Lucas:

posted by WolfDaddy at 5:57 PM on June 21, 2004

"Rosebud" was his sled.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:57 PM on June 21, 2004

interesting connection between gregg araki's nowhere and donnie darko: james duval ('dark smith' in nowhere) plays frank the bunny in donnie darko — the same 'character' as the alien.
posted by kliuless at 6:34 PM on June 21, 2004

Taking out the Echo and the Bunnyman song is inexcusable.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:01 PM on June 21, 2004

The film comany guy who said to some film exec guy "why don't we rerelease Donnie Darko in cinemas, now that every fucker on the planet has heard about how great it is?", is certainly wanking with a paper-money-covered hand right now. He's fucking rolling in it, I bet. Or he will be, when the rerelease, with 20 minutes of wonderfully Star Wars: Special Editionesque footage hits the theatres. I mean, really. What a perfect idea. It'll cost the studio a pittance to film or forge the new scenes, but the massive office box income will more, I imagine, recoup the loss of the first release.

That said, I love Donnie Darko. I saw it in the cinema in the week it existed here in the UK, and have owned three (3!) different DVD editions of it since. And yeah, of course I'll go see the new version. And yeah, of course I'll buy the fucking DVD.

And yeah, on preview, taking out the Echo and the Bunnyman song is inexcusable. Really.
posted by armoured-ant at 8:04 PM on June 21, 2004

I'll have to see the final version to judge for myself, but if anyone here (and I imagine some have) watched the deleted scenes (with commentary) on the first disc, you probably had the same reaction I did to about 95% of them: why wasn't that in the movie (particularly the one where he comes up to view his family laughing and having a good time while he silently watches from the doorway, an outsider in his own family). Because of budget reasons with small films, Kelly was unable to use these scenes--for that reason I am happy he had a second shot at the film and hope he has used some of this extra footage.

If it's different, it's different. I already have one version of the film and I'm not opposed to having another if it's good enough.
posted by The God Complex at 8:08 PM on June 21, 2004

Hopefully this movie will see better commercial success this time around. ... I remember seeing a list of the movies that were the best and worse returns on investments and Donnie Darko was on the top 10 losers list. Something like $500,000 return on a $4,500,000 budget.

Not trying to troll, but Donnie Darko isn't even in the top 20 biggest losers(scroll to the bottom). You do have the budget and US gross numbers ballparked though. You can see that the worldwide gross is much closer to its budget, but still below it. I don't remember where I saw it, but DD made about $10,000,000 after video sales. Luckily it didn't turn out to be a loss in the end.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:14 PM on June 21, 2004

Such a great film. I'm glad they're rereleasing it. (I think it's initial poor box office performance was connection to its release shortly after 9/11, and this plus its current cult following suggests it deserved another chance.) I think the haunting "Mad World" is also getting a second or third wind now -- I heard it in a Cosi restaurant soundtrack a few weeks ago.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:10 PM on June 21, 2004

Am I the only one who loved the movie but had to avert my eyes in fear any time bunny-suit Frank came on the screen? Certainly the wrong time to cite the "uncanny gap," but I think his similarities to and subtle differences from actual humans really freaked me out.

(yet I have absolutely no problems with the violence of Tarantino or the gore of Silence of the Lambs)
posted by themadjuggler at 9:15 PM on June 21, 2004

If you like time-"travel" movies, Butterfly Effect is well worth the video rental. It's got some big continuity holes (hard to avoid given the genre), but the story is good enough to make up for that.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2004

Donnie Darko blew me away. It's the only thriller-ish film in my collection.

The opening song fits perfectly, he really shouldn't have messed with it. Perhaps the pages from Philosophy of Time Travel are a good touch, since they make the mystery more accessible and by no means disambiguate everything. What I think it would really benefit from is dubbing and incorporating the missing scenes as seen on the DVD (they really are good) and fixing the CGI.

I was going to go into why it's such a great movie, but there's too much to list.
posted by azazello at 10:50 PM on June 21, 2004

The worst part in the director's cut is when he goes into his parent's bedroom and finds the walkie talkie.
posted by drezdn at 10:54 PM on June 21, 2004

logic and emotion = commotion
posted by Satapher at 2:42 AM on June 22, 2004

I haven't seen the film, but if you need to go outside the film (to a website, a videogame, an anime, etc.) to actually get salient and crucial points about the film, the film has failed.

Ten years ago, maybe. Nowadays, I don't think so. We live in a world where most cinemagoers also watch TV, read magazines, and can use the Internet. If you can get a deeper insight into something with backup from other media, I think that enriches the experience. Having the Internet available certainly enriched my experience of Kubrick's 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and Eyes Wide Shut when I saw them (all within the last few years). Even though I basically understood all of these films, there were some points I missed or hadn't managed to extrapolate myself, and it was fascinating to see some of the ideas people had.

Magnolia is another film which the Internet is useful for.. as the movie has so many references and points that an unconnected viewer couldn't possibly pick up on.
posted by wackybrit at 6:54 AM on June 22, 2004

I agree, azazello. Though I enjoyed the ambiguity of the original, I'm really looking forward to the incorporation of the Deus Ex Machina and Watership Down (talking rabbits) aspects from the previously deleted scenes.
posted by shoepal at 7:14 AM on June 22, 2004

*golf claps for drezdn*
posted by u.n. owen at 11:27 AM on June 22, 2004

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