Hollywood has a tendency to end their movies on a high, happy note. No matter how sad or bleak the movie had been, apparently a walk into the sunset cures all ills. But what about real life? Does every situation in reality end positively? The answer, of course, is no. Getting to see dark, depressing endings can be refreshing, especially if the movie itself has been dark and/or depressing throughout. I will caution the audience: you probably should not watch certain movies if you are in a down mood. One such movie is Donnie Darko.
Donnie Darko is centered on a sleepy, suburban Virginian town. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled young man who sleepwalks and converses on a regular basis with his imaginary friend, a 6 foot tall rabbit named Frank. Sounds like Jimmy Stewart’s character in the 1958 classic Harvey, right? Not at all. Frank is not a friendly rabbit by any stretch of the imagination. Frank fills Donnie’s head with thoughts of destruction, revenge, and time travel.
But is Frank really imaginary? As the film progresses, fantasy and reality are blurred rather seamlessly. Donnie Darko is what you get when you cross breed the works of John Hughes and David Lynch.
Upon its initial release, Donnie Darko had a difficult time finding an audience. Shortly before its release in the fall of 2001, the 9/11 attacks occurred. That tragedy, along with a sequence in the film involving a plane losing an engine, did not equate to success. But, thanks to word of mouth and home video, Darko eventually found its audience, achieving cult classic status that it still holds 16 years later.
Donnie Darko is brilliant. The ensemble cast is stellar: Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Katherine Ross, Mary McDonnell, Patrick Swayze, and Noah Wyle. There’s also an appearance from a young Seth Rogan. The cinematography is stunning. And the direction, from Richard Kelly, is award worthy. What is even more impressive is Darko was Kelly’s feature film directorial debut.
Donnie Darko Limited Edition has been released in a 4 disc collector’s edition from the master artisans at Arrow US. Arrow has truly outdone itself with this release. The Limited Edition set comes with a Blu-Ray and DVD version of both the Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut. The set is absolutely loaded with special features, including an all new making of documentary entitled Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko. There’s also a Richard Kelly short film, The Goodbye Place, as well as deleted and alternate scenes, archive interviews and featurettes, the Cunning Visions infomercials, trailers, and a music video of Mad World by Gary Jules.
Both the Theatrical and Director’s cut received 4K restorations from the original camera negatives. The restorations were supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster.
Let’s not forget the packaging. There’s a fold-out poster featuring the original poster art on one side and new artwork from Candice Tripp on the flip side. There are also 7 postcards featuring a secret I will not divulge here. Also, the Limited Edition comes with an 80+ page booklet featuring color stills and essays about the meaning and impact of the film.
Donnie Darko is not for everyone. Most people always want to see the sunny side of life. Always remember this: the sun always rises, but it also always sets. If you can handle a little darkness in your life, I highly recommend purchasing Donnie Darko Limited Edition.