What’s it all about, Darko?

donni1I first saw Donnie Darko back when it first came out on DVD. Must be something like fifteen years ago.  I enjoyed it, but for some reason I never returned to it, which is odd, as I always rewatch films eventually (why buy them, otherwise?), and fifteen years is a long time. Perhaps it didn’t engage me, somehow?  I guess maybe the format change to blu-ray and me boxing away most of my dvds to make room must have had something to do with it.

So anyway, Arrow releasing a new remastered edition of two cuts of the film on blu-ray finally has me returning to a film that, on paper, I really should love. Afterall, it has something of an underdog antihero for a protagonist and its about time travel and alternate universes and is set in the 1980s. Should be right up my street.

I opted for the theatrical cut for this return, mainly because general consensus seems to be it’s the best version. Also, having only seen it once over a decade ago, any changes in the directors cut from the theatrical wouldn’t be apparent to me anyway, and I’d like to be able to note the alterations if only to ascertain the reasons for that cuts existence.

I’ve decided to leave a detailed review until I do see that directors cut, which I intend to see very soon while the theatrical is fresh in my memory. A few observations though. How young everyone looks. How sad to see some who have since left us. How cool some of that eighties music is. How dodgy such early cgi now looks. How confusing some of the internal logic still seems to be (and why some of that central mystery/paradox seems unnecessarily hard to grasp). Have to admit, I still didn’t fall in love with the film. Its one to admire but emotionally I still didn’t connect somehow. Maybe Donnie himself is just too hard a character to love. Maybe its the unanswered questions at the end. Donnie sacrifices himself, and saves his girlfriend, but that resets other stuff, like leaving a child porn ring uncaught and the girlfriends mother possibly soon killed by her ex. A few letters/calls to the police before he went to sleep might have been wise. But maybe I’m still missing something.

Well, I’ll return to Donnie Darko shortly (hopefully). Arrow’s release looks gorgeous and the extras plentiful- its really a benchmark release even for Arrow (and bodes well for their edition of The Thing, woohoo!).

Let’s see if the third times the charm for Darko…

4 thoughts on “What’s it all about, Darko?

  1. I think I was just the right age to love a film like Donnie Darko when it came out, and I expect it didn’t hurt that it wasn’t really getting mainstream attention (apart from positive critics’ reviews). Things have changed somewhat since, I think — it has a much higher standing as a Great Movie today, to one degree or another.

    I never got round to the director’s cut, despite owning it on DVD and then Blu-ray. Now that I’ve got it again on Blu-ray, and Arrow have compiled such great-looking supplements, I’m hoping to find the time to do what I’ve intended for years and revisit the whole caboodle. But then I’ve been planning to do the same with both cuts of Apocalypse Now and all its extras since it came out, and that was over six years ago, so… (story of my life, again).

    1. Yeah, so many discs, so little time… its partly why I’m focusing on my ‘2017 Selection’ thing, trying to consciously minimise what I buy to ensure i actually watch them. It may well mean less than 100 new reviews this year, but at least I won’t be wasting so much money on unwatched discs.

      On the other hand, trying to keep up with a blog post every day (29 days now and counting) raises problems regards actually having time to watch stuff anyway. Just can’t win.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    I never connected with DD back then. I guess it was the fact that I was about 30 when it came out, and had spent the previous few years tearing through Philip K Dick and Kurt Vonnegut novels; and had also been there for the initial ‘surreal suburbia’ cycle of the late 80s/early 90s: so it all seemed a bit second-hand. The fact that a million teenagers swooned and fell in love with it also put me off a bit: it’s a bit like a friend of a friend who you never got on with , who ends up doing really well in life – OK, good luck to them but not really interested, thanks.

    Do post what you think of the DC, though. I also heard it was slightly inferior.

    I am a big fan of ‘The Box’, though. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a fascinating puzzle, and very scary. Did you see it?

    1. Ha, you know thats bloody weird- how you reacted to Darko is EXACTLY how I first reacted to The Matrix when that came out. I’d been reading all PKD’s stuff and The Matrix seemed so derivative, and yeah, critics and public were going wild. I had that “where were you in ’82” kind of thing going on too, with BR still a bit of a cult back then and not yet fully reappraised. Everyone seemed to be going crazy over some young pretender.

      Well. My feelings are milder about it now and I’m even a fan of the trilogy. But its funny, you describing how you felt about Darko brought it all rushing back.

      Don’t know ‘The Box’ I’ll have to check it out.

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