Special Edition, Director's Cut
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During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. He returns home the next morning to find that a jet engine has crashed through his bedroom. As he tries to figure out why he survived and tries to deal with people in his town, like the school bully, his conservative health teacher, and a self-help guru, Frank continues to turn up in Donnie's mind, causing him to commit acts of vandalism and worse. The new Director?s Cut includes a production diary of the film (with optional commentary by Director of Photography Steven Poster), a story-board to screen featurette, the Director?s cut theatrical trailer, They Made Me Do It Too ? The Cult of Donnie Darko and the #1 Fan: A Darkomentary.
With an additional 20 minutes of material added to the original theatrical edition (including scenes not included in the augmented version previously released on DVD), Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut has a slower, more reflective pace than its first edit, and many more moments of emotional and tonal complexity. The film also has a fuller soundtrack (INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" is featured prominently in writer-director Richard Kelly's mysterious opening) and new, startling special effects that underscore Donnie's ambiguous experience of time travel and cross-dimensional encounters with Frank, the 6-foot provocateur in a terrifying bunny costume. (Of course, new f/x or not, Donnie could still be a paranoid schizophrenic immersed in violent delusions.) Purists might find some of these changes to Kelly's 2001 cult hit about a troubled teen (Jake Gyllenhaal) trapped in alternative, apocalyptic destinies troubling. But overall the film is an even more haunting experience, impossible to shake.
An audio commentary track features a conversation between Kelly and Kevin Smith (Clerks) outlining the former's reasons for making a director's cut. Kelly says his intention was to amplify a science fiction and comic book element in Donnie Darko, re-design the sound (actually, Kelly claims, there never was a sound design for the original release), and purchase rights to various songs (including Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart") that were lost between the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and the film's theatrical release. Kelly says he also wanted to give something new to the film's fans as thanks for their crucial, early support. Other features in this two-disc set include a highly entertaining production diary (including video of pre-production locations research) as well as a short film about the meaning of "Donnie Darko" as understood by some of the movie's British fans. --Tom Keogh
- Production diary with optional commentary by director of photography Steven Poster
- "They Made Me Do It Too: The Cult of Donnie Darko"
- Storyboard-to-screen featurette
- #I Fan: A Darkomentary
- Director's cut theatrical trailer
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I did not see an unboxing video before buying and I was blown away when I received the box. It really feels like a bargain at $31. The artwork done throughout by Candice Tripp is awesome.The included 90 page book is very well done and I found all of it interesting. I have not read the 2001 Donnie Darko book which the long interview was from and I really found it to be quite compelling.The post cards included with the Directors Cut and poster with the Theatrical Cut are both done well. The amount of special features and extras included is very impressive. I have watched some of them and I'm looking forward to watching the rest. There is material here that has not been released before.
The video quality of the special edition is impressive and a huge improvement over prior Blu-rays. Critics that have reviewed the Blu-rays are also very impressed. The difference for me is more obvious in outside scenes. Overall it offers better clarity and it is a bit darker. The Blu-ray appears very film like and shows details that I have never noticed before. Shadows and dark areas are handled very well and look great. This is not a Blu-ray to show off your home theater with. Look for more recent titles shot digitally. This is an older low budget movie shot with 800 ASA stock. The 800 ASA film was used so that film could be shot with less light. 800 ASA film has more grain and grain is apparent on these Blu-rays but it is not distracting. Bottom line is that this is the best this movie has ever looked and likely the best it will ever look. Arrow Video did a top notch job with their restoration.
Sound is very good and I cannot tell a difference from earlier Blu-rays.
This is a fantastic Limited Edition and well worth the money. For people that have bought the earlier editions and others that have not seen the film this is highly recommended.
With that said, Donnie Darko for years has lacked the proper bluray release it deserves. The previous american bluray transfer was sorely lacking, to say the least, and it seemed no care was put into the audio and picture quality whatsoever. It was only a slight improvement over the DVD, and so I never went ahead and purchased it, hoping that someday a better quality package would be released.
Thanks to Arrow Video, my prayers have been answered. This limited edition four disc set is ESSENTIAL to all Donnie Darko fans, and is exactly what we've been waiting for. Firstly, the box set is gorgeous, as are the supplements. There's an informative booklet, as well as two digipacks- one for the theatrical cut, another for the directors cut- within those are a double sided Donnie Darko poster (one side is the poster for the theatrical release, the flipside matches the box set's cover), and an envelope appearing to be handwritten by Donnie to Roberta Sparrow. Inside are a collection of various post-card sized artwork. The digipacks themselves also have gorgeous covers that perfectly represent the atmosphere of the film and are nice to have in the collection.
However, as great as the packaging is, it would all be for nothing had the actual film's look been once again neglected. With great relief it can be said that this is the best the film has ever looked on home video. Thanks to a new 4k restoration approved by director Kelly, the film looks noticeably better. While it still has that intentionally hazy quality to it, the detail is sharp and clear, the grain is finely retained, the colors are appropriately saturated. There really is not one flaw I noticed while watching (and this is going for the preferred theatrical cut, as I have not revisited the director's cut yet). I can't state enough how great the film looks now, it's like watching it with a fresh pair of eyes.
The special features also don't disappoint, filled with interviews, several commentaries including the cast, crew, and writer/director, as well as a lengthy documentary exploring the genesis of the film, the making of it, leading to its release, and finally it's enduring cult legacy over the years. Plus the same special features from previous dvd/blurays have been carried over.
In short, if you love Donnie Darko this is a MUST OWN package that was long overdue, but I'm so very pleased to finally have it in my collection. Thank you to everyone involved in the process of making this special edition, and to the filmmaker himself for a film I'll never stop loving.