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Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut

Dark. Darker. Darko 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut

Donnie spends his days sleepwalking, numb to the world and unable to communicate with his family. He is woken from his medication induced sleep one night by Frank, a demonic looking 6ft bunny rabbit. On their first meeting Frank draws Donnie out of his bed just before it is crushed by a falling jet engine, beginning Donnie’s spiralling journey of self-discovery. Having saved his life, Donnie feels he owes Frank a debt and begins to do his bidding, consequently wreaking havoc on his local town and its residents.

But is Frank an apocalyptic warning, a spiritual guide or the product of a troubled imagination? Amid his predictions of the end of the world and instructions on time travel, Frank awakens in Donnie something new, as he sets about trying to save the ones he loves, and punish the others.

The world Donnie inhabits is a glorious memory of the 80s, with a superbly nostalgic soundtrack featuring classics from Duran Duran, Tears For Fears and of course Mad World. A cast including Katharine Ross, Mary McDonnell and Patrick Swayze harks back to the bygone era, but keeps one foot in the present with the inclusion of Drew Barrymore and Noah Wyle as Donnie’s influential teachers. Ultimately, however, this is Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie, his wry, cynical but vulnerable performance rightly drawing comparisons between Donnie and Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield.

This Director’s Cut is the best opportunity to experience Donnie’s world. Writer/Director Richard Kelly has added further depth, including more detail concerning the mysterious book The Philosophy of Time Travel to make this version equally involving yet closer to his original vision. The cut also boasts an improved sound mix, but most of the additions come in new or extended scenes that litter the film with clues and subtle details leading up to the breathtaking finale.

Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut is a film that unfolds into infinite layers, each one extraordinary and deeper than the rest. If you missed out first time, or want to delve further into Donnie’s mind, then seize this chance to see the definitive cut of one of the best films in recent memory.

Peter Lefort

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)