Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 3rd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2001
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daveigh Chase, Mary McDonnell, James Duval, Patrick Swayze, Jena Malone, Seth Rogen, Noah Wyle, Drew Barrymore, Patience Cleveland, Katharine Ross
BluRay released: January 9th, 2017 (UK), April 18th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running times: 134 minutes (Director’s Cut), 113 minutes (Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English (Both Versions)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Versions)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK), $49.95 (USA)
One of the staples of American cinema is teenage angst, most notably Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause being widely considered as one of the best examples of teenage angst in cinema. Besides cinema, another notable example of teenage angst includes, J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye.
The premise for Donnie Darko is a clever mix of teenage angst and elements rooted in science fiction. At the heart of the narrative is an exploration about how the decisions one makes play a large role in the spiritual journey they are on. The main character is well defined and Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an utterly convincing performance that resonates long after his characters’ fate has been set in stone.
From a production standpoint, there is not a single area where this film does not excel. And besides Jake Gyllenhaal exceptional performance, other standout performances include, Patience Cleveland in the role of Roberta Sparrow (Grandma Death), a former teacher whose book about time travel helps Donnie Darko find the answers he seeks and Patrick Swayze (Point Break) in the role of a motivational speaker named Jim Cunningham.
The atmospheric visuals and musical choices do a superb job reinforcing the various themes that are explored throughout this film. And when discussing this film one must not overlook the contributions of screenwriter / director Richard Kelly who delivers one of the most memorable directorial debuts in cinema history.
This release comes with two versions of the film, the theatrical cut and the director’s cut. These two versions are presented on two 50 GB dual layer BluRay’s and both films are presented on in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfers for the Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut have been sourced from brand new 4K restorations from the original camera negative and produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release, supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster. Both versions are given exceptional transfers that are by far and away vastly superior to all previous home video releases for this film.
Each version comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds excellent, dialog comes through with crystal clear clarity, everything sounds balanced and dynamic when it needs too.
Extras on disco one include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 28 seconds), twenty deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Richard Kelly (31 minutes 54 seconds), a short film directed by Richard Kelly titled The Good Place (8 minutes 43 seconds), Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, a brand-new documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures on the making of Donnie Darko, containing interviews with writer-director Richard Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick, director of photography Steven Poster, editor Sam Bauer, composer Michael Edwards, costume designer April Ferry, actor James Duval and critic Rob Galluzzo (85 minutes 32 seconds) and two audio commentaries the theatrical cut, the first audio commentary with Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal and the second audio commentary with Richard Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick and actors Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross and James Duval.
Extras on disc two include, an image gallery, five T.V. spots (2 minutes 10 seconds – total running time), a trailer for the director’s cut (55 seconds), music video for the song Mad World performed by Gary Jules (3 minutes 21 seconds), Storyboard comparisons (7 minutes 58 seconds), B-roll footage (4 minutes 37 seconds), Cunning Visions infomercials (5 minutes 43 seconds), #1 Fan: A Darkomentary (13 minutes 18 seconds), They Made Me Do It (4 minutes 48 seconds), They Made Me Do It II – The Cult of ‘Donnie Darko’ (30 minutes 17 seconds), archive interviews with Richard Kelly, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Noah Wyle, Katharine Ross, Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvonen, Hunt Lowry, Casey La Scala, and Steven Poster (14 minutes 20 seconds), The Donnie Darko Production Diary, an archival documentary charting the film’s production with optional commentary by Steven Poster (52 minutes 54 seconds) and an audio commentary for the director’s cut with Richard Kelly and filmmaker Kevin Smith.
Rounding out the extras is a two sided poster, seven art cards with images on both sides and a one hundred page hardcover booklet with cast & crew information, a foreword written by Jake Gyllenhaal, an essay titled Donnie Darko, Adultescence and the Lost Art of Remembering and Forgetting written by Nathen Rabin, an essay titled Discovery: Richard Kelly written by Mark Olsen, an interview conducted by Kevin Conroy Scott with Richard Kelly titled Asking Cosmic Questions, an essay titled The Cult of Patrick Swayze written by Jamie Graham, an essay titled After Darko: How Richard Kelly Adapted to the Apocalypse written by Anton Bitel and information about the restoration / transfer.
There is a wealth of extra content that leaves no stone unturned. With this film’s standout extras being an audio commentary with Richard Kelly and Kevin Smith and the documentary titled Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko.
Included with this release are two DVD’s that contain the same content included on the Blu-Ray counterparts included as part of this combo release.
Overall Donnie Darko gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.