“Donnie Darko,” is the first film of writer/director Richard Kelly, starring Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze came out on October 26, 2001. However, three years later, “Donnie Darko” was re-released in a director’s cut version, with remastered sound, picture, 20 minutes of new footage and new visual effects. This marked the film’s impressive success on DVD sales – taking in more than $10 million to date in the U.S. sales alone. When I first saw this film, I couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of the whole story, but now seeing it for a whopping 7 times I can now call it one of my all-time favorite movies to watch.
The opening scene in the movie is where the audience first meets Donnie Darko (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), at sunrise. There is nondiegetic sound, which is peculiar, delicate and strange. The delicate music augments the early morning feel, as do the slow movements of the camera and the duration of the shot. The whole shot made me feel like I was waking up in Donnie’s world. The general mood of the movie is introduced by the mysteriousness of the music with similar pieces of music – on piano with feedback/synthesizer sounds and an open harmonic sound – are played at intervals throughout the film, and by the broad and haunting landscape which suggests a wide scope - that the movie is philosophical and looks at life from a extensive thematic standpoint.
The camera then begins to pan left capturing the scenery around Donnie, as you see, is asleep in the middle of what seems to be a dirt-mountain road in an extreme long shot. As he begins to wake up the camera begins to perform a dolly shot which goes around Donnie’s body to face him head on in a close-up shot. Donnie looks over the valley below him, which includes his hometown of Middlesex, VA and the camera pans to show the valley in Donnie’s point of view. As Donnie gets up and grins I knew instantly that he was used to waking up in odd places and that it was “normal” to him. Showing that Donnie is a strong but unusual character slightly hinting that there is something more going on, and what is explained and revealed later as him being diagnosed with schizophrenia. When I first saw this movie I knew that it was going to be strange or surreal because of this beginning of Donnie waking up in the middle of a road on a mountainside.
Next, are several shots of brief duration that follow are shown in montage format, Donnie mounts his bike and starts to ride it back home. In the original film ‘Killing Moon’ by Echo and the Bunnymen is played. This can later be understood to be a comical insinuation to Donnie’s friend, Frank, who is a bunny-man, or wears a bunny suit for most of the movie at least. This is the first of many comical moments in the film, not all as insinuating. But, in the director’s cut ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ is played nondiegetically in the opening scene.
The song is as lively as the bike ride and gives a menacing and...